Friday, April 20, 2007

President of Romania President no more

In 2004 Romanians elected this dynamic right-wing reformer named Traian Basescu as their president. He was all pro-business and anti-corruption and tired to make a lot of sweeping changes to Romanian politics and society. Romania joined the European Union on New Year's Day of this year, a fact which Mr. Basescu has used to justify a lot of his reforms. "We must must transform our humble country from a nation of backwards goat-headers and vampires into a dynamic European super-state!" he says. Well not exactly in those words.
Fun fact: President Basescu is one of the few remaining world leaders who is unflinchingly supportive of the war in Iraq.
The President is popular with the people, but not with the rest of the political establishment. The parliament remains dominated by left-wing parties who are quite anti-Basescu. For largely partisan reasons I don't entirely understand, they recently decided to impeach the President, even though the Supreme Court said he had committed no impeachable offense.

Yesterday the Parliament voted 322 to 108 in favor of impeachment, narrowly missing the two-thirds majority needed. So instead they are going with plan B.

President Basescu was declared suspended from office for one month. He was replaced by the Speaker of the Senate, Mr. Nicolae Vacaroiu. Before the 30-day period is up, the parliament will call a referendum on removing Basescu from office permanently. But the good old Associated Press says that this is just a waste of time:

More than half of voting-age Romanians would have to approve a referendum for it to pass, which would be virtually impossible, given Basescu’s popularity and the usually low turnout in Romanian ballots.

And even if he was impeached, he says he'll just run again. That's an interesting impeachment loophole we rarely think about. Impeachment is only effective if it's shameful and humiliating. If they guy doesn't care, and the people still love him, it's not particularly effective.


Psudo said...

If the President is still very popular after impeachment, the impeachment procedure itself is in question. This "loophole" makes good sense.

Ricardo said...

I was reading about that - their Parliament wants to introduce legislation that would stop impeached politicos from re-running.

Anonymous said...

The Romanian parliment may find itself bitten quite badly by this. It reminds me of South Korean politics a few years back. The parliament there, dominated by HanNaraDang (I don't know these party names in English), attempted to impeach Roh Mu Hyun, who was then very popular. They failed, and many switched to Roh Mu Hyun's party, Oori Nara. Before the impeachment, Oori Nara was quite small. Of course, now Roh Mu Hyun approval ratings are in the toilet, and HanNaraDang's fortunes appear to be on the rise again...

gabitzu said...

Photos from the both meetings Pro Basescu in Bucharest, Romania are here:

The first meeting from Piata Universitatii Square

The second meeting from Piata Constitutiei Square

The supporters from the second meeting

Anonymous said...

He's back in office.

As a side not I must say you should read up before declaring "a nation of backwards goat-headers".
95% of active romanians speak two or more languages (romanian+at least one foreign language)
Literacy is 99% and in the early '90s internet penetration in Romania surpassed US internet penetration (by percentage)
And this is a country with 22 mil citizens

Main exports are cars (the Logan - you might have heard of it as it's dominating budget car markets everywhere) followed by oil and IT+software (Microsoft and Google constantly recruit romanians).

Just FYI

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