Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Deutsche Presse-Agentur: Romania facilitates presidential impeachment procedure

Feb 20, 2007

Bucharest - The Romanian Parliament Tuesday facilitated a possible impeachment of President Traian Basescu through a change in the constitution.

The president can now be removed from office in a referendum if the decision is backed by a majority of votes cast by the electorate. The move comes before the background of ongoing power struggles between Basescu and Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu. The opposition wants to initiate a referendum to remove Basescu.

So far, the law regulating referenda demands the voices of a majority of all eligible voters, making participation a crucial factor in the referendum. The opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) initiated the change demanding 'symmetry' to presidential elections, where the president is elected directly by the people with a majority of votes cast.

The new rule was decided by the votes of the socialist and nationalist opposition, and also those of Taricaenu's National Liberal Party (PNL) and their coalition partner, the Hungarian Party (UDMR). Only the liberal-right Democratic Party (PD), which is close to Basescu, voted against the move.

The PSD wants to initiate an impeachment referendum against Basescu, whom it accuses of interfering with the judiciary and unconstitutional relations to businesses. A referendum needs a simple majority of parliament, which is due to vote on the issue next week.

According to opinion polls, Basescu is the country's most popular politician. A referendum should confirm him in office. Prime Minister Tariceanu has accused Basescu of being overly power hungry, while Basescu has accused Tariceanu of being close to the business mafia and of blocking reforms.

The two politicians are also divided over foreign policy. Tariceanu wants a withdrawal of Romanian troops from Iraq, Basescu is against it.

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