The nine judges of Romania's Constitutional Court decided on Tuesday that the July 29 referendum to dismiss suspended President Traian Basescu was invalid. Six members of the Court decided to invalidate the poll and three against it. The vote means President Traian Basescu, who has been suspended by the Parliament, returns to the Presidency. The judges convened today to decide whether the referendum was valid or not.
The Constitutional Court session today came after weeks of political turmoil as the governing coalition led by Social Democratic PM Victor Ponta and interim President Crin Antonescu has been trying hard to find ways so that a Court decision force Basescu to leave. The struggle has drawn massive criticism and suspicions about rule of law in Romania.
Basescu is due to return to the Presidency once the Court verdict is published in the Official Gazette.
The Court was due to give a verdict on the validity of the referendum shortly after it took place in late July. In the poll, a vast majority of voters opted for President Traian Basescu - who had been impeached by the Parliament - to leave office. But turnout was not enough to reach a 50% plus one of the total number of listed voters, which technically would mean the attempt to dismiss Basescu failed.
Yet, the governing coalition and Basescu's camp started a game of numbers and legal provisions to show that the real number of active voters exceeded - or did not exceed - the necessary threshold to have Basescu go.
Political pressures intensified on the Constitutional Court as well and it found it necessary to call for supplementary information before a final verdict is given.
At its previous session, the Court decided to convene again on August 31 but later opted to set the new session for August 21.
The attitude of key players in the political crisis was harshly criticized in Brussels and abroad, with warnings of Romania's democracy being jeopardized by the struggle to bring down Basescu. And the business and financial players have been warning that the impact on the economy is huge. The latest central bank bulletin, published on Tuesday, argues that the financial troubles continue and investment is narrowing. Central bank governor Mugur Isarescu warned over the past weeks that the political crisis was not helping the economy at all.