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Romanian Opposition Starts President Impeachment Procedure

Romania’s opposition parties will try again to impeach President Traian Basescu, beginning with a vote in Parliament to temporarily suspend him, on grounds that he doesn’t respect the rule of law and is in breach of the constitution.

The leaders of the Social-Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, which form an alliance and don’t have a majority in Parliament, plan to ask for support from their parties and persuade some members of the ruling coalition for help, Crin Antonescu, the Liberals’ head, told a news conference today.

“This process is not a trifle,” Antonescu said. “We’re trying to avoid another year of serious dissolution of the rule of law, because Basescu’s latest comments show he’s a person who doesn’t give any semblance of accepting the power of the judicial system.”

The opposition failed to impeach Basescu in 2007 after citizens later reinstated him through a referendum vote. The two parties now say Basescu has overstepped his constitutional authority through comments saying pensions and public wages will be frozen next year because of budgetary constraints and some increases won in court will be postponed.

Votes Needed

The Social Democrats and Liberals, who control 217 votes in a 470-seat Parliament, need 235 votes to suspend Basescu. If the parliament votes in favor of the suspension, the country by law must organize a referendum within 30 days. The president will be fired if more than half of eligible voters ratify the lawmakers’ decision.

“We will do whatever we can to get the Parliament to vote on the suspension,” Social-Democratic leader Victor Ponta said. “Once we get that out of the way, then the people’s vote will mark our victory.”

Traian Basescu, 60, won a second presidential term in 2009, supported by the current ruling coalition, formed by the Democrat-Liberal Party, the ethnic Hungarian’s Party and the Independents’ Party. The coalition has a 246-vote majority in Parliament.

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