Sunday, February 18, 2007

President says politicians failing country, wants referendum on new election law

February 15 2007 | The Associated Press

Romania's President Traian Basescu launched a scathing attack Thursday on the country's politicians, saying they were colluding with questionable interest groups and drafting legislation for criminals.

Basescu, who has been odds with most parties in parliament and with Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu, called for a referendum on changing the country's election law in mid-March. He wants to have lawmakers elected individually, rather than on party lists.

"The reality is that Romania as a whole is ahead of its politicians. Romania has taken off, it's flying, while its politicians are stuck on the ground, although they had tickets for the flight," he said.

In accusing politicians of drafting legislation in favor of criminals, Basescu cited an amnesty proposal for petty criminals and a bill to cancel tax debts of some local brewers.

Opinion polls show a large majority of Romanians distrust lawmakers and back the president's initiative.

On Thursday, most parties said they backed changing the election law. The opposition Social Democratic Party said, however, it wanted the law to be adopted by parliament rather than in a referendum.

The left wing party, which was swept from power in 2004 mainly due to corruption scandals, has proposed instead a referendum on impeaching Basescu, whom they accuse of sparking political conflicts and instability in Romania, which joined the EU in January.

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