The Government adopted on Monday an ordinance postponing the organization of European elections in Romania until the second half of 2007. Liberal prime minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu took responsibility for the decision as key ministers said they opposed the measure.

The Democratic Party-PD, which along the Liberals (PNL) form the governing coalition in Bucharest, warned the move would spark a real political crisis after months of political clashes between the two groups.

Romanian legislation allows the prime minister to take responsibility for pushing through legislation that is not accepted by consensus within the government. Democrats had warned earlier today that they would oppose the postponement of EP elections, which according to PM Tariceanu was necessary because the political troubles affecting Romania these days would mar the poll.

President Basescu visited the Government before the decision was made, but Government sources said his talks with members of the government were not part of the proper governmental session scheduled for today.

The ordinance says elections to name Romania’s representatives in the European Parliament would take place in the second half of the year.

Later today, a PD leader said party officials including key ministers representing the political group would not sign the norm on the postponement of the poll. Emil Boc said Tariceanu made “an unilateral decision” serving the interests of the opposition Social Democrats.

The bill must be counter-signed by a representative of the Interior Minister - who is a Democrat - and approved by the Justice Ministry - also led by a representative of the Democratic Party.