Romania’s Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled that at least half the electorate must cast ballots in a recall referendum aimed at removing the president for the vote to be valid, a new twist to a bitter partisan feud between a resurgent left and a right no longer favored by an austerity-weary electorate. The government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, a Social Democrat who took office in May, has drawn criticism from European capitals and local civil liberties groups for a series of rapid-fire maneuvers that set the stage for the impeachment of right-leaning President Traian Basescu. Parliament voted Friday to suspend Mr. Basescu. The national vote on whether he should be ejected from office is to be held July 29. The court upheld a new law lowering the threshold for removal to a majority of the votes cast, but added the turnout proviso, which could make for a close election.
European and U.S. officials have cautioned Mr. Ponta to respect the rule of law and judicial independence as the battle with Mr. Basescu has escalated, saying that the government’s push to remove the president risks undermining democratic checks and balances. “We are concerned by the speed and consequences of decisions taken over the past few weeks,” Pia Ahrenkilde Hansen, a spokeswoman for the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, said Tuesday.
Mr. Ponta—who said his government would respect the court’s ruling—plans to visit Brussels Thursday for a meeting with the commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso. Romania joined the EU in 2007, and is the group’s second-poorest member after Bulgaria.
Full Article: Romanian Court Raises Bar for Recalling President – WSJ.com.