Politeía Digest

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The Washington Post: About a Political Disaster – 3 in 1

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Romania’s repressive moves

By Editorial Board, Saturday, July 14, 2:24 AM

COVERAGE OF THE crisis in Europe has tended to focus on economic questions, such as whether Greece or other governments will default on their debts or whether the euro currency will survive. The growing political damage to institutions, and to democracy itself, is sometimes overlooked. But in several countries there has been an alarming erosion of political comity and constitutional checks and balances, driven by populists who exploit the public’s dissatisfaction with economic hardship.

The latest example is Romania, where a new left-wing prime minister has been pressing to remove checks on his government while trying to force the country’s president from office. Victor Ponta, who took power last May without an election after two successive right-of-center coalitions collapsed, has alarmed other European Union governments as well as the Obama administration by quickly seeking to consolidate power.

In a matter of weeks the parliamentary majority controlled by the new prime minister has replaced the leaders of the two chambers — one of whom is now in line to succeed the president — as well as an ombudsman who had sole authority to appeal the government’s decrees. The Parliament also sought to strip the Constitutional Court of authority to review its decisions, and Mr. Ponta spoke of replacing court members who ruled against him.

The Parliament then impeached President Traian Basescu, a right-of-center rival of Mr. Ponta. The vote mandated a July 29 referendum on whether Mr. Basescu will remain in office. But a government emergency decree and parliamentary legislation changed the rules for the vote so that impeachment could be ratified by a majority of those voting, rather than a majority of all registered voters. Read more in The Washington Post

EU pressures Romania government as political turmoil raises concerns about country’s democracy.

By Associated Press, Published: July 12

BRUSSELS — In a tough and terse statement, a top European Union official pressured Romania’s prime minister Thursday to address concerns about political wrangling that has led to the impeachment of the country’s president and raised fears that its judiciary is being undermined. How Romania responds could affect its goal of attaining greater privileges within the regional bloc, including access to its passport-free zone.

Last week, the Romanian parliament, which is dominated by supporters of Prime Minister Victor Ponta, voted to impeach President Traian Basescu, accusing him of meddling in affairs beyond his authority. That set the stage for a July 29 national referendum on whether Basescu should be removed from office. Ponta and his supporters have also taken other recent steps that seem aimed at consolidating control and sidelining the judiciary.

European Council President Herman Van Rompuy met with Ponta in Brussels on Thursday after summoning him to explain the political turmoil. After the meeting, Van Rompuy issued a statement in which he again expressed “deep concerns” about the developments in Romania, a nation of 19 million that emerged from communism in 1989 and joined the EU in 2007.

“President Van Rompuy underlined he follows the events closely,” the statement said, adding that the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are fundamental principles on which the union is based and which are natural for all governments to respect.

“President Van Rompuy encouraged Prime Minister Ponta to engage in a constructive dialogue with the European Commission and to address the issues identified by the Commission as problematic.” Read more in The Washington Post

Romania court: Majority of voters must show up if ballot on ousting president is to be valid.

By Associated Press, Published: July 10

BUCHAREST, Romania — Romania’s Constitutional Court said Tuesday that a majority of the electorate must turn out to vote in order for a referendum on ousting the president to be valid, a ruling that may make it harder for President Traian Basescu’s opponents to push him out.

The court’s decision is the latest development in a growing power struggle in Romania between factions loyal to Basescu and those supporting his rival, Prime Minister Victor Ponta. The wrangling has led to international concern about the fate of democracy in the eastern European nation, which emerged from communism in 1989.

Last Friday, parliament, which is dominated by Ponta backers, voted to impeach Basescu, accusing him of meddling in affairs that are the province of the prime minister, trying to influence judicial affairs and making bigoted remarks about Gypsies and disabled people. Basescu has denied any wrongdoing, saying that he may be outspoken but that he has not committed “grave violations” of the constitution.

On Monday, the Constitutional Court upheld the decision to impeach, setting the stage for a July 29 national referendum on whether Basescu should be removed from office. But Tuesday’s court ruling provides some relief for Basescu’s camp, because getting a 50 percent turnout of the electorate is by no means a certainty in Romania. Read more in The Washington Post


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  1. […] Statelor Unite de la Bucuresti (prima , a doua si a treia)  si un editorial cvasi-asumat pe Washington Post. Conform celor publicate in presa, ambasatorul Gitenstein s-a intalnit cu fostul ministru de […]

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