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The Impeachment-attempt of President Traian Băsescu: Ambition of the New Government or a Necessity?

Popular discontent led to the attempted impeachment of President Traian Băsescu by referendum on 29 July 2012. Are there any objective reasons to declare that the Romanian President has failed in his duties? The results show a certain unpopularity for the saved President…

President Traian Băsescu Saved from Impeachment by the Romanians

10/08/2012 - 16:03
"I am not defending a president’s chair, I am defending a European Romania » insisted the Romanian president Traian Băsescu . The procedure of suspending the Romanian president, the one and only goal of the USL government since its ascension to power, is an incarnation of its lack of respect for the Constitution.

In principle, the impeachment of the president was done almost naturally. However, upon examining the facts, one realizes that the USL have gone to anti-constitutional measures in order to reach their goal. Thus, an order stating that the Constitutional Court does not have the right to challenge a decision by Parliament has significantly reduced the powers of the supreme judicial body in favor of a largely socio-liberal elected Assembly.

A significant limitation of the powers of the Constitutional Court has been made in order to facilitate the suspension of the President. Moreover, Professor Ioan Stanimor had said at the time to AFP that "The current actions in Romania are well outside the constitutional rules. We are witnessing a suspension of the Constitution and its replacement by the arbitrary desire of a parliamentary majority”. In fact, the Parliament has tried to suspend a man who has fought for reforms in order to combat corruption, in accordance with European requirements and with positive results. While the document aiming for President Băsescu’s suspension accused him of violating the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, it is clear that it is rather the USL that has challenged the democracy.

The Referendum of the 29th July 2012, a Questionable Organization

The most attentive noted that the date, whether chosen intentionally or not, has a significant historical resonance. July 29, 1947, the troops of Petru Groza eliminated the Romanian Peasant political party and put into place a communist regime. The date is significant and the historical events to which it refers are worth recalling.

As regards the referendum itself, it is important to understand that even its organization sparked numerous debates Even more so as the event wanted to be perceived as a clear and necessary procedure, if only to show the Romanian democracy is well functioning. The opening hours of the polls have been a hotly debated subject which eventually resulted in the decision of the Constitutional Court stating that the Romanians could come to the polls between 7 am. and 11 pm., unjustifiable especially in the Romanian countryside, where no one is on the road after 21:00. The time-frame clearly favored electoral fraud which is currently being revealed by police-investigations. Another problem was the large number of voting sections, particularly concerning the Romanian coast. All these actions had a clear purpose: to convince Romanians to vote so as to acquire the established quorum of 50% +1 needed to validate the referendum. However, voting is a right and not an obligation; to compel or even incite someone to vote is a crime. Thus Radu Mazăre, the mayor of Constanta (main port) has to answer to justice for having taken - maybe even forced - several girls to the polls.

International Uproar towards the Policy of the USL

A few days before the referendum, José Manuel Barroso expressed concern about the political situation in the country, saying that "Romania is on a precipice." Against the "allegations of pressure and intimidation," the President of the European Commission emphasized the need to preserve the powers of the Constitutional Court in order to respect the independence of judges. "In this context, it is of paramount importance to allow the Constitutional Court itself to clarify its position, if it considers it necessary, and all other parties should refrain from making their own interpretation”, he said. Thus the report on justice made by the European Commission in July was entirely destroyed over the course of a few days during which the USL committed serious indiscretions. This despite the fact that Romania has made significant efforts in terms of justice and the fight against corruption in recent years, especially with regards to the conviction of former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase.

An Unsuccessful Impeachment

Participation in the referendum was at 46.23%, where 87.52% of voters voted for the impeachment of the President. Quorum was not met, the Romanians had expressed their desire to keep the President Băsescu by their silence and he will thus remain at the Cotroceni Palace. "The Romanians rejected the coup of 256 parliamentarians led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta and interim president Crin Antonescu. Romanians have determined their fate by invalidating the referendum, "said the President at the announcement of the results. The Chairman has resumed his duties, still committed to the European course to which he has always been so attached.

The cohabitation will continue with the hope that the Socialists and the Liberals will finally focus on the real problems that Romania is facing, in particular by implementing the promised social reforms. The best solution would be for the political forces to unite in order to find solutions to the financial crisis and its consequences for Romania, especially by seeking solutions to the socio-economic problems for which the people have paid the price.


This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

The Attempted Impeachment of the President a Symptom of Tensions between the Head of State and his Government

10/08/2012 - 16:03
On July 29th, Romanians were asked to vote on a very sensitive issue: should the President of Romania, Traian Băsescu, be impeached? Clearly, the Parliament and a considerable number of citizens question the way that Traian Băsescu has governed the country.

The proposal to impeach the President was made by the Parliament, the legitimate body to question the mandate of the Head of State. However, Parliament can only propose the impeachment; the final act of removal is in the hands of the people who express their opinion by referendum. On July 4th, the coalition government (Social Democratic Union) proposes an impeachment. The proposal was then put to the vote. The reasons given in the act were «the President’s encouragement to disrespect the decisions of the Constitutional Court", "the president’s pressure towards the judges of the Constitutional Court," and the fact that he has overtaken the functions of the Government. Before the change in government, the ruling party was the Democrat-Liberal Party, which supports President Traian Băsescu. President Băsescu has often been accused of maintaining a Government PD-L front and of getting involved in the function of government. In fact, the PD-L Government's austerity measures are largely attributed to Traian Băsescu. This in addition to the endless corruption scandals regarding members of the PD-L Government and even the President himself have severely decreased the trust of the public.

The referendum of July 29th a necessity in order to make the voice of the Romanian people heard

The context of the summer of 2012 showed the great discontent of the population with regards to how Traian Băsescu was exercising his mandate. The anger of the former electors showed itself during the demonstrations that took place in winter in Bucharest and other Romanian cities. At the time, the outcry was caused by the President’s attitude in a conflict with one of the secretaries of the State Ministry of Health, Raed Arafat. Moreover, the slow results of the austerity measures accentuated the discontent of the population towards Traian Băsescu and the ruling party (PD-L). In short, the people did not feel well represented by their President, but it refused to resign and wait for the next presidential elections. So it was that Parliament gave the people the opportunity to express themselves.

The arrival of the Social-Liberal Union in Government in spring made expectations grow in regards to an improvement in the political situation in Romania. This change allowed the opposition to strengthen itself, with the declared support of the Government. Thus, the impeachment proposal of the USL was passed in Parliament. In this way, a real vote of confidence was made possible; a referendum. The results clearly show that the majority of those who voted (87.52%, representing 7,403,836 Romanians) do not think that President Băsescu is fit to represent them. Supporters of the President cited a low participation rate, which was also the cause of the non-validation of referendum. However, over the course of 20 years this has shown itself to be a common phenomenon which shows the unfortunate lack of confidence of the Romanian people in the political class.

The Reactions of the President and his Supporters, Lacking in Political Honesty

Immediately following the declaration of the Constitutional Court which approved a referendum for July 29th 2012, President Băsescu and his supporting party PD-L, have done their best to make the project fail. Among other things, the President and the PD-L advised people on July 24th, mere days before the referendum, to boycott. This statement goes against political fair play and was considered as unconstitutional by the USL. Trying to convince the people that it should not make use of its rights is unacceptable for any politician. This shows once again that President Băsescu is determined to retain his seat at any cost.

The examples of unacceptable conduct in a democracy are numerous and they are not purely restricted to statements that promote abstention from voting. Shortly after the promulgation of the referendum results surveys were conducted to expose the supposed corruption in the voting process, including cases of multiple voting. What is surprising is that this type of survey, where villagers were interrogated without explanation and were visibly intimidated, occurred in departments administered by elected representatives of the USL. This clearly shows the PD-L attempt to discredit the current coalition government in putting pressure on ordinary citizens.

The Attempted Impeachment Revelatory of the Unpopularity of the President

In conclusion, even though the referendum was not validated and Basescu remains the president of Romania, the conditions have changed. The president’s lack of legitimacy was formally expressed in the referendum by the fact that more than 7 million Romanians disagree with how Traian Băsescu performs his mandate. Unfortunately, the chances of a good collaboration between the President and the USL Government are small, due to the fact that neither of them makes a real effort to communicate and seek a compromise.


This article deliberately presents only one of the many existing points of views of this contorversial subject. Its content is not necessarily representative of its author's personal opinion. Please have a look at Duel Amical's philosophy.

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The Attempted Impeachment of the President a Symptom of Tensions between the Head of State and his Government


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