Plans for a referendum to dismiss President Traian Basescu and political strategies for the weeks to come, when opposition Social Democrat Nicolae Vacaroiu serves as interim head of state, take the lion’s share in Romanian newspapers again on Tuesday. But the newspapers cool down a little and find room for various first page features for the first time in many days.
Curierul National reports that the Parliament is due to approve in a joint session today the date of May 19 suggested by the permanent boards of its two chambers for the national referendum on the suspension of President Traian Basescu.
The date falls on a Saturday, which creates an atypical situation as Romanians are used with voting on Sunday, the paper writes.
Romania libera reports that with so little time to move, Basescu’s supporters and opponents are already preparing strategies for the referendum campaign. Basescu’s main backers, the Democratic Party (PD), have announced they’ll use all the party resources and infrastructure in this purpose.
The main opposition party, the Social Democrats (PSD), are trying to find solutions for encouraging absenteeism - and so does the far-right Greater Romania Party (PRM).
The PSD is also preparing “a blow a day” strategy that would see the adoption a series of legislative drafts on national security, which would annul the current prerogatives of the president, name a new head at foreign intelligence service and so on, according to the paper.
And Liberal leader Calin Popescu Tariceanu has suggested he was tending to let Liberal voters to vote according to their own conscience, while other Liberal officials are pushing for a No to Basescu vote.
According to Cotidianul, the PSD’s main hurdle in trying to remove Basescu is a law on the organization of referendums in Romania, which makes it very hard to oust a head of state.
But changes to the law that would water down the rules of the referendum, pushed by the PSD as early as in 2005, might be applied this time if approved by the Constitutional Court, the paper writes.
Meanwhile, Evenimentul Zilei and other newspapers quoted German newspaper Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which blasts the “putsch of the corrupt” in the Romanian Parliament against President Basescu.
The paper quotes FAZ as writing that in the modern history of Europe the suspension of a head of state because of his merits and not his mistakes is unprecedented.
Meanwhile, Cotidianul reports that the most important presidential aides that accompany interim President Nicolae Vacaroiu for his 30-day rule of the country are “communist dinosaurs” who served in the communist apparatus before the 1989 revolution.
Among them - Alexandru Stanescu, a former deputy minister in the communist government and Ghiorghi Prisacaru, former head of staff for the last prime minister of communist Romania, Constantin Dascalescu.
The same Cotidianul also writes that the Vacaroiu’s PSD party is aiming to change the status quo in Romania in these several weeks leading to the referendum by adopting a contested set of national security laws, by naming new heads at the helm of the intelligence services and by cutting the number of intelligence structures.
Gandul quotes currency dealers who say they’re shocked by predictions Vacaroiu made in an interview with Reuters last weekend, when he said there was an “enormous” risk of the Romanian leu (RON) falling fast against the euro.
According to the dealers, such “blunders” come against the laws of the economy and are far from proper for a head of state. “Vacaroiu cannot forget the times when he served at the helm of the planned state economy”, Gandul writes.
Romania libera quotes Ioan Talpes, a former head of the Romanian Intelligence Service under President Basescu, who launched a fierce attack against Dinu Patriciu, the head of the Rompetrol oil group and friend to PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu.
Talpesc accuses Dinu Patriciu of links to Mihai Caraman, a former Securitate officer and first head of the post-communist Romanian Intelligence Service, known for penetrating the NATO headquarters for KGB in 1969. Dinu Patriciu retorts by saying that Talpes was a madman and a follower of conspiracy theories.
Elsewhere in the papers today:
• Cotidianul writes that world-renowned Romanian scholar Constantin Balaceanu Stolnici collaborated with the Securitate, the dreaded political police of the communist era, as head of section at an geriatrics institute ran by Ana Aslan. He is said to have signed informative notes under the nickname of “Laurentiu”.
• Gandul writes that the new Defense minister, Teodor Melescanu, believes the number of Romanian troops abroad should be halved as there are about 1700 Romanian soldiers in missions across the world and that “far exceeds our financial and human capacity”.