Monday

6th Apr 2020

Romania referendum decision put off to September

The political crisis in Romania is to drag on until 12 September at least after judges on Thursday (2 August) postponed their decision on the validity of last weekend's referendum.

President Traian Basescu on Sunday announced he had survived a "coup" when turnout in the poll came in at 46.2 percent - just under the 50 percent threshold.

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  • Constitutional judges said they needed more time to study all relevant data (Photo: wikiepdia)

Eighty seven percent of those who did vote said they want him to go, however.

The referendum was orchestrated by Basescu's political nemesis, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, who alleges the President abused his official powers by installing personal allies in public institutions, such as the Constitutional Court itself.

Ponta-linked polticians filed multiple complaints to judges saying the Romanian population has shrunk since the last official census.

If their claims are backed up by the interior ministry and the National Statistics Institute, the turnout could rise to over 50 percent, pushing out Basescu.

The judges on Thursday said they need more time to examine official papers, according to Romanian news agencies Mediafax and Agerpress.

In the interim, Basescu remains suspended, while a Ponta loyalist, Crin Antonescu, carries out presidential duties.

The affair is being closely watched by Brussels, amid fears that Romania is sliding backwards in terms of democracy and rule of law.

Ponta, following Sunday's results, said he would respect the court's decision, which requires a two-thirds majority of judges on the panel.

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.

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Member parties from the largest European political family have called for the expulsion of their Hungarian partner - again. This time, two prime ministers joined, but so far the heavyweights have again stayed away.

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Belgium's King Philippe has given interim prime minister Sophie Wilmès the task of forming a government, after seven opposition parties agreed to support it. The agreement came after a political drama - and there are doubts if it will hold.

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