Sunday

27th May 2018

Romanian President: 'I survived a coup'

  • Basescu: hostile banners are still seen in the centre of Bucharest after more than 80 percent of voters said he should go (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Political instability looks set to continue in Romania despite claims of a referendum victory by President Traian Basescu.

The country's Central Electoral Commission announced after polls closed at 11pm local time on Sunday (29 July) that the turnout was 45.92 percent - just short of the 50 percent threshold required by the Constitutional Court.

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.

Basescu in a TV address the same day used fighting talk to describe the result.

"The flame of democracy has remained alight. Romanians have rejected the coup d'etat," he said.

For his part, the centre-right President's nemesis, centre-left Prime Minister Victor Ponta, noted: "The Romanian government will respect all decisions of the Constitutional Court and will act as a factor of stability in the next period, regardless of whether the referendum is validated or not."

His remarks point to the fact the court must still endorse the outcome in a decision expeced later this week.

One of Ponta's accusations leading up to the vote is that Basescu abused his powers by installing political friends on the constitutional tribunal.

Ponta last week also signed an agreement with a trade union of ex-military personnel saying the court should be dismantled.

Meanwhile, the electoral commission's turnout figure has an official margin of error of 3 percent and does not include votes by expats.

The Ponta side warned in the run-up to the referendum that Basescu supporters would use fraud. On Sunday night, two pro-Ponta MPs, Dan Constantin and Relu Fenechiu, said, on the basis of a parallel count, that the real turnout was 52 percent.

The vast majority of people who did vote - over 85 percent according to exit polls by Romanian TV stations - wanted Basescu to go.

The President has become unpopular since his re-election in 2009 due to austerity cuts and allegations of cronyism, such as helping his glamourous daughter to become an MEP.

If the referendum result sticks, Basescu, who was suspended from office earlier this month pending the vote, will take back powers from interim president and Ponta ally Crin Antonescu, setting the stage for more political infighting ahead of parliamentary elections in November.

The EU has taken a strong interest in the process in the name of protecting democracy.

Last week it urged Ponta to uphold the Consititutional Court's decision to set the threshold at 50 percent after the Prime Minister's people tried to scrap the cut-off point.

Romanians prepare for divisive referendum

The Romanian government's campaign ahead of a referendum on Sunday on removing the president from office resembles a personal vendetta, amid EU worries about democracy eroding rapidly in the country.

EU commission still 'very worried' about Romanian democracy

EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding on Wednesday said she remains "very much worried" about the state of democracy in Romania. Meanwhile, there is intense political infighting in Romania ahead of Sunday's impeachment referendum.

Analysis

Something is rotten in the state of Romania

The view of ruling politicians that public institutions - be they cultural institutes, media, or, more worryingly, the judiciary - need to obey the ruling party has never been completely eradicated since Communism fell.

Opinion

The dangers of resurgent nationalism in Greece

Virulent nationalism in Greece has been stirred up in the context of austerity and renewed negotiations with Macedonia. Recent attempts by the government to address the inequalities suffered by LGBT persons have also been met with a reactionary backlash.

Opinion

Linking EU funds to 'rule of law' is innovative - but vague

Defining what constitutes 'rule of law' violations may be more difficult than the EU Commission proposes, as it tries to link cohesion funds in east Europe to judicial independence. A key question will be who is to 'judge' those judges?

News in Brief

  1. Italy set to pick eurosceptic finance minister
  2. UK foreign minister fooled by Russian pranksters
  3. Rajoy ally gets 33 years in jail for corruption
  4. Close race as polls open in Irish abortion referendum
  5. Gazprom accepts EU conditions on gas supplies
  6. Facebook tells MEPs: non-users are not profiled
  7. Commission proposes ending France deficit procedure
  8. UK households hit with Brexit income loss

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman requests more lending transparency from European Investment Bank
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  3. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and reconciliation is a process that takes decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  4. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  5. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  6. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  8. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual Report celebrates organization’s tenth anniversary
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Cooperation Needed on Green Exports and Funding
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li Confirms China Will Continue to Open Up
  12. European Jewish CongressCalls on Brussels University to Revoke Decision to Honour Ken Loach