Romania Political Turmoil Continues After Ruling Delayed

Romania’s Constitutional Court postponed a ruling on validating the results of a July 29 referendum to impeach suspended President Traian Basescu, prolonging the political turmoil that has weakened the leu.

The nine-member panel postponed a judgment until Sept. 12 to review electoral documents and voter lists after receiving conflicting data from the central electoral bureau and the statistics institute, according to a court statement released today in Bucharest. The government must send an updated list of voters to the court by Aug. 31.

The decision to postpone a ruling as the court waits to decide if a minimum turnout threshold was reached will prolong a battle between Basescu and Premier Victor Ponta that helped weakened the leu 4 percent against the euro in the past month, boosted borrowing costs and delayed a review of an international bailout before parliamentary elections in November or December.

“The referendum should have been annulled” because the authorities provided “inaccurate data,” Aspazia Cojocaru, one of the judges, told reporters in Bucharest.

Turnout for the referendum called by Ponta’s ruling coalition was 46.24 percent, according to the central electoral bureau, below the majority required under the constitution. Of those who took part, 87.52 percent approved Basescu’s ouster, while 11.15 percent chose to keep him in power.

Government Challenge

The government challenged the result, saying the voter lists were outdated and didn’t reflect the real number of registered voters in the country.

“We consider the court’s decision as correct and we will respect it,” Ponta said in an e-mailed statement today. “We will start discussions with all the institutions responsible for updating the voting lists and the process will be done in a legal and transparent manner.”

The International Monetary Fund and the European Union started a planned quarterly review of Romania’s 5 billion-euro ($6.1 billion) precautionary accord on July 31.

The plebiscite was boycotted by the Democrat-Liberal party, which backs Basescu, to ensure turnout was below 50 percent of the 18.3 million voters on the lists used by the electoral bureau to organize the referendum.

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