Romania – President resumes office

In Romania, the referendum to remove President Traian Băsescu from office has failed.

The Constitutional Court has still to validate the results, but the unofficial figures show that 46.23 per cent of registered voters voted and that 87.52 per cent of those voting approved the motion to remove President Băsescu. However, a valid poll of 50% of registered voters was required. Therefore, President Băsescu, who has been suspended since the vote in the parliament, now returns to office. President Băsescu’s supporters had called for abstention, knowing that this was the most likely way to defeat the motion.

The reaction of PM Victor Ponta was not very conciliatory. He is reported as saying that President Băsescu “has been politically impeached. The legend of Traian Băsescu, the politician loved by the people, is dead. Basescu has to go. He no longer represents anyone”. For his part, President Băsescu is reported as saying that “those that organized the failed coup d’etat have to answer before state institutions”. So, there is strong language on both sides.

This is, of course, the second time that President Băsescu has been suspended, the second time there has been a referendum to remove him, and the second time that such a referendum has been defeated. The first occasion was in 2007 during his first term of office. Then only 44.45% of voters voted and of those voting only 75.1% voted to remove President Băsescu. So, if the referendums are comparable, then he has lost some support, but not enough to remove him from office.

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