Some 78.1 percent of Romanian voters on Saturday answered "No" to the question whether they agree with suspended President Traian Basescu being removed from office in a referendum on Saturday, exit polls show. 21.9 percent of the voters said "Yes", meaning they wanted the President removed from office.

The figure was provided by an exit poll run by Romanian study groups CURS and CCSB. Another poll, run by Insomar and Metromedia Transilvania, puts the figure at 75% in favor of Basescu.

In the 2004 presidential elections, Traian Basescu received 51% of a total of 10.2 million votes cast, meaning some 5.1 million votes. According to data presented by the Insomar group on Saturday evening, Basescu received 6.2 million votes in today’s referendum, 1.1 million more than two and a half years ago.

"I publicly call the Parliament to come and cooperate to give credit to the public vote of Romanians today", Traian Basescu said shortly after the estimated results were announced. He said he was certain that more than 50% of the total number of voters would have voted when all polling stations close this evening.

For his part, Mircea Geoana, the leader of the main opposition party, the Social Democrats, said in an exit poll statement that "the suspension of Traian Basescu by a large parliamentary majority is not annulled by today's referendum results... It is a victory without glory [for Basescu].

As far as law goes, Traian Basescu returns to Cotroceni [the Presidential Palace], but his legitimacy was affected..."

For his part, PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, whose National Liberal Party (PNL) voted in favor of Basescu's suspension, said that "we didn't want to vote in favor of the suspension, but we acted in the interest of Romania. Vote attendance, I believe, has a strong significance: Romanians are concerned with completely different things than Basescu.

Traian Basescu was suspended and the country was not affected but in the area of electoral disputes, which led to a loss of money and time".

But there is a very low turnout of less than 50%, according to preliminary suggestions, at polling stations across the country as disputes are are appearing about the validity of the referendum.

Basescu was suspended with a large majority of parliamentary votes on April 19, on grounds that he breached the Constitution. The Constitutional Court had previously said the head of state had not done so. The event automatically triggered the organization of today's referendum.