Romania's Constitutional Court on Tuesday annulled the outcome of last month's referendum that approved the impeachment of President Traian Basescu. The court ruled that the referendum had failed to produce the minimum required 50-percent voter turnout to make the result binding.
The chief judge of the court, Augustin Zegrean, told reporters that the ruling against the referendum was passed by the panel of judges "with a legal majority of 6-3". He said the judges had agreed that the "referendum quorum condition was not met," and added that Basescu can now return to the presidency.
Incidentally, Basescu was suspended from the presidency and Crin Antonescu named interim president ahead of the impeachment referendum, which was triggered by a power struggle between Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta.
Ponta and the ruling coalition, the Social Liberal Union, accuses Basescu of encroaching on the prime minister's role and violating citizens' rights. The Social Liberal Union came into power three months ago and comprises the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party and the Conservative Party.
The referendum was called after the Romanian parliament approved a request by the Social Liberal Union to impeach Basescu on July 6. Subsequently, more than 87% of those who took part in the July 29 referendum voted in favor of impeaching Basescu.
Nevertheless, only about 46% of the18.3 million electorate took part in the vote after Basescu and his main supporter, the Democrat Liberal Party, called for boycotting of the referendum. The low voter turnout has now resulted in the reinstatement of Basescu as the country's president.
Basescu has been Romania's president since 2004 and is now expected to serve out the rest of his second five-year term which began in 2009. The right-wing president's current term in office expires in 2014.
Notably, Basescu's popularity has dropped drastically in Romania ever since he implemented unpopular austerity measures, including wage cuts and tax increases, in line with deals reached with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2009 and 2011.
by RTT Staff Writer
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