Saturday

3rd Dec 2016

Romania court rules to reinstate President Basescu

  • Romania's president Traian Basescu is reinstated following a constitutional court decision on the contested 29 July referendum to impeach him. (Photo: Romania Libera)

Romania’s constitutional court on Tuesday (21 August) ruled against a 29 July referendum to oust President Traian Basescu.

The judges voted six to three to reinstate the suspended president and invalidate claims made by Basescu’s archrival prime minister Victor Ponta and his centre-left Social Liberal Union (USL) coalition that the referendum was based on an out-dated population census.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Ponta had earlier said that Basescu could return to his post if at least six judges declared the referendum invalid, reported Reuters.

Just over 46 percent of registered voters turned out for the referendum, failing to meet the required threshold of minimum 50 percent plus one. Of those who did turn out, 87.52 percent voted to impeach the president.

“We stated that the referendum quorum condition was not met,” the court’s president Judge Augustin Zegrean told reporters.

The 39 year-old Ponta claims the referendum would have passed the threshold had some 3 million people who had moved abroad or died been removed from the census.

Basescu will now be able to return as president but remains deeply unpopular for having supported wage cuts and tax increases as pre-conditions for a €20 billion rescue package agreed with the IMF, the EU and the World Bank in May 2009.

Romania’s interim president Crin Antonescu and close ally to Ponta told reporters that he would respect the court’s decision and step down.

The political rifts caused additional concern among the country’s IMF backers who said the infighting undermined investor confidence and Romania’s standing in financial markets. Romania is seeking an €5 billion rescue package from the IMF.

Romania’s parliament suspended Basescu in July after the USL had accused him of blocking government policy and over-stepping his mandate.

He has also been accused by the USL of ignoring corruption, an issue that some 93 percent of Romanians polled in a European Commission flash barometer in May view as a major problem plaguing the country.

“High-level corruption cases involving local dignitaries such as prefects, presidents of county councils or mayors continue to experience questionable delays and interruptions,” stated the European Commission in its country report on Romania in July.

Meanwhile, the constitutional court had originally intended to deliver a verdict on the ruling on 2 August.

Judges on the court claim they have faced death threats and intimidation, drawing sharp alarm from European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso who said any such allegations must be immediately and thoroughly investigated.

In a letter addressed to the EU justice and home affairs minister Viviane Reding on 3 August, the court’s president Augustin Zegrean, said government intimidation was undermining the court’s judicial independence.

“Following the debates concerning the validation of the referendum for the suspension of the President of Romania, Mr. Traian Băsescu, which took place on 29 July 2012, a judge confessed to the other judges that he was afraid to vote because of threats received by him and his family,” wrote Zegrean.

Hannes Swoboda, leader of the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament (S&D), applauded the court’s decision claiming it has “put an end to a debate that has hurt Romania”.

News in Brief

  1. Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start
  2. Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate
  3. Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal
  4. Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election
  5. Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows
  6. Cyprus talks to resume in January
  7. Documents from German NSA inquiry released
  8. Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Gaming & Betting AssociationContinues to Grow its Membership and Welcomes its Newest Member Association
  2. ACCASupports the Women of Europe Awards, Celebrating the Women who are Building Europe
  3. European Heart NetworkWhat About our Kids? Protect Children From Unhealthy Food and Drink Marketing
  4. ECR GroupRestoring Trust and Confidence in the European Parliament
  5. UNICEFChild Rights Agencies Call on EU to put Refugee and Migrant Children First
  6. MIRAIA New Vision on Clean Tech: Balancing Energy Efficiency, Climate Change and Costs
  7. World VisionChildren Cannot Wait! 7 Priority Actions to Protect all Refugee and Migrant Children
  8. ANCI LazioRegio-Mob Project Delivers Analysis of Trasport and Mobility in Rome
  9. SDG Watch EuropeCivil Society Disappointed by the Commission's Plans for Sustainable Development Goals
  10. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhD Positions Open – The Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU (PLATO)
  11. Access NowTell the EU Council: Protect our Rights to Privacy and Security
  12. ACCAThe Future of Audit Means Adaption to Today’s Global and Digital World