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UPDATE Romania interim president Antonescu, PM Ponta say they will comply with Court decision allowing suspended president Basescu return to office, call decision "unfair" and Basescu "illegitimate" head of state​ Romania's interim President Crin Antonescu said on Tuesday he and his National Liberal Party would comply with a Constitutional Court earlier today allowing suspended President Traian Basescu return to office. But Antonescu said the Court decision was "unfair" for the 8.5 million people who voted in a referendum to dismiss Basescu and that he and his party would not recognize him politically, as Basescu "is an illegitimate president". Referring to a statement weeks ago that he would withdraw from politics should Basescu return to office, Antonescu said he would not do so considering the massive vote to dismiss Basescu.UPDATE Crin Antonescu and other Liberal leaders said on Tuesday they would not exclude a new attempt to suspend President Basescu in the future.UPDATE 2 PM Victor Ponta, a Social Democrat, also said on Tuesday the Court decision would be complied with, but called it "unfair" and "against democratic rules".
UPDATE Constitutional Court invalidates referendum to dismiss suspended President. Traian Basescu to return to Presidency The nine judges of Romania's Constitutional Court decided on Tuesday that the July 29 referendum to dismiss suspended President Traian Basescu was invalid. Six members of the Court decided to invalidate the poll and three against it. The vote means President Traian Basescu, who has been suspended by the Parliament, returns to the Presidency. The judges convened today to decide whether the referendum was valid or not. The Court session came after weeks of political turmoil as the governing coalition led by Social Democratic PM Victor Ponta and interim President Crin Antonescu has been trying hard to find ways so that a Court decision force Basescu to leave. The struggle has drawn massive criticism and suspicions about rule of law in Romania.
Romania PM Victor Ponta announces key changes in Government reshuffle Romanian PM Victor Ponta announced on Monday a series of proposals to change key members of his government, saying they were already accepted by interim President Crin Antonescu. He announced new ministers for the Interior and Administration Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Justice Ministry. The move comes after Interior minister Ioan Rus and another minister announced their resignation on Monday morning.
Romania Interior minister resigns accusing pressure from suspended president and interim president Romania's Interior and Administration minister Ioan Rus announced his resignation on Monday accusing pressure from both suspended President Traian Basescu and interim President Crin Antonescu. His resignation comes amid continuing political turmoil as Romania still waits for a final result of the June 29 referendum to dismiss President Basescu because of disputes on the voter lists used in the poll.
Political crisis continues as Romania's Constitutional Court postpones decision on referendum to dismiss president Basescu, pressure mounts on economy​ Romania's Constitutional Court (CCR) decided on Thursday to postpone until September 12 a decision on the validation of the Sunday referendum to dismiss the president, in which not enough votes were cast to exceed a 50% turnout threshold needed for the ballot to take effect. The news was announced by a CCR judge, quoted by TV news channels. The Court decision to postpone such a decision does little to solve the political crisis affecting Romania for the past weeks. Romania's central bank governor was among the last to warn today that a calmer domestic political life would help alleviate pressures on the economy.UPDATE CCR later issued a press release showing that the postponement of a decision was due to "contradicting data" regarding the number of people on electoral lists.
Final vote count in referendum to dismiss Romania president: 46.24% of listed voters cast their ballots, less than 50% threshold needed to validate poll Voter turnout in the Sunday referendum, in which Romanians were asked if they agreed to dismiss President Traian Basescu, stood at 46,24%, according to final figures released by the Central Electoral Office on Wednesday morning. The percentage comes short of the threshold of 50% of listed voters needed for the referendum to be validated. Also on Wednesday, the Constitutional Court is due to convene for a decision whether to validate or invalidate de referendum, with the governing alliance which pushed for Basescu's impeachment now claiming that the participation threshold was exceeded, considering what they call the real number of Romanian voters.
Political struggle continues as Romania waits for final results of referendum to dismiss president Romania's governing coalition and suspended President Traian Basescu's team on Monday morning both claimed victory in the Sunday referendum in which the people were asked to decide whether Basescu should be dismissed or not. Their statements came despite a final verdict from the central electoral office on whether voter turnout was enough to validate the referendum, with preliminary figures showing that a necessary threshold of 50%+1 of listed voters has not been met.
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% 86,9% of Romanian active voters voted in favor of dismissing President Traian Basescu and 13% against it in the Sunday referendum, but voter turnout stood at 44.01% at 9 p.m., two hours before closing polls, according to an Operations Research exit poll presented by news channel Realitatea TV at 11.00 p.m.. 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. 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" by the governing coalition. 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.
Voting day: Referendum starts in Romania to dismiss suspended President Traian Basescu Polling stations across Romania opened early on Sunday for a referendum in which suspended President Traian Basescu faces the vote of the people, who are to choose whether to dismiss him from office or not. The referendum comes three weeks after a decision by the Parliament to suspend the President on grounds that he breached the Constitution, a move which has been described by Basescu and his supporters as a "coup d'etat" and which was based on measures harshly criticized across the European Union. The suspended head of state and his political supporters have urged the people to resist this by refusing to cast their vote today.UPDATE 1 Voter turnout by 10.00 a.m. in the Sunday referendum was 9.05% of the population, the Central Electoral Office announced. Turnout was slightly higher in rural areas (an average of 9.10%) as well as in Bucharest, where turnout stood at 9.39%.UPDATE 2 Voter turnout by 2.00 p.m. stood at 21.37%, according to data collected by the Central Electoral officeUPDATE 3 Turnout at 5.00 p.m. stood at a little more than half the needed votes for the referendum to be validated - 26.89%, according to estimations of the Central Electoral Office.UPDATE 4 Voter turnout at 8 p.m., three hours before closing polls, stood at 37.67%, according to data announced by the Central Electoral Office.
Deal signed by leaders of Romania governing coalition speaks of dismantling key justice, anti-corruption bodies. PM Victor Ponta calls it "intoxication", another signatory confirms it​ ​A document posted on the Internet and indicated by newspaper Adevarul depicts a deal signed by the leaders of Romania's governing coalition with a union of redundant military personnel, other trade unions and civil society organizations. It speaks of dismantling such key state institutions as the Constitutional Court, the National Integrity Agency, the National Anti-Corruption Department and the body studying the archives of the Communist-era secret police, the Securitate. The head of the redundant military personnel's union confirmed the document as real but said it was a draft deal which has to be discussed in detail. For his part, PM Victor Ponta said he only signed the first page of the document and that the story was fabricated by suspended President Traian Basescu's staff.
Romania's Plot to Steal Titan-Nadrag-Calan - Part II Recently uncovered minutes of the Romanian government's plot to steal Titan-Nadrag-Calan from Jewish industrialist Max Ausnit in 1941 are disturbingly similar to the recent efforts of a former Romanian government to confiscate 85% of his descendants' property rights in the same steel plant (as described in the May 2012 issue of The Romanian Digest).Read the first part of the article here
UPDATE Romanian PM Victor's Ponta plagiarism case: two bodies say he copied chunks of doctoral thesis, one says no. Bucharest University commission finds copied text on 115 of 297 thesis pages. Ponta: Decision is politically motivated An ethical commission of the Bucharest University announced on Friday it has found that Romanian PM Victor Ponta's 2003 doctoral thesis included plagiarized text. This is the third verdict in the case, after two other academic bodies analyzed the text and made their own decisions on charges that Ponta was involved in an act of plagiarism: a first said he "copy-pasted" large amounts of text, while a second said he complied with the rules of 2003. The charges were first made public by Nature magazine last month and have since drawn huge media attention. The head of Romanian government has been quoted by Spanish El Pais newspaper as saying he would resign if a commission finds him guilty of plagiarism.UPDATE PM Ponta reacted to the Bucharest University commission's verdict on Friday by saying the decision was "politically motivated".
Opinion: Romania matters A very tough report of the European Commission on Romania's Justice system this week and the unexpected visit to Bucharest of the British Foreign minister were just as many cold showers for the people now in power in Bucharest. Their immediate effect was a decision by the Parliament to maintain a rule that 50%+1 of the registered voters have to cast their ballots in a referendum to dismiss suspended President Traian Basescu late this month. As a long term effect, the signals mean something else as well: Romania is no longer by itself in a world which invested in it both economically and geo-strategically.
European Commission lists requests for Victor Ponta Government to prove it complies with rule of law and independence of justice The European Commission has issued a list of its requests on Romania, which were addressed to Romanian PM Victor Ponta on Thursday and aimed at Romania's continued compliance with European standards. The list includes tough points such as the dismissal of incompatible MPs, the reinstatement of certain rules for the validation of a referendum to impeach the President and avoiding naming people at a key anti-corruption body during the interim presidency of Crin Antonescu.
Top EU officials including EP President, Justice Commissioner speak out on Romania as PM Ponta leaves for Brussels EU states are "a little too quiet" regarding the situation in Romania, European Parliament president Martin Schulz said in an interview for Le Monde, quoted by AFP. He made the statement following a controversial vote in the Romanian Parliament to suspend President Traian Basescu, which has raised questions about compliance with the country's constitution. For her part, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding was also quoted by AFP today saying the political crisis in Romania was a "great danger". The two spoke out on Romania as PM Victor Ponta, who's governing alliance has pushed for the suspension of the President, visits Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.
US Ambassador to Romania: A referendum inconsistent with the Constitution would "knowingly provoke a very dangerous constitutional crisis" ​US Ambassador to Romania Mark Gitenstein says in a statement issued on Wednesday that a referendum in Romania "which appears inconsistent with the Constitution" would "knowingly provoke a very dangerous constitutional crisis". He notes that Romania's PM "is absolutely correct" that it is "unacceptable" to conduct such a referendum. Ambassador Gitenstein made the statement as Romania braces for a referendum late this month in which voters will be asked if they agree to remove President Basescu from office and debates are taking place on the constitutional and judicial framework of the referendum. The governing alliance hopes it would remove from office rival President Basescu - who was suspended by the Parliament on Friday.
Romania anti-graft prosecutors eye two Supreme Council of Magistrates members suspected of negotiating top jobs with new political leaders Investigators of Romania's National Anti-Corruption Department (DNA) moved on the Supreme Council of Magistrates on Wednesday morning, targeting two prosecutors suspected of having negotiated with the country's prime minister the jobs of DNA chief prosecutor and Prosecutor General, according to judiciary sources quoted by Mediafax news agency. The DNA move comes the day when PM Victor Ponta leaves for Brussels where he is expected to explain his governing alliance's actions over the past two weeks to worried European officials.
Romania's Constitutional Court decides procedure to suspend President Basescu was constitutional. Crin Antonescu becomes interim president ​Romania's Constitutional Court announced late on Monday evening that the procedure to impeach President Traian Basescu last week was constitutional and that it found that an interim presidency in which Senate speaker Crin Antonescu takes over as head of state was justified. The Court analyzed five of seven cases in which decisions made during last week''s blitz procedures to impeach the president were challenged as "unconstitutional". The announcement came at the end of a day in which those procedures were subject of harsh criticism both at home and abroad.
Romanian MPs have voted: President Traian Basescu impeached A majority of Romanian MPs voted on Friday evening in favor of the impeachment of President Traian Basescu, at the end of a blitz series of procedures which the opponents of the governing alliance, many independent observers and EU voices described as breaching the rule of law and questioning the independence of Romanian justice and balance of power. Basescu now has to face a referendum in which - according to rules newly voted by the Parliament - a majority of active voters decides his dismissal of President.UPDATE A referendum where Romanian voters will be asked if they agree with the dismissal of President Traian Basescu will be organized on July 29, according to a proposed bill on the organization of the referendum, announced in the Parliament today.
Romania's Parliament convenes to suspend President. Traian Basescu: It is more important for governing alliance to take hold of all reigns of power including justice The Romanian Parliament convened on Friday afternoon to vote on a request to impeach President Traian Basescu. The votes of 217 members are needed to suspend the President, and the governing alliance of Social Democrats and Liberals (USL) hold by themselves 212 votes. The Constitutional Court issued an advisory ruling on the request earlier today, but gave no final ruling whether the arguments including in the impeachment request were valid. The vote comes as EU pressures intensify on USL, an alliance accused of threatening the rule of law. In his speech at the beginning of the Parliament session today, Basescu pointed out that, for USL, more important than his suspension the interest to take hold of all reigns of power, including justice.UPDATE 8.10 p.m. Parliamentary debates are over. Voting on President Basescu's impeachment has started UPDATE Senate speaker Crin Antonescu - a Liberal who is due to take over as interim President if Basescu is suspended, said he would witdraw from politics if Basescu is not dismissed in a referendum

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