Tuesday

21st Feb 2017

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.

MEPs set to approve Canada trade deal

The European Parliament is expected to give the green light to the EU-Canada free trade agreement, which would start being implemented in April.

News in Brief

  1. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  2. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive
  3. Poland rejects EU criticism of court changes
  4. German nationalist leader met with Putin allies in Moscow
  5. German housing market overheated, says Bundesbank
  6. France invites three EU leaders for Versailles summit in March
  7. Greece agrees on new bailout reforms
  8. EU commission denies Juncker resignation rumour

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  2. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  3. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  5. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  6. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  7. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  8. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  9. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  10. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  11. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  12. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data

Latest News

  1. Should Europeans spend more on defence?
  2. Dieselgate: EU disappointed with VW's treatment of customers
  3. French police raid Le Pen's party office
  4. The Armenia-Azerbaijan war: A refugee's story
  5. Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock
  6. Internal EU report exposes Libya turmoil
  7. EU commissioner condemns 'delay' in post-Dieselgate reform
  8. Sweden fights back as foreign leaders make up bad news