At a polling station in Mamaia, near the Black Sea, July 29 2012.

A referendum where everyone is a loser

Called on to confirm the impeachment of President Traian Băsescu by referendum, the Romanians have delivered two messages. With their low turnout of just 46.23 percent, they have invalidated the referendum, and thus allowed the president to cling on to power. But by voting overwhelmingly for his dismissal (87.52 percent), they have left him him weakened.

Published on 30 July 2012 at 15:20
At a polling station in Mamaia, near the Black Sea, July 29 2012.

“Nearly nine million Romanians have told Băsescu clearly that he has nothing left to do at Cotroceni,” the presidential palace, writes Jurnalul Naţional. “He will indeed return, but by jumping the railing he is coming back as a cheat.” The paper, which is close to the USL, the coalition government of Victor Ponta that wanted to impeach Băsescu, attributes this result partly to the fact that —

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was allowed to ask 1.5 million Romanian citizens [the Hungarian minority] not to vote in the referendum. [...] The inappropriate behaviour of some European officials [who have spoken out against what was called a “coup”] have created an anti-European mood in the country. [...] Cohabitation with President Băsescu being impossible, his political imposture will quickly come to an end quickly – probably well before 2014 [date of the next presidential election.

România libéră, for its part, fears that —


Receive the best of European journalism straight to your inbox every Thursday

The invalidation of the referendum does not solve the political crisis, but amplifies it. What follows will be days of tension, of street demonstrations and, most likely, new attempts from the Left to unseat Traian Băsescu. With, as an added gift, political and economic instability for the country.

Adevărul announces that Romania’s currency, the lei, has lost seven percent against the euro since the start of the political crisis, and also the arrival of the IMF in Bucharest on July 31 to —

... assess the problems caused by the political scandal.

Ultimately, however, regrets Gândul, the big loser of this episode is Romanian democracy —

Democracy has been the victim of a gang rape. First by Prime Minister Victor Ponta and the interim president Crin Antonescu, who worked hard, to the very limits of the law, to suspend the president. Then by the president, who violated the democratic essence of the referendum by calling for a boycott; and finally by the people, who have failed to honour the essence of democracy.

Was this article useful? If so we are delighted! It is freely available because we believe that the right to free and independent information is essential for democracy. But this right is not guaranteed forever, and independence comes at a cost. We need your support in order to continue publishing independent, multilingual news for all Europeans. Discover our membership offers and their exclusive benefits and become a member of our community now!

Are you a news organisation, a business, an association or a foundation? Check out our bespoke editorial and translation services.

Support independent European journalism

European democracy needs independent media. Join our community!

On the same topic