By late Friday, the parliamentary majority in Romania stopped powers of President Traian Basescu and paves the way for a referendum on full removal from office (impeachment), announced Monday.
The formal reason for removing Basescu is an attempt to influence the judiciary, and racist remarks about the Roma and the disabled. Behind the facade, however, lies bitter struggle between the socialist government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta and center-right president, in which the Prime Minister did not bother to violate the rules.
“What happens, especially in the last week, is a series of clearly unconstitutional steps taken by Government to direct instruction,” says political analyst Sorin Ionita to the Financial Times.
The way Ponta methodically eliminated his opponents, raises concern. 39-year-old politician, leader of the Left Social-Liberal Alliance (ULS), became prime minister on May 7 and quickly began to replace loyal to Basescu senior members of the apparatus of government.
The parliamentary majority eliminates the Presidents of the upper and lower chamber of the Romanian Parliament and replacing them with supporters of Prime Minister. The Prime Minister also signed a decree limiting the rights of the constitutional court to rule on the laws adopted by parliament. In addition, the government voted to amend the law for a referendum on impeachment of the president, to the effect that to be effective motion must be supported by more than half of voters, rather than, as now, more than 50% of the total electorate.
Though mostly ceremonial, post Basescu has significant powers. He is elected directly by the Romanians and take care of foreign policy, strong defense and intelligence apparatus, says “AP”.
President of the Upper House of the Romanian Parliament Crin Antonescu, near Ponta, who will now serve as interim president, announced that the referendum on the fate of Basescu will be held on July 29. Polls suggest he probably will not be able to win over 50% of the votes of the Romanians and will be effectively removed. If this happens, the upcoming early parliamentary elections in Romania in the autumn may include in themselves and vote for president.
Step away from democracy
Victor Ponta actions triggered concerns of the international community. European Commission on Friday called on the government of Romania to respect the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law, calling it a “cornerstone of European democracy.” U.S. Ambassador in Bucharest Mark Gitenstayn also expressed concerns about threats to “independent democratic institutions” in Romania.
Also addressed criticism of Germany and the Council of Europe. “I am very worried about the recent events in Romania, especially for the government and parliament to democratic institutions,” said Secretary General of the Council Torbyor Jagland. On Sunday, Foreign Minister of Germany, Guido Westerwelle told the “Frankfurter Allgemeine zontagtsaytung” that the government will not ignore such things in Europe, and questioned the future integration of Romania into the European Union. “Serious violations of the letter and spirit of the European Community will ask questions whether Romania is adapted to perform the last steps towards full integration into the European Union,” warned Westerwelle.