Outcome Unclear of Romanian Vote on President

The result of the referendum on President Traian Basescu is hard to call; no on knows whether enough people will turn out for the result to be valid.There is still no obvious outcome to the presidential referendum on July 29, when Romanians are to vote on whether to impeach country’s suspended President, Traian Basescu.

While all polls say that support for Basescu is at a low level, the question is whether at least 50 per cent of around 18 million people eligible to vote will cast ballots, without which the referendum result will not be valid.Only about 28 per cent of voters do not want Basescu to be impeached, according to an opinion poll by pollster Operations Research.

Basescu was Romania’s most popular politician for a decade, but lost support over widely disliked health reforms and austerity measures that were introduced on his watch.

His impeachment has divided the country, with supporters and opponents spending hours engaged in bitter verbal battles in public spaces, on the internet and on television.

“I want the President removed. Nothing more. He’s the one who cut my pension and who didn’t take care of people in need,” said Cristina Lutan, a 68-year-old pensioner.

That same message is promoted by Victor Ponta’s leftist ruling coalition, which blames the suspended President for harsh economic measures taken in 2010, when Romania cut public sector pay by 25 per cent while upping VAT.

On the other hand, the main opposition Democratic Liberal Party, PDL, has urged supporters of Basescu not to vote at all, in order to invalidate the referendum result.

“I won’t vote because there are many reasons to be worried about fraud in the referendum. Basescu should stay in office as he is openly against corrupt politicians,” one middle-aged man, who asked not to be named, said.

Basescu has not endorsed the PDL’s call, saying he will continue to urge voters to take part in the referendum and vote against his impeachement.

Parliament voted on July 6 to suspend Basescu as President for 30 days and established July 29 as the day of a referendum in the next stage of a campaign to impeach him.

Prime Minister Ponta has accused Basescu of blocking government reforms, of abusing his position to grant favours to his allies and of interfering in the judicial system.

Basescu says his adversaries are taking revenge for the corruption conviction this year of former prime minister Adrian Nastase, a senior member of Ponta’s governing coalition.

Basescu accused the government of attempting a “coup d’etat” not just against him but also against the judiciary.

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