Sunday

30th Apr 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.

EPP group frustrated with Orban

Orban's ruling Fidesz party is getting too much to handle for the EPP group, as they are once again forced to defend the Hungarian premier's controversial actions.

France still anxious over possibility of Le Pen win

Despite opinion polls that place centrist Macron well ahead of the far-right leader Le Pen in the 7 May presidential run-off, doubts are emerging about his capacity to unite the French people around his candidacy.

News in Brief

  1. Vote of no confidence prepared against Spanish PM
  2. Syria to buy Russian anti-missile system
  3. Germany seeks partial burka ban
  4. Libya has no plan to stop migration flows
  5. EU has no evidence of NGO-smuggler collusion in Libya
  6. Poland gets 'final warning' on logging in ancient forest
  7. Commission gives Italy final warning on air pollution
  8. Romania and Slovenia taken to court over environment policies

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCharlotte Hornets' Nicolas Batum Tells Kids to "Eat Well, Drink Well, Move!"
  2. ECR GroupSyed Kamall: We Need a New, More Honest Relationship With Turkey
  3. Counter BalanceParliament Sends Strong Signal to the EIB: Time to Act on Climate Change
  4. ACCARisks and Opportunities of Blockchain and Shared Ledgers Technologies in Financial Services
  5. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  7. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  8. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  9. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  10. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  11. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  12. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process

Latest News

  1. EU boasts unity on Brexit talks
  2. May’s election juggernaut
  3. EPP scolds Orban over university and NGO laws
  4. Oxford-Studie besorgt über 'Schrott' News in Frankreich
  5. Alte Freundschaft zwischen Le Pen und Putin
  6. EP chief faces questions after homophobic 'summit'
  7. EU signals Northern Ireland could join if united with Ireland
  8. One year later: EU right to open internet still virtual