SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Glenn Rossman, Cynthia Dunlop

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On Eve of Elections, Romanian MEP Warns that President Basescu Will Again Ignore Constitution and Rule of Law

BRUSSELS, December 4, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Despite opinion polls showing that the incumbent Social Liberal Union (USL) would win by a large 57% majority in Romania's parliamentary elections on December 9th, the ruling coalition partner National Liberal Party (PNL) expressed fears that President Traian Basescu would not nominate the winning candidate.

"There are legitimate fears that President Basescu will once again ignore the constitution, the free will of the voters and the rule of law in Romania, refusing to designate the candidate of the winning parliamentary majority as Prime Minister," said Norica Nicolai, the leader of the Romanian delegation in the ALDE Group in the European Parliament and Vice-President of the National Liberal Party.

She pointed out that Article 103 of the Romanian Constitution clearly states that the President should designate the Prime Minister as a result of his consultation with the party, which has obtained absolute majority in Parliament.

Continuous clashes between two-term President Basescu from the Democrat-Liberal Party (PDL) and Prime Minister Victor Ponta from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) have marked the Romanian political scene since Ponta was appointed in April 2012. Ponta and his liberal ally Crin Antonescu came to power following the toppling of the two previous right-wing governments from PDL, which had close links to Basescu: the short-lived Ungureanu government, which was dismissed by a no-confidence vote and the Boc cabinet, whose Prime Minister resigned after massive public protests.

Recently President Basescu made a bizarre remark about Ponta saying that he could "swallow a frog but not a pig," indicating that he would not reappoint Ponta no matter how the elections would turn out.  

President Traian Basescu was narrowly reelected with 50,33% of the vote in December 2009, two years after surviving his first impeachment referendum. In July, Basescu was again suspended by parliament, with a referendum on his impeachment resulting in an overwhelming majority supporting his dismissal. However, the Romanian Constitutional Court invalidated the plebiscite, as voter turnout was slightly below the 50% threshold, and reinstated Basescu as President.

Referring to President Jose Manuel Barroso's and Commissioner Viviane Reading's statements in support of President Basescu during the impeachment process, MEP Norica Nicolai commented: "This hypocritical support for Basescu is damaging Romania and EU's image in Romania. Our people are growing more euro-sceptical when they see that the EU leaders are putting pressure on Romania to pursue undemocratic processes. For instance, our government was asked to restore a turnout threshold for a referendum, which was not even in place when President Basescu was first suspended from office in 2007."

Nicolai explained that such a quorum was not in line with the Code of Good Practice of Referendums of the Venice Commission as "it assimilates voters who abstain to those who vote no," undermining the democratic will of some 7,5 million voters. "This was the highest number of voters Romania ever had in a referendum albeit the heat of the summer," Nicolai added.

"Our country needs stability more than ever to increase trust of investors and to improve the living standards of the Romanian people. Therefore we expect the President to abide by democratic standards and rule of law, to respect the election results and to act in an impartial and cooperative manner as stipulated in the Romanian constitution," said Nicolai.

Social Liberal Union including Ponta's PSD and Antonescu's PNL, Alliance for the Romanian Right dominated by Basescu's allies in PDL, the populist party of media tycoon Dan Diaconescu and other parties, including those of minority groups will compete in the legislative elections to obtain seats in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

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