Some of you may have been following events in Romania on my Facebook page, but things are certainly moving quickly.
Yesterday, the new majority moved to unseat both the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and the President of the Senate and to replace them with representatives from the majority parties. There is a report at Balkan Insight here.
Today, thanks to information from Cristina Bucur, the government issue a decree that suspended the Constitutional Court’s power to rule on decisions made by parliament.
Immediately afterwards, the USL majority has begun proceedings to remove President Băsescu from office. As noted in a previous post, Art. 95 of the constitution states:
- In case of having committed grave acts breaching on provisions of the Constitution, the President of Romania may be suspended from office by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, in joint session, by a majority vote of Deputies and Senators, and after consultation with the Constitutional Court. The President may explain before Parliament with regard to imputations brought against him.
- The proposal of suspension from office may be initiated by at least one third of the number of Deputies and Senators, and the President shall be immediately notified thereof.
- If the proposal of suspension from office has been approved, a referendum shall be held within thirty days, in order to remove the President from office.
The summary of the letter outlining President Băsescu’s alleged grave acts is available in Romanian here. There is a long list of grievances. The letter was proposed by the new Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and the President of the Senate. So, their appointment yesterday can probably be understood as part of the overall sequencing of events.
President Băsescu will almost certainly be removed. There will then be a referendum on whether the president should be removed. As reported previously in this blog, the referendum law has only recently been amended to make it easier to remove the president in the vote.
Two further steps in the sequence are likely to follow. The majority may try to remove members of the Constitutional Court and replace them with more sympathetic appointees. The government may also then reintroduce the first-past-the-post bill to maximise the chances that it will win an overall majority in this year’s legislative elections. The Constitutional Court struck down the original bill just last week.
The majority is defending all of its actions by claiming that in Romania the top posts are always replaced when there is a change of government. This argument may have some merit, but the speed with which it is happening is remarkable. More remarkable is the fact that it is happening during a period of cohabitation, that the president is one of the posts that the government wants to change, and that the majority came to power without an election.