Romanians protest amid tensions between President and Prime Minister
Some 2,000 Romanians gathered in Revolution Square in Bucharest, its capital to rally against the ruling coalition. The protest was started by Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, the former Romanian Prime Minister who was replaced two months ago by Victor Ponta, the head of USL coalition (opposition). The Government was replaced in a no-confidence vote two months after taking office.
The people are demanding the new Premier’s resignation, as well as respect for the Constitutional Court and the rule of law.
Other 400 hundred people protest at University Square in Bucharest, but they are demonstrating against the president Traian Basescu, chanting “Basescu go out!” Some protesters got on fight, but the police succeeded to stop them on time.
While the people are protesting, the Romanian Government modified the Referendum Law, which will imply the possibility to remove the president with a majority of votes of the citizens during a national referendum. The current Prime Minister Victor Ponta wants to relegate president Traian Basescu (PD-L).
The Government scheduled for Friday a vote to suspend president Traian Basescu being accused to have violated the Constitution.
The political framework has been very careworn in the past days. Romanian Prime Minister has been accused of plagiarism in his Doctoral thesis. Mr. Ponta rejected the accusations, but claimed that he is ready to give up his academic name if it will be demonstrated that he has copied part of his work. In an interview with the Spanish El Pais newspaper, the Romanian Premier said he will resign if proven that his thesis was plagiarized. Another recent incident happened during today’s cabinet session when Victor Ponta called Traian Basescu a “swindler.”
The Prime Minister threatened the judges of the Constitutional Court with impeachment and prohibited the institution to review acts of Parliament.
Last week Victor Ponta rejected the Constitutional Court’s decision on the politician who should represent Romania at the European Council’s summit. The Court entitled President Basescu to represent the country. Mr. Ponta flew to Brussels ignoring the decision.
According to the experts and foreign officials, Romania is attacking the rule of law.
German Ambassador to Romania Andreas von Mettenheim told Gandul newspaper that the German Government is paying attention to the recent developments in Romania. He urges the state institutions and the political parties to act democratically regardless the difficulties of the political context. He stated that the independence of the Constitutional Court should be respected.
US Ambassador to Bucharest Mark Gitenstein said on Wednesday that the president’s demission won’t affect Romania’s image, but serious consequences will appear if it will be done in an unconstitutional way.
“I am deeply concerned about any attempt to threaten the independence of Romania’s democratic institutions. Manipulation or threats to your institutions particularly your courts will not only be of concern to our government but to the way Romania is viewed by financial markets. We have had unfortunate experience in the United States with "court packing" when President Roosevelt tried to change the composition of our Supreme Court when he became unhappy with some of its decisions. These acts were universally condemned. It was a dark day in an otherwise great presidency and it will be a dark day in Romanian history if the same comes to pass here,” US Ambassador Mark Gitenstein said in a press statement.
EU Commissioner Viviane Reding said in a post on Twitter that she expresses concern on the recent developments in the political framework of Romania.
“I am seriously concerned about recent attacks on the independence of the Constitutional Court of Romania,” the EU official said. She added: “For me, a well functioning, independent judicial system is a pre-condition for mutual trust in the European area of Justice.”