Romanians will vote Sunday on whether to oust their country’s president as part of an impeachment process that the European Union says threatens to undermine the former communist-bloc nation’s young democracy. The nationwide recall referendum comes amid a partisan feud between a resurgent left, led by new Prime Minister Victor Ponta, and center-right politicians, including President Traian Basescu, whose popularity has been severely dented by austerity measures and a weak economy. Recent legislative and political maneuvers carried out by Mr. Ponta’s supporters and designed to make it easier to remove Mr. Basescu have drawn fire from critics inside and outside Romania who say the moves endanger the rule of law and judicial independence. Under pressure from the EU, which Romania joined in 2007, Mr. Ponta, a 39-year-old Social Democrat, agreed to roll back measures the regional group found objectionable. However, a parliamentary vote to impeach Mr. Basescu, which triggered Sunday’s ballot, remains in force. EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said Wednesday that Brussels is “still very much worried on the state of democracy in Romania.”
The political feuding, which has preoccupied the government, also has pushed the Romanian currency, the leu, to record lows against the euro, as investors question whether the authorities will be able to move forward with necessary economic restructuring measures.
Public-opinion polls indicate that more than 60% of Romanians favor removing the president. But for the referendum to be valid, more than half the country’s registered voters must cast ballots, a threshold that could be hard to meet, with backers of the president calling for a boycott. In moving to impeach Mr. Basescu, Parliament found he had exceeded his constitutional authority by, among other things, involving himself in affairs that are the province of the prime minister.
Full Article: Romanians to Hold Recall Vote – WSJ.com.