30 July 2012Romanian President Traian Basescu has survived an impeachment referendum due to low voter turnout.
The referendum required 50 percent plus one vote of eligible voters to be valid. The Central Election Bureau said on July 30 that turnout was just over 46 percent.
Basescu and the center-right opposition had called for a boycott of the referendum.
Basescu said on July 29 that Romanians "invalidated the referendum by not participating."
"Romanians, through their vote, which, let it be clear, was not in my favor, voted for Romania. They voted in low numbers and according to their conscience. The majority stayed at home," Basescu said.
"In this way they manifested their will, they consolidated the idea that Romania cannot return to a society led by somebody's whim, without rules, to a society led by a group of politicians deciding the fate of Romanians."
The referendum came after Romania's left-of-center government, led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, moved to suspend Basescu over claims that he exceeded his authority and meddled in government affairs.
Basescu, who denies the accusations, was then suspended by the leftist-controlled parliament after a series of moves by Ponta's alliance.
The moves led to warnings from the European Union and United States that democracy in the EU member state was under threat.
Following these warnings, Ponta's government abandoned attempts to amend the referendum law and curb the Constitutional Court's powers.
Victim Of Politics
Reports of fraud in areas controlled by Ponta's alliance were abundant during the July 29 referendum.
Among the suspicious moves were mobile ballot boxes placed in chalets on mountain tops, as well as on the Black Sea's crowded beaches, on one of the hottest days of the year.
The drive to push Basescu out has caused a gridlock in political decision-making in Bucharest and sent the national currency plummeting.
It also raised doubts about the fate of Romania's 5 billion-euro ($7 billion) aid deal from the International Monetary Fund.
On July 30, the Romanian currency, the leu, gained in value for the first time in several weeks.
Despite the failure of the referendum, Ponta nevertheless claimed on July 30 that the vote was "practically won," since 87 percent of those who voted were in favor of impeachment.
"The vote expressed at the referendum represents an absolute majority of the Romanians' democratic will," Ponta said.
"I want to thank them on behalf of the [governing leftist alliance] Social-Liberal Union and to say that the referendum has been practically won and that never before did a political action have such large support -- [there were] more than 8 million Romanians who voted."
The result now has to be validated by the Constitutional Court.
Parliamentary elections are expected in November.
With reporting by hotnews.ro, tvrinfo.ro, AP, and AFP