UPDATE EXIT POLLS: About 85% of Romanian voters opt in favor of dismissing President Traian Basescu in Sunday referendum, but two hours before closing polls turnout was smaller than necessary threshold for validation. Turnout at closing polls: 45,92%
50% plus one of the total number of listed voters in Romania have to cast their votes by 11 p.m. for the referendum to be validated, with President Basescu and his political supporters urging people not to attend the poll, which they call a "coup d'etat" attempt by the governing coalition.
A separate exit poll by CCSB company for Antena 3 news channel showed 84% of active voters voted in favor of the impeachment and 16% against it, with a turnout of 44% by 9 p.m.
UPDATE Preliminary turnout data for closing polls (11.00 p.m.) announced by the Central Electoral Office late in the night show 45.92% of the total number of listed voters cast their ballots in the referendum, less than the 50%+1 threshold for the referendum to be validated. The preliminary turnout data have a margin of +/-3%. Final data on the turnout and results of the referendum will be announced on Monday,
With official estimations and results for closing polls (11.00 p.m.) yet to be released, officials of the governing coalition of Social Democrats and Liberals (USL) appeared on Antena 3 news channel claiming that according to their own ballot count more than 50% of the population showed up and voted by 11.00 p.m., meaning that the referendum would be validated.
Later in the night, PM Victor Ponta refrained from giving party figures regarding the turnout as he held a speech congratulating the people who showed up and voted today. Ponta said the high turnout and the vote to dismiss the President gave new proof of legitimacy for his government.
But suspended President Traian Basescu made his own statements, claiming that by not showing up to vote Romanians rejected a "coup d'etat" and that the "flame of democracy remains lit". He reaffirmed his certitude that the referendum was an attempted "coup d'etat" by 256 MPs led by PM Victor Ponta and Liberal leader - and interim president - Crin Antonescu.
For his part, Crin Antonescu made a statement saying that everybody would wait for the official results "democratically and in a civilized manner". He said that "today was a great day because Romanian voters spoke out strongly as nations with a real vocation for democracy speak out".
Late in the evening, shortly before closing polls, representatives of Basescu's campaign team accused the governing coalition of using mobile voting boxes to illegally try and reach the necessary number of votes for the referendum to be validated.
During an event in Romania on Saturday, Hungarian PM Viktor Orban referred to the situation in Romania and suggested that a possibility in the Sunday referendum was that Romanians and ethnic Hungarians make good decisions such as making no decision at all, as reported by Romanian news agency Agerpres.
The statement was largely criticized by Romanian government officials including PM Victor Ponta, who said he was outraged that his Hungarian counterpart was urging ethnic Hungarian citizens of Romania do not vote in the referendum. On TV channels seen as close to the governing coalition, Orban's statement was described as an interference with Romania's domestic affairs and as a possible reason for the low voter turnout in Transylvanian counties with a large ethnic Hungarian population.
Late on Sunday evening, Interior minister Ioan Rus described the referendum procedures in a positive manner, saying it was well organized and that by 9 p.m. a total of 293 incidents were confirmed. Earlier in the day, PM Victor Ponta said that he had talked to the Interior minister and that no irregularity had been reported. He called that all claims of irregularities by Traian Basescu's team were "campaign tricks".
However, the Interior and Administration Ministry announced that by 5.00 p.m. 179 incidents of a total of 385 submitted notifications had been confirmed. And top officials of the governing coalition and of Traian Basescu's Democratic Liberal supporters submitted criminal complaints against each other for breaching the referendum regulations.