President’s fate on line as Romania goes to polls
Romanians voted yesterday on whether to impeach their unpopular president, Traian Basescu, after a government campaign to remove him that has drawn international criticism of its methods and raised doubts about the country’s IMF aid deal.
Prime minister Victor Ponta’s left-wing Social Liberal Union (USL) has suspended Mr Basescu and its drive to unseat him has brought a stern dressing-down from Brussels, which accused him of undermining the rule of law and intimidating judges.
Mr Ponta’s government took office in May and is holding the referendum to seek popular backing for the impeachment of Mr Basescu for overstepping his powers. He is unpopular for backing austerity and for perceptions of cronyism.
Opinion polls show that some 65 per cent of Romanians want to remove the former sea captain from office, but the opposition has called for a boycott of the vote and the USL was struggling to get the turnout of over 50 per cent needed for a valid vote.
The government had tried to make it easier to impeach Mr Basescu by removing the minimum turnout rule but was forced to back down by harsh EU criticism.
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