Scandals, resignations and once improbable negotiations are all over the place among political parties in Romania following the May 19 referendum that had President Traian Basescu return to power after a month of suspension. While not officially re-confirmed in office yet, Basescu’s facing a huge wave of media criticism about racist insults he threw at a journalist during the referendum.

Many Romanians are missing the ‘old’, communist times, while Princess Margarita recalls her love story with Britain’s future PM Gordon Brown. All in Romanian newspapers today.

Political parties opposing president Basescu in the May 19 referendum are struggling with internal dissent as they wait for formal Basescu’s return to office.

The main opposition party, the Social Democrats (PSD), held a lengthy meeting on Monday as an influential faction of the group, the so-called “faction of Cluj”, pressed for two top leaders - honorary president Ion Iliescu and Viorel Hrebenciuc - to resign from their party positions, Romania libera reports.

The coup attempt failed, the paper writes, noting however that several second-tier party officials did indeed resign from their posts within the PSD.

Gandul publishes a series of succulent statements by PSD leaders at their meeting yesterday, where Ion Iliescu, seen as one of the masterminds of the attempt to remove Basescu from office through a referendum, defended himself saying that “resignations today whould be the biggest mistake”.

PSD President Mircea Geoana is also quoted as saying that the party failure in the referendum may mean that “we probably couldn’t offer an alternative” to Basescu.

Evenimentul Zilei depicts the PSD crisis talks yesterday by focusing on influential party leader Hrebenciuc’s defense against calls for his resignation given his key role in pushing for the referendum. He even compared his potential dismissal with a “ritual sacrifice” that his opponents within the party are claiming.

And Cotidianul goes beyond quarrels and notes that at the end of the day party president Geoana came out of the meating with statements of availability for potential negotiations with both the governing Liberals (PNL) - who joined the PSD in campaigning against Basescu in the referendum - and Basescu’s own Democrats (PD).

Meanwhile, Basescu is not in a good position either as his victory in the referendum is shadowed by accusations of racism from both the media and a series of NGOs. These came as he insulted a journalist in racist words during the day of the referendum, calling her a “stinky Gypsy”. He published a press release regretting the event yesterday.

But it comes too late and it does too little, given the seriousness of the incident, newspapers write.

Cotidianul reports that Rroma (Gypsy) NGOs protested before the presidential palace yesterday, reminding the head of state that in this quality he has the constitutional obligation of combating any kind of discrimination.

Gandul notes that Basescu’s apology did not come directly to the insulted journalist directly, but through a press release, despite having an opportunity to apologize personally.

The paper also notes that he spoke of the accident on TV yesterday, where while accepting guilt he countered the pressure by saying that “I don’t like it when one steps into the intimacy of my life.

For example, by profiting from a discussion that one has with his wife in one’s own car and than, like in the times of the Securitate, to have one judged for what he didn’t think publicly”.

Even Evenimentul Zilei, a newspaper generally known for its support of the President, says that “Basescu’s decency was suspended” - referring to his month-long suspension from office on charges that the breached the Constitution.

The newspaper describes the incident as Basescu’s “short way from a winning president to a presidential churl”.

Elsewhere in the papers today:

  • Gandul quotes an EBRD study according to which 17 years after the anti-communist revolution 16% of Romanians would agree with an authoritarian political system and a planned economy - including over 30% of youth aged 18-34.
  • Romania Libera reports that representatives of the European Popular Party have started pressing for early elections in Romania following the May 19 referendum. It quotes EPP sources according to whom the German MEPs are most worried about Romania’s regression on the path of reform.
  • Evenimentul Zilei and other papers quote British newspaper the Telegraph with an interview it published yesterday, with Romania’s Princess Margarita who lived a “beautiful” love story with Labor leader Gordon Brown.

    According to the newspaper, the relationship lasted for five years and many thought at the time they would marry. Brown regretted breaking up with Margarita, daughter of Romania’s then-exiled King Michael, for a long time, according to the Telegraph.