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Romania’s Constitutional Court decided on Thursday to postpone its ruling on an impeachment vote against President Traian Basescu, until September 12.
The Constitutional judges said they needed more time to study all the relevant data before deciding whether to validate the results of the referendum on the president’s impeachment.
“This is not a good news for Romania as it will prolong the current political crisis, with key political players fighting for power, ” says journalist Cristian Teodorescu.
Although the majority of the voters in the referendum held on July 29 were in favour of impeaching the president, the turnout at around 46 per cent was below the 50 per cent threshold needed for the result to be validated by the Constitutional Court.
Out of the approximately 8.3 million people who voted, around 87 per cent were in favour of impeaching the president.
While President Traian Basescu has argued that the low turnout was in fact a vote in his favour, the leftist ruling coalition challenged the results, arguing that the lists of eligible voters had not been updated.
According to the last official data, based on a census from 2001, around 18 million people are entitled to vote. The data from the 2011 census has yet to be published.
Traian Basescu was Romania’s most popular politician for a decade, but lost support over widely disliked health reforms and austerity measures that were introduced by his government.
His impeachment has divided the country, with supporters and opponents spending hours engaged in bitter verbal battles in public spaces, on the internet and on television.
Prime Minister Ponta has accused Basescu of blocking government reforms, of abusing his position to grant favours to his allies and of interfering in the judicial system.
Basescu says his adversaries are taking revenge for the corruption conviction this year of the former prime minister, Adrian Nastase, a senior member of Ponta's governing coalition. He accused the government of attempting a “coup d’etat” not just against him but also against the judiciary.
Basescu was previously suspended in 2007 for one month, but returned to power following a popular referendum.
European Union officials have expressed considerable disquiet over recent events in Romania, questioning the Ponta government's commitment to the rule of law and democracy.
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