A week on from the Romanian referendum on the impeachment of President Traian Băsescu and Romanian politics are still in turmoil. Approximately 8.5 million (46%) citizens with a right to vote submitted their opinion on the impeachment, and the results show that roughly 87% of the total number of votes expressed consent to dismiss the President. As we predicted, however, the figures fell short of a necessary quorum, and it briefly seemed as if Băsescu would return to Cotroceni and resume his activity as President of Romania when the Central Election Bureau officially invalidated the referendum.
The Constitutional Court was to rule on the referendum on August 2; however, the verdict has been delayed until August 31 because the member judges must first examine and respond to an objection according to which the total number of citizens considered eligible for participating in the referendum is outdated. These suspicions will have to be clarified in order to sanction whether the quorum has been met and, consequently, starting on Monday, county prefects will begin renewing electoral lists.
This move, whilst politically useful for the opposition, also has a basis in figures: the census in 2011 showed a population of just over 19 million Romanians, so the possibility that the 18.3 million listed on the electoral roll are in fact all eligible to vote (or indeed, alive) seems unlikely. The continuing political crisis will not alleviate tensions that have seen the Romanian currency, the Leu, slip to new lows, in spite of reassurance from Acting President Antonescu that the instability is over. This political crisis, and the markets, may not truly re-stabilise until after the parliamentary elections approaching in the autumn. If the economy slips further then both parties involved may pay a price at the ballot box.
All sides have faced calls to end the ongoing political deadlock, while Băsescu awaits the court’s decision in spite of the political cost attached to the election campaign: he has survived an impeachment attempt before, and is known to be a political fighter. The President also still faces calls for investigation from some in the opposition over previous allegations including the ‘Fleet’ File, which has cropped up previously in his career, and which he claims there is no case to answer. His reasons for leaving office without awaiting the court decision are altogether extremely few, in spite of calls to stand down from the opposition and some media.
Whichever way the Court rules, the referendum has underlined the partisanship in Romanian politics and the hoped for amelioration of instability is not materialising, yet. The next few months will be important and interesting in the lead up to the elections.
Andreea Anghel, Junior Associate
Dan Ridler, Chief Editor