Although the opposition’s initiative has no chances of success, PSD and PNL stake on the fact that people will put pressure on ruling coalition MPs.
The leaders of the Social-Liberal Union (USL) announced yesterday that they will begin the impeachment procedures against President Traian Basescu. PNL leader Crin Antonescu pointed out that this initiative “is not a whim, is not something made up for the agenda.”
“Our very firm conviction is that a process of serious erosion of the rule of law took place in Romania, outside the Constitution, a process of substituting the rule of law institutions; basically the political will and action were unconstitutionally concentrated in the hands of one man. We are trying to avoid another year of serious erosion of the rule of law. Talks on chances of success are taking place and they have their role and purpose, it’s just that in politics, from my point of view, one can’t do only what is immediately guaranteed by a number of votes. Our conviction is that by doing this we meet the approval and enjoy the backing of a majority of Romanian citizens. This interests us more than the conjectural majority within the Romanian Parliament,” Antonescu said, being quoted by Mediafax.
“If they (PDL – editor’s note) fear the plenum’s vote, and I believe they do, then that means we have to do everything to go to the plenum with this because victory is assured when it comes to the people’s vote,” PSD leader Victor Ponta stated. Eugen Nicolaescu, the deputy leader of the group of Liberal MPs within the Lower Chamber, admitted that the Opposition lacks the number of votes needed to impeach President Traian Basescu, but added that he hopes people would “put pressure” on the ruling coalition MPs. Asked what the President is accused of, given that the impeachment procedure concerns serious breaches of the Constitution, Nicolaescu answered: “Everything since 2009.
The fact that he talks about court decisions, the fact that he takes part in party meetings.” On the other hand, Puiu Hasotti, leader of Liberal Senators, was more cautious in what concerns the rapidity of the initiative, being of the opinion that talks on impeaching the President should take place after the 2012 elections.
In his turn, Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana said that if the impeachment is successful will be a good thing, but if it goes wrong it will be like a boomerang for the Opposition. In his opinion, a favourable moment for the President’s impeachment was in October last year when Traian Basescu announced salaries and pensions’ cuts, but the Opposition threw that chance away.
USL’s initiative was also backed by Hannes Swoboda, Vice President of the S&D Group within the European Parliament, who stated that he understands the Opposition’s reasons and especially the disappointment towards the current President, particularly in the context of social policy problems.
PSD’s and PNL’s central leaderships will appoint the members of a USL commission that will draft the impeachment request. According to the PNL President, this joint commission will probably finalize the document in a week’s time. Antonescu (Photo R) also added that talks will take place within the joint Parliamentary groups after that and if the groups accept the proposal the latter will follow the procedural steps stipulated in the Constitution. Crin Antonescu added that USL plans to initiate a large public debate on this political move and to try to outline a wide public movement centred on it. According to USL sources, quoted by Mediafax the commission is made up of 8 members, among which ex-PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu and Social-Democrat Dan Sova.
PDL and ruling coalition partners rally around president
PM Emil Boc said USL’s decision is an “irresponsible step” and has no chances to be put into practice. PDL spokesperson Sever Voinescu labeled the Opposition’s intention “a game of fireworks coming from immature children” trying to cover up “the Mircea Geoana story with what they believe would be an even bigger political row.”
FM Teodor Baconschi said the impeachment step is useless but it will be alarming for the Romanian’s image abroad.
Internal Affairs Minister Traian Igas stated that USL’s proposal is “an aberration” whose goal is in fact distracting public opinion from PSD’s internal tensions. “I believe things won’t stop here, in a short while we will see other forces that will leave PSD,” Igas stated.
The Democrat-Liberals that were excluded from the party do not back USL’s initiative either. MP Daniel Oajdea, recently excluded from PDL, stated that not even the members of USL believe in their impeachment proposal. “They got upset for no reason,” Oajdea said, being quoted by realitatea.net.
UDMR is backing PDL too. “At this moment we’re in a coalition with PDL, with President Traian Basescu’s party. I believe our answer is clear,” Deputy Prime Minister Marko Bela, UDMR’s Honourary President, stated.
235 votes needed
Hence, despite the optimism shown by USL leaders, the actual chances of seeing the impeachment procedures going through Parliament are minimal, the ruling coalition having a majority of seats both within the Lower Chamber and within the Senate. The Opposition needs at least 235 votes in order to have its impeachment approved. If adopted in Parliament by a majority of MPs (through secret vote), the impeachment proposal would undergo a referendum.
This is the second time the Opposition initiates impeachment procedures against President Traian Basescu. The previous impeachment attempt took place in 2007, during the President’s first term in office. Back then, Parliament approved the impeachment proposal but the people voted against it at the referendum.