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February 1, 2023

Traian Basescu returns to office after referendum invalidated

PM announced Government respects the Constitutional Court ruling despite the fact he deems it illegal and anti-democratic and announces a wide constitutional reform as to prevent the concentration of the power by one person alone. Basescu didn’t have any immediate reaction at the ruling.

Constitutional Court (CC) ruled only after two hours of debates to invalidate the referendum. Chairman Augustin Zegrean stated that the Court noted that the referendum is valid from the point of view of the way in which it was organized but the voter turnout threshold was not reached. He pointed out that given this fact, suspended president Traian Basescu will return to office. At the same time, CC Judge Tudorel Toader stated that the decision was taken “with the legal majority needed.” According to official sources, the decision was taken by 6 votes against 3. According to gandul.info, Judge Aspazia Cojocaru was the one who tipped the scales in favor of Traian Basescu.
Constitutional judges
trade accusations
According to the aforementioned source, the following judges voted to validate the referendum: Ion Predescu, Acsinte Gaspar, Tudorel Toader (all in the USL camp). The following judges voted to invalidate the referendum: Augustin Zegrean (chairman), Petre Lazaroiu, Mircea Stefan Minea, Iulia Antoanella Motoc (from the PDL-Basescu camp), Puskas Valentin Zoltan (appointed by UDMR) and Aspazia Cojocaru (appointed by PSD). “This is the outcome. She, the one from PSD, was the decisive factor. We fought as much as we could. However this is the outcome. Take the data from the government and analyze it to see how crystal-clear it was,” Judge Ion Predescu stated.

In her turn, judge Aspazia Cojocaru attacks her colleague Ion Predescu. “What does tipping the scales mean? This is completely non-legal. If an electoral threshold was set and it was not reached, what should we have done now? Infringe the law? I cannot do this. Ask all my students. If you find just one to tell you something different, please let me know.What is the problem if the threshold has not been reached? I don’t want to go to jail, I cannot infringe the law! What does this mean <<We fought the best we could>>? Tell Mr. Predescu to fight alone, from now on. I do not infringe the law!” Aspazia Cojocaru said, quoted by Evenimentul Zilei.
The day before the judges met in order to take a decision on whether to validate or invalidate the impeachment referendum, CC Chairman Augustin Zegrean stated that the Court will take into consideration the government’s answer concerning the permanent lists of registered voters, pointing out nevertheless that when it comes to including Romanians living abroad in the quorum used in the referendum “all laws leave room for interpretation.” “This is the great thing about law; all laws leave room for interpretation,” Zegrean stated. When told that Romanian citizens living abroad have always voted on supplementary, not permanent lists in previous elections, the Court’s Chairman replied: “And what can I do if they did?”
Ponta: Cabinet will defend citizens from Basescu
Premier Victor Ponta announced that he will propose first the Government, then the Parliament a “large-scale constitutional reform,” which will guarantee that “the tragedy caused to the Romanian people by the Basescu regime” will not repeat. “learning from this experience which demonstrated that democratic rules do not operate and the will of the people, expressed by vote, can be defeated by one man, I would like to announce that I decided to propose to the Government, then the Parliament, a large-scale constitutional reform which will make sure that, in the future, post-1989 Romania cannot be arbitrarily controlled by one single person that builds itself a repressive regime which fights for him against the clearly expressed will of the people. We must clarify the attributions of the president, Government, Parliament, a system of control between powers in the state, and find all methods which will prevent that the tragedy produced to the Romanian people by the Basescu regime repeats in the future,” Ponta said.
He added that the decision of the Constitutional Court will be respected and implemented, but it is “unjust and against the democratic rules and the absolute majority of Romanians.” According to the premier, as of July 29, Traian Basescu is “an illegitimate president, a president of the CC” and the government will continue to be “a government of Romanian citizens, and not a government of backstage plots,” which will defend citizens from the “Basescu regime.”
Ponta mentioned that the USL government has “no debt to Traian Basescu,” as its only debt is towards Romanians and the Parliament, so he will not allow Basescu to be, as he was until May 7, “president, premier and chief of prosecutors and judges.”
Referring to the CC decision, Ponta said that what the Constitutional Court really wanted was to convince judge Aspazia Cojocaru to vote in favour of keeping Traian Basescu as president, and judges did not take into consideration the data provided by the government.
Regarding the critics made by Antonescu and Ponta against her CC judge Aspazia Cojocaru said she won’t allow to any ‘kid’ who didn’t pass correctly any exam in his life to criticize her.
Antonescu deems ruling is unjust, not retiring from politics
After a closed-door meeting organized by the National Liberal Party (PNL) immediately after the CC announced its decision, interim president Crin Antonescu stated in a press conference that the CC’s decision will be respected although it is unjust: “The decision is unjust because it ignores the votes of eight million and a half Romanians. It’s also unjust because it ignores the laws the Court itself invokes. Although we respect the CC decision and although Traian Basescu will return to being Romania’s President, for us he is no longer Romania’s President because we don’t recognize him.”
Crin Antonescu voiced his disappointment and frustration at the ruling and told the 7.5 million Romanians that voted to dismiss Traian Basescu that they should defend their rights. “Romanian citizens choose the way they defend their rights by civil means,” Antonescu said. He added that his statement about the small chances of validating the referendum relied on corroborating data and legal texts, decisions of the Constitutional Court, and on numbers. He had in mind the idea of a “reasonable and correct” decision made by the CC judges, regardless of who appointed them to this dignity. “Obviously, with this regard, I was surprised by the Court’s decision; I am disappointed, I am frustrated like so many people of this country,” he stated. Antonescu mentioned that the only way to go from now on, apart from expressing the discontentment over this decision, is “observing the rules.” He added that he does not accept the idea of the economy being affected by the suspension of Traian Basescu, nor is he interested by the comments of BNR governor Mugur Isarescu about the devaluation of the RON being determined by the political crisis. Speaking about the statements of PDL EuroDeputy Monica Macovei, who made public a list of those who should be arrested for initiating the suspension of Traian Basescu, Antonescu said that he is waiting for her to come and arrest him.
Antonescu added that he is “fully sympathetic” with Premier Victor Ponta and the USL Government, stating that the preservation of the Social Liberal Union should not be questioned and the efforts “to remove the Traian Basescu regime” should be joined together. In the end Crin Antonescu stated that he will not retire from politics because “in essence Traian Basescu was impeached,” adding that Basescu should resign. Asked whether a new suspension could be taken into account if Basescu fails to respect the Constitution, Antonescu answered: “Definitely.”
Blaga: PDL expresses willingness to cooperate with all political forces
After the referendum was invalidated, PDL President Vasile Blaga announced that PDL is willing to cooperate with all political forces in order to support the national interest, pointing out that it is high time for the political conflict to end and for the political forces to cooperate. “We ask USL to renounce the governing methods that did so much harm to the Romanian state and that subjected Romanians to a difficult test,” Blaga stated during a press conference. He added that it is time for the political forces to cooperate and “to declare their unconditional respect for all of the country’s laws.”
The PDL President also stated that at this moment “the political class’s efforts should be mainly channeled towards economic recovery and solving the Romanian citizens’ problems.” “It’s time for the political conflict to stop and for us to return to the logic of normalcy,” Blaga added. Referring to the statements made by Antonescu, Blaga stated that he is able to understand that PNL Senator Crin Antonescu is very upset but pointed out that this does not give him the right to instigate street protests. He added that Romanians are a peaceful people accustomed to respecting the law, but there are also dissatisfied persons, including some that have “cooperation protocols with USL.”
The PDL President added that the Parliament’s plenum meeting in which the CC decision on the referendum will be read will probably take place tomorrow. He added that nothing can be done in Parliament to change the Court’s decision. “The law is clear. Parliament takes note of the Constitutional Court’s decision,” the PDL President stated.
The suspended president Traian Basescu didn’t make any statement nor did he announce he will have made any statement yesterday.
Hundreds of persons protest against Basescu’s return
The day set to put an end to the political turmoil, was marked by a protest rally outside the Court’s building. Approximately two hundred persons protested asking the CC to take into account the votes that Romanians cast in the July 29 referendum and to validate it. The protesters carried banners reading “Come out into the street if you care,” “Basescu leave the Constitutional Court building,” “Come outside you twerp,” “You voted, you’re under investigation.” The protesters also shouted “validate” and waved flags. The protesters stated that if the referendum is invalidated and Traian Basescu returns to office all 7,5 million Romanians that voted for his impeachment will surround the Presidential Palace. After finding out that the referendum was invalidated, people expressed their discontent and accused Basescu of rigging the ballot. After the Court announced its decision gendarmes were dispatched to the suspend president’s campaign headquarters. The gendarmes carried away a protester that had a banner which read “Voted YES at the referendum.” The two hundred protesters then moved their protest to the University Square. “We won’t leave the University Square unless Traian Basescu resigns as the people decided at the referendum,” one of the protesters stated.

European officials say ruling has to be respected

The Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) stated that USL has to respect the CC decision. At the same time, a European Commission spokes­person stated that the political line that the European Commission maintained since the start of the current political situation in Romania was to ask Court decisions to be respected whatever those decisions are. “If the news about this decision is confirmed I would like to remind what President Barroso stated in his latest letter addressed to Premier Victor Ponta 11 days ago, asking the government and all political forces to respect the Constitutional Court’s decisions, irrespective of what those decisions are and we expect to see that in all EU states, in virtue of respect for the rule of law. So this is the political line we have maintained ever since the start of this political situation in Romania and we expect this to be the line we maintain in the future too,” European Commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly stated in a press briefing in Brussels.
Hannes Swoboda, the leader of the Group of Socialists and Democrats, wrote on Twitter that the CC decision not to validate the July 29 referendum should be accepted.
The US Embassy in Bucharest stated that the CC decision “speaks for itself,” Mediafax informs.


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