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Romanian Vote: Trouble Still To Come

  • July 31st, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

romania-president.jpgThe Romanian President, Traian Basescu (picture), has survived a campaign to remove him from office by referendum, 29.7.12, but not by winning the vote.

The parliament moved to suspend him following elections in May, won by his opponents.

The socialists and right-of-centre liberals, brought up charges going back to accusations of corrupt practices first tested in 2005.

Mr Besescu is a quick politician able to re-make himself; moving from a fairly senior position in the communist party under the dictator Nicolae Ceasescu, to the then-National Salvation Front (former communists and several others), to an off-shoot of it to the right-of-centre; before forging an independent career based on  a measure of charisma and public following.

He currently champions strongly committed membership of the European Union and systematic prosecution of corruption cases, in independent courts.

Once reprieved by the courts himself, then after a suspension from office in 2009, reprieved by plebiscite; this time his adversaries not only brought on a suspension, but limited the powers of the constitutional court – cutting off the chance of an appeal.

Democratic powers outside, most prominently the EU, objected to this as a violation of the rule of law, eventually agreeing to see the suspension stay, while a referendum was held on keeping the president, on the weekend, 29.7.12.

Mr Besescu has now survived that; while a large majority voted against his reinstatement, the voter turn-out was well short of the 50% required to validate the vote.

With that close call the tension has not been removed and more trouble is to come.

In a system notorious for manipulation of institutions of society, it could not be left at that. The Prime Minister, Victor Ponta, 39, from the Social Democrats, faced with evidence he had plagiarised his doctoral thesis, presided over some peremptory changes in the make-up of a university board, which has since validated his degree.