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Traian Basescu, Romania's president, faces impeachment vote

Romanians were at the polls today to vote on whether to impeach Traian Basescu.

Basescu 2012 07 29Enlarge
Romanian President Traian Basescu speaks to supporters during an election rally in Bucharest on July 26, 2012. (DANIEL MIHAILESCU /AFP/Getty Images)

Romanians were at the polls today to vote on whether to impeach Romania’s president, Traian Basescu, Reuters reported.

The referendum was organized by Prime Minister’s Victor Ponta’s leftist Social Liberal Union (USL) government, which assumed power in May, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. It’s Romania’s third government this year.

Ponta suspended Basescu, who he accuses of overstepping his powers, Reuters reported. Basescu supports austerity measures for the Balkan nation.

If voters say Basescu should be impeached, the government gets to organize early presidential elections, which it must do within three months, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

According to Reuters:

The methods Ponta has used in his efforts to unseat Basescu have brought a stern dressing-down from the European Union, which accused him of undermining the rule of law and intimidating judges.

While the majority of voters have told polltakers they support impeaching Basescu, Ponta’s referendum may backfire, Reuters reported.

As of 5 p.m. (1400 GMT) turnout was only 26.9 percent, well below the 50 percent turnout required for the vote to be valid. Polls close at 11 p.m. If not enough citizens vote, Romania’s constitution returns Basescu to office, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.

"I am not a fan of Basescu but I will not vote because I do not approve of the way the government stepped on laws to have their way," Dan Popescu, a 52-year-old Bucharest pensioner, told Reuters.

An invalid vote “would be the worst outcome and trigger a selloff in the currency in the coming weeks as we may see the government undertake more constitutional gymnastics in order to remove the president,” Peter Attard Montalto, an economist at Nomura International Plc in London, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/120729/traian-basescu-romanias-president-impeachment-vote