Saturday, May 26, 2007

Romania premier aims at stability through talks with parties

BUCHAREST • AFP

Romania's president yesterday invited leaders of the ruling minority coalition and other parties to talks next week after winning a referendum some of them called to impeach him.

President Traian Basescu said the talks on Monday would aim to forge a government stable enough to run the country until 2008 parliamentary elections. Basescu, who returned to power on Wednesday after the referendum, has said he wants the fragmented parliament to back his anti-sleaze drive and an electoral system to make politicians accountable to voters.

"The president invited parties for consultations next Monday ... to find a responsible and transparent political majority on which a stable government could be formed to ensure good governing until the end of the current electoral cycle," the presidency said in a statement. Prime Minister Calin Tariceanu, Basescu's political foe, has said his Liberals would not cling to power, a signal that his fragile minority cabinet could step down if it loses parliament support from his allies, the opposition Social Democrats (PSD).

The powerful leftist PSD threatened to withdraw support for Tariceanu's cabinet on Tuesday following their parties' defeat in the referendum they launched to oust Basescu. Tariceanu's government controls only 20 per cent of seats in the chamber and relies on the PSD's backing to stay in power.

The referendum defeat sparked speculation that the PSD may forge an alliance with Basescu's opposition Democrat party, possibly opening the way for early polls, or that it may demand cabinet posts in return for backing Tariceanu in parliament.

The European Commission has urged politicians in the European Union newcomer, which joined the bloc in January, to stop infighting and press on with much-delayed reforms. Analysts say the feuding could continue, possibly until parliamentary elections in late 2008, which could further hinder the fight against corruption and block other crucial reforms.

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