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DEMOCRACY
EU urges respect for Romania ruling
by Staff Writers
Brussels (UPI) Aug 23, 2012


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The European Union has urged feuding Romanian political factions to comply with a court decision to reinstate embattled President Traian Basescu to office.

The Romanian Constitutional Court issued a decision Tuesday declaring a July 29 referendum to impeach Basescu invalid due to lack of a quorum and the European Commission reacted by urging all political parties to respect the high court's eagerly awaited decision.

"The European Commission takes note of this decision and considers that it will now be of utmost importance for all political actors to comply with the decision of the Constitutional Court," the EU leaders said in a statement.

"Accordingly, the legal procedure to reinstate President Basescu should be respected. The European Commission expects the Romanian authorities to abide by the rule of law and the decisions of the Constitutional Court."

After a lengthy deliberation, the court ruled the impeachment referendum was invalid because only 46 percent of registered voters participated -- less than the required validity threshold of more than 50 percent.

Among those who did vote, 87.5 percent opted to impeach the president.

The ruling brought grudging compliance from Prime Minister Victor Ponta, caretaker President Crin Antonescu and other members of the center-left Social Liberal Union coalition, which had sought the ouster of the rightist Basescu for allegedly overstepping his constitutional bounds and failing to deal with government corruption.

Antonescu said he will leave office but considers Basescu's rule illegitimate following his suspension by Parliament last month, the Romanian national news agency Agerpres reported.

"The course of the ensuing procedures will be carried out, nobody is questioning the observance of the (constitutional court) ruling," he said. "We consider such ruling unfair, because it ignores a real majority of the citizens who should have established the required turnout."

The ruling was flawed, he said, because the data it used to determine the country's population failed to take into account more than 3 million voters who have died or have been forced to leave the impoverished country to find work abroad.

Romania's population has fallen 2.6 million to 19 million in the last 10 years due to emigration and a low birth rate, census results released in February indicated.

Basescu appealed for unity after the decision was announced, asserting it was time to move on, Euronews reported.

"We have to restore a functioning democratic Romania, and restore our credibility," he said.

The overwhelming vote to impeach Basescu indicated deep anger at his policies of supporting wage cuts and tax increases as a condition of a $25 billion rescue package agreed to in 2009 with the European Union, International Monetary Fund and World Bank, analysts said.

The European Union indicated it is concerned about the development of democratic institutions as Romania has struggled with its constitutional crisis.

"The European Commission calls on all political forces to respect European values, to act with responsibility and to work constructively in overcoming divisions, in Romania's best interests," the Brussels statement said. "Respect for the rule of law and independence of the judiciary are essential for restoring political stability and economic confidence in Romania."

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