BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romanian President Traian Băsescu survived a referendum on his impeachment on Sunday after the voter turnout fell short of the required level and derailed an effort by his opponents to oust him from office.
Leftist Prime Minister Victor Ponta’s efforts to unseat the conservative Băsescu have brought a stern dressing-down from the European Union, which accused him of undermining the rule of lawand intimidating judges.
The row over Băsescu has delayed policymaking, sent the leu currency plunging to record lows, and pushed up borrowing costs. It also raised concern about the future of Romania’s 5 billion euro ($6.2 billion) International Monetary Fund-led aid deal.
The election bureau said the voter turnout was 46 percent, below the 50 percent threshold Ponta’s leftist Social Liberal Union (USL) needed to make the referendum valid.
Exit polls showed more than 80 percent of those who went to the ballot box had voted to remove the president.
“The flame of democracy has remained alight. Romanians have rejected the coup d’etat,” Băsescu said.
Ponta, whose government took office in May, suspended Băsescu and held the referendum to seek popular backing for the impeachment for overstepping his powers. The president is unpopular for backing austerity and for perceptions of cronyism.