[JURIST] The Constitutional Court of Romania [official website, in Romanian] on Monday approved the Parliamentary vote to suspend President Traian Basescu [official website, in Romania] and replace him with a member of the centre-left coalition. Last Friday the Romanian Parliament [official website] voted [JURIST report] 356-114 for impeachment on the grounds that Basescu overstepped his authority by interfering in judicial and legislative affairs. Controversy has been brewing since Prime Minister Victor Ponta [BBC profile], a member of the centre-left coalition, came to power. The suspension of Basescu and firing of other lawmakers has led to growing international concern. The US State Department [official website] said the recent events may pose a threat to democracy [Reuters report] by interfering with checks and balances as well as the legitimacy of the courts. The upheld vote means Basescu will be suspended [AFP report] until the public votes in a referendum currently scheduled for July 29.
Last week, the Constitutional Court also accused Ponta of overstepping his authority [JURIST report] by attempting to seize control over the judiciary system. The court announced that it has alerted the European authorities [Reuters report] of the situation. Also last week Ponta ignored a decision by the court finding Basescu should be the representative of the country at the European Council [official website] meeting in Brussels. In 2009 the Constitutional Court declared incumbent president Basescu winner of the country’s disputed presidential election [JURIST report]. Basescu, who has been president of Romania since 2004, has survived impeachment once before. In 2007 Basescu was reinstated after the high court certified the results of a referendum in which 74 percent of voters rejected Basescu’s impeachment [JURIST report].