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May 17, 2022

All eyes on referendum

The war of words between interim president Crin Antonescu and premier Victor Ponta on one side and suspended president Traian Basescu on the other has continued in recent days. In a guest appearance on Antena 3, Antonescu continued the series of attacks against Traian Basescu, attacks that started after his suspension, stating that “Nicolae Ceausescu was and remains” a political example for Basescu, the latter inheriting from him “pharaoh-like behaviour” and “real-estate craze” which is in fact the expression of “obsession with power.” “Traian Basescu has neither the culture nor the taste of having another example,” the interim president stated, being quoted by Antena 3. According to Antonescu, the suspended president’s “big disgrace” is that “while he was preaching austerity, while he was lecturing those that were crawling at the limit of survival, being accused of not being strong enough to survive, that they were not starting a business, that they were not engaged in big businesses, while SMEs were closing down, Basescu was the most expensive state parasite in Romania.” Referring to his retirement from politics if Traian Basescu returns to office after the July 29 referendum, Antonescu stated that he is “no longer tied to any commitment and to any bet,” pointing out that the suspended president’s calls to boycott the referendum “turns on its head any condition of electoral competition.” Nevertheless, the interim president stated yesterday on Realitatea TV that he did not change his mind, pointing out that the commitment he took in Parliament on the day Basescu was suspended remains in force.Also on Wednesday evening, Premier Victor Ponta stated that he will remain at the helm of the government even if Basescu returns to office after the referendum in case the result is invalidated because of low voter turnout. Traian Basescu stated that he regrets not appointing Mihai Razvan Ungureanu Prime Minister earlier, stating that this solution had been previously discussed with PDL. Asked whether he would support Ungureanu in the presidential race in 2014, Basescu answered affirmatively. The suspended president claims that he will not pardon Adrian Nastase in case he returns to office and receives a request in this sense. “Nastase was sentenced to two years, a lot in my opinion, but that’s what the court decided. (…) I believe this case is an extraordinary lesson for the Romanian state apparatus,” Basescu stated, pointing out that the cases in which the former premier is investigated started off from people in his own party (PSD – editor’s note), not from him. In what concerns the referendum, Basescu stated the day before, on Radio Romania, that his call is for voters not to take part in it, asking them at the same time to understand that as Romania’s elected president he “cannot refuse to take part in a fundamental state institution like the referendum.”

Rallies for and against Basescu

Meanwhile, rallies against Basescu continued in the country’s main cities. Thus, over 100 persons took part in a rally that USL Cluj organized yesterday in Cluj-Napoca. “Armed” with banners reading “Cluj votes YES” and “YES, Basescu deserves to go,” the protesters chanted “Down with Basescu,” “Don’t be afraid, Basescu will fall,” and “We have one last wish, to get rid of the dictator.” The day before, thousands of people took part in rallies in favour of the president impeachment, in Arges and Teleorman counties. Another meeting supporting Basescu was scheduled last evening in Revolution Square, in Bucharest. According to Realitatea.net, Dem Libs were due to bring the “Democracy Torch”. On the other hand, 2,000 revolutionists were expected to gather at Victory Square for a protest against Basescu. A campaigner said that they will also go to protest at Revolution Square in order to outnumber Basescu’s supporters. “We’ll take up the pavement and we’ll shout <<Back off, Basescu>>, <<Get out you scumbag!>>”, revolutionist Nelu Florea, said.On the other hand, Democrat-Liberals Theodor Paleologu, Cristian Preda and Christian Democrat Foundation Vice President Adrian Papahagi, organized on Wednesday evening, in front of the Antipa Museum, a tombola whose prizes consisted of Ph.D. and Master’s diplomas, an allusion to the plagiarism accusations against PM Victor Ponta. Theodor Paleologu pointed out that the purpose of the tombola was to make fun of “electoral bribery” and also to point out that politicians buy their academic titles “as if they were in the marketplace.”

“Torch of democracy” criticized by COSR

The Romanian Olympic and Sports Committee (COSR) announced yesterday in a press communiqué that it regretfully took note of the use of Olympic symbols in the referendum campaign and “firmly” asked the immediate cessation of their use for political purposes. COSR’s reaction comes after Traian Basescu lit a torch on July 14, at the end of the PDL rally in Cluj, calling it the “torch of democracy” and stating that he hopes it will burn until July 29 and that it will be carried by right-wing youngsters throughout the country.

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