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.
- On Friday, the governing alliance of Social Democrats and Liberals (USL), which has a majority in the Parliament, voted for the impeachment of President Basescu. Once validated by the Constitutional Court, the vote means President Basescu is suspended, Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu - a Liberal leader named in this office last week - takes over as interim president and a referendum takes hold late this month in which the Romanian people is invited to vote to remove Basescu from office.
- The suspension was possible after a unprecedentedly quick series of moves in which USL changed the speakers of the House and of the Senate and the Ombudsman as well as regulations that allow the Constitutional Court to keep check on parliamentary decisions with constitutional relevance.
On Monday evening, the Court rejected a complaint from Traian Basescu regarding a judicial conflict between him and the Parliament, as well as complaints submitted by the former speakers of the House and the Senate - who belonged to the Democratic Liberals, supporters of Basescu - against their replacement.
Meanwhile, the Court decided that parliamentary decisions cannot be exempted from rulings of constitutionality.
USL leader Victor Ponta said in a press conference later in the evening that the Court decisions proved there was nothing wrong with the procedures last week and it was time to end the accusations of coups d'etat and unconstitutionality which were brought against USL. He said the accusations, including those at European level, were fueled by "lies" of the Democratic Liberals (PDL) of Traian Basescu. And he said he believed Romania's European partners have now found how "low" was PDL's strategy.
Ponta's government has previously issued a statement saying that the rule of law in Romania was not affected by domestic political disputes and that it was all a denigration campaign run by PDL and Traian Basescu.
The statement was issued after German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her government's spokesman described the situation in Romania and the manner in which Basescu was suspended in very harsh words, questioning the compliance with the rule of law. Another harsh statement today came from the leader of the SPD group in the Bundestag, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Internally, the Council of Foreign Investors in Romania also issued a statement voicing concern about recent evolutions on the political stage, which it says may affect stability and economic growth as well as the image of the country on international markets.
Another European official - Sir Graham Watson, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the EP - accused the European Popular Party - which has had the most critical positions regarding the USL moves in Romania since last week - of hypocrisy on the Romanian issue and said that Traian Basescu had politicized the Constitutional Court.