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Romania parliament accepts court decision returning suspended president to office

The Parliament of Romania on Monday recognized the return to office of suspended President Traian Basescu after accepting a recent Constitutional Court [official websites, in Romanian] decision [text, PDF] that invalidated [JURIST report] a national referendum to remove the leader. Parliament's acceptance of the ruling [Reuters report] comes only after the Social Liberal Union, the country's leftist party that commands the government's lower house and is led by Prime Minister Victor Ponta [BBC profile], worked to suspend Basescu in July and garner votes for his impeachment in a national referendum. After Ponta's party gained control of the parliamentary majority in May, Basescu was quickly impeached in July [JURIST report] by a vote of 256-114. Thereafter, Parliament also voted to eliminate the national referendum law mandating a minimum 50 percent voter turnout. Although 80 percent of voters were in favor of ousting Basescu, the Constitutional Court reinstated the referendum rule [JURIST report] and relied on a finding by Romania's national electoral bureau that only 46 percent of the country voted , thus invalidating the referendum.

Basescu has faced several similar political challenges throughout the course of his eight-year presidency. In 2009 the Constitutional Court declared then-incumbent Basescu the winner of a disputed presidential election [JURIST report], returning him to office after unanimously rejecting a complaint by Mircea Geoana, Basescu's opponent, alleging voter fraud and bribery. In 2007, he survived a similar referendum [JURIST report] with 74 percent of the vote and only 44 percent turnout. Babescu was first elected President of Romania in December 2004.

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