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Lawmakers Move To Impeach Romanian President

Romanian President Traian Basescu on July 3, 2012Romanian President Traian Basescu on July 3, 2012
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Romanian President Traian Basescu on July 3, 2012
Romanian President Traian Basescu on July 3, 2012
By Eugen Tomiuc
Romania's ruling majority has begun procedures to suspend President Traian Basescu after parliamentary speakers were sacked and the powers of top judges were curbed.
 
Lawmakers from the left-leaning Liberal Social Union (USL) have called an extraordinary session to debate impeaching the center-right president.

A vote is expected on July 6, and Basescu is due to attend the session.
 
If approved by parliament, Basescu's impeachment must be voted on in a referendum within 30 days.
 
Leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta's cabinet has already issued a decree barring the Constitutional Court from ruling on parliamentary decisions, thus opening the door for the governing majority to impeach Basescu.

Ponta himself is under growing pressure to resign because of accusations of plagiarism.

The Constitutional Court was called to issue a "consultative" ruling on the motives invoked in the impeachment decision. The ruling on July 6 avoided making a clear recommendation for or against the impeachment. 

But the Court issued a separate statement saying that one of its judges had been "threatened." No details were offered.

West Wants 'Stable' Romania
 

The court has filed an official complaint with the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe's advisory body on constitutional matters.

Both the European Union and United States have voiced deep concern about attacks on democracy in Romania.

EU President Herman van Rompuy said in a Twitter message on July 6 that he was "very concerned" about developments in Romania. 

And European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso has invited Ponta to Bruxelles next week to discuss the situation.

U.S. Ambassador to Romania Mark Gittenstein, in an Independence Day speech in Bucharest with Ponta standing by his side, warned about the importance of strong democratic institutions.
 
"The strength of these institutions," Gittenstein said, "will decide whether you prosper and whether your children will decide to even live here."
 
Gittenstein had earlier said Washington wants a stable Romania, where parts of its missile shield are to be installed.

Ponta's ex-communist Social Democrats (PSD) succeeded in suspending Basescu in May 2007, but he was overwhelmingly restored to office by a subsequent public referendum.
 
Basescu's approval rates, however, have plummeted since, in part because of drastic austerity measures his center-right allies imposed in 2010 in agreement with the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.
 
'Blitzkrieg' On Democratic Institutions 

The last center-right government fell in May following a no-confidence vote, bringing Ponta's ex-communists and his liberal ally, the National Liberal Party (PNL), to power.
 
The opposition center-right speakers of both houses of parliament were sacked on July 3, prompting references in the Romanian media to a "blitzkrieg" against the country's fragile democratic institutions.
 
On the same day, Basescu likened the leftist government's actions to its crackdown on the opposition in 1990, when then-president Ion Iliescu, Ponta's mentor, summoned thousands of miners to Bucharest to attack pro-democracy protesters.
 
Basescu warned that the final goal of the government's drive to impeach him was to take control of the judiciary after former premier Adrian Nastase last month became the first high-profile politician to be sent to jail for corruption.
 
Romanian journalist and talk show host Robert Turcescu told RFE/RL that the independence of the judiciary poses the highest threat to Romania's corrupt politicians.
 
"The biggest gain of the past several years," Turcescu said, "is that the most important thing in a democracy -- the judiciary -- has become independent, and was allowed to self-regulate its working framework."

'Strong Reaction From Civil Society'
 
Romanian rights groups have sent an open letter to the European Commission saying that the rule of law was under "unprecedented attack" from the USL.
 
Journalist Robert Turcescu, however, says Romanians themselves must take action rather than complain abroad.

"As a citizen and journalist of this country, what I want is not to have to wait for the salvation to come either from the Americans or the European institutions when democracy is veering off the road in my country. What I want is a strong and firm reaction from the civil society," said Turcescu. 
 
Meanwhile, hundreds of people on July 5 and 6 staged demonstrations in Bucharest and other cities in support of Basescu and against what they regard as the current threat to democracy. 
 
With additional reporting by AFP and Reuters
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Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 06, 2012 04:48
An interesting turn of events! And it's also interesting to see how certain pro-US leaders (such as Basescu in Romania or Tadic in Serbia) are suffering one humiliating defeat after another - while the RFE/RL continues feeding us with stories on how anti-US Putin, Ahmadinejad or Assad (all of whom seem to be sittting in their chairs pretty firmly ) are "about to be ousted"

by: Qentity from: Romania
July 06, 2012 09:42
Yeah, this article it's the worst point of view about the real situation. If you have lived in Romania in the past 5 years, you would be able to see - the monster that become pesident Basescu. Personaly, and the majority of the romanian people wants the "head" of that "Putin-like" president. Stop spreading ideas about "law&constitution"....it's not about that!!!
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
July 06, 2012 17:23
Hi, Quentity, could you tell us a little bit more about why the people in Romania "want the head of Basescu"? Is it related to the cuts in salaries and social spending or there are other reasons here as well?
In Response

by: Marius Tudor from: US & Romania
July 06, 2012 19:02
In case no one bothered to tell you, the entire EU has sufferred a great deal during the worst economic recession of the last two generations. Romania has actually fared better than 'older' democracies, even though austerity measures implemented in 2010 have been understandably unpopular, however necessary. Remember they were negotiatiated with the EU & IMF with all political factions signing off (PSD & PNL included)?
As far as your unfounded argument of 'majority of the Romanian people..' - didn't realize you are endorsed to speak for the Romanian People - we will all have the right to vote pro/against Basescu during the July 29 national referendum. Regardless of outcome, USL organization, in the basis of the unprecedented & unjustified 'emergency measures' it's taken the last 96 hours, is clearly anti-democratic & pro neo-communist dictatureship benefitting only a handful of known soon-to-be convicted fellons. This is what Ponta, Antonescu, Voiculescu are fighting for: continued control and avoiding Adrian Nastase's fate. It's futile. Democracy & Freedom will prevail in a 3rd millennium Romania, now full member of EU and NATO.
In Response

by: Val Daianu from: Romania
August 01, 2012 20:01
Mate (marius tudor), I will assume(actually I am positive) that you are payed to BE AN ASS-KISSER on this kind of websites, because of the arguments that you are coming with, this is the reason why outside this actions have been tagged as unconstitutional and undemocratic. Stop lying mate, PDL went and cried that they are killed and attacked and this was a "coup d'etat". Check Wikipedia mate, at least... there was nothing unconstitutional, and there is nothing illegal when 7.4 million people have decided that you must go, when you were elected with 5 million votes, proved to be a fraud. So stop inducing in error, I can't believe that you can lie for money and create a bad image for your country. You couldn't lie the Romanians any more so you turned up begging and lying the world, SHAME ON YOU

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