Romania holds referendum for presidential impeachment
Sunday, 29 July 2012 07:20 GMT
Romanians started voting Sunday on the impeachment of President Traian Basescu, who was suspended by the parliament for alleged abuses of power. The voting stations opened at 7:00 a.m. local time (0500 GMT) and are to close at 11:00 p.m. (2100 GMT). A total of 18,548 polling stations, of which 18,242 in the country and 306 abroad, were readied for 18,292,514 voters registered on the rolls. Some 50,000 employees of the Interior Ministry will take action for the proper conduct of the activities on Sunday, announced the ministry in a release, adding that around 33,000 staff will guard the voting locations. This is the second time that Traian Basescu goes through an impeachment referendum, after he survived the popular consultation organized on May 19, 2007. According to the referendum law, the president is dismissed with 50 percent plus one vote of those voting and the referendum is considered valid if the turnout is 50 percent plus one citizen from the permanent electoral lists. The campaign for the presidential impeachment referendum wrapped up on Saturday evening. It had been running since July 7, the day after the Parliament decided to suspend Basescu by a vote of 256 to 114. For three weeks, Basescu's main supporter the Democrat Liberal professed right from the start its solidarity with the suspended president, supporting him throughout the campaign. Whereas at the earlier rallies, the watchword to the electorate was to vote against the president's ousting, and the political tune was completely changed on July 24 when the party decided to boycott the referendum in a bid to make the process invalid by an insufficient voter turnout. On the other hand, high-profile members of the ruling Social Liberal Union called on the citizens to go to the polls as the referendum would be valid only on a turnout of over 50 percent. The parliament approved on July 6 the impeachment request against the president submitted by the ruling Social Liberal Union, a ruling alliance made up of the Social Democratic Party, the National Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. The union came to power three months ago after a no-confidence motion toppled the 78-day-long Democrat Liberal government led by former intelligence chief Mihai Razvan Ungureanu.