Bloomberg News

Romania Constitutional Court Upholds Suspension of President

July 10, 2012

Romania’s Constitutional Court upheld last week’s suspension of President Traian Basescu, bringing him closer to being ousted as he battles the prime minister for political power in the Balkan country.

The nine-judge court in Bucharest also confirmed Senate head Crin Antonescu as interim president and approved a change in the Parliament’s leadership, rejecting a challenge filed by the legislature’s former heads, Vasile Blaga and Roberta Anastase, it said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. It may also rule today on a change in the referendum law that would help ease moves to remove the president.

“The court found that the procedure to suspend Traian Basescu from the position of President was respected,” the court said, explaining the decision today on its website. “The decision is final and mandatory.”

Premier Victor Ponta, riding public anger over austerity measures, is looking to remove Basescu two months after becoming the third premier this year in the Balkan nation as it prepares for parliamentary elections in November or December. The impeachment attempt is fueling political turmoil, which pushed the leu to a record low.

The court also said a law preventing it from ruling on parliamentary decisions, such as a president’s suspension, is unconstitutional. The court’s powers are still limited by an emergency ordinance issued by the government on July 4, which is in force, stating that it can’t rule on parliamentary decisions.

Referendum Law

The court may announce its ruling today on a law governing referendums that makes it easier to remove the president by lowering the threshold for a valid vote, following a challenge by the opposition. The government passed an emergency decree last week with the same changes to the referendum law, which is already in force.

According to the government’s degree, the president can be ousted with the majority of citizens taking part in the referendum instead of a majority of eligible voters.

The currency gained 0.26 percent and traded at 4.5205 to the euro, at 12:25 p.m. in Bucharest today.

Lawmakers suspended Basescu last week because of accusations he overstepped his duties when announcing state wage cuts in 2010 and other economic decisions. Basescu survived an impeachment referendum in 2007 with the backing of 74 percent of the country’s 8.1 million voters.

Plunging Popularity

Basescu’s popularity plunged after backing the austerity measures and his political future will be decided in the referendum scheduled for July 29.

About 64 percent of Romanian voters will impeach Basescu in the referendum on whether he should be reinstated or ousted from office, according to a poll by Bucharest-based polling company IMAS for radio station Europa FM released July 8. About 27 percent of voters support Basescu’s reinstatement while 8.3 percent are undecided or didn’t want to take part in the survey.

The July 5-7 survey of an unspecified number of voters had a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andra Timu in Bucharest at atimu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net


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