The Romanian Parliament decided yesterday to impeach President Traian Băsescu by 256 votes for to 114 votes against. A referendum on his impeachment will be held on 29th July.
Speaker of the upper house or Senate, Crin Antonescu, who only took up this post on Tuesday (3rd July) after the former Speaker was ousted, will be the acting president in the interim period.
The ruling Social Liberal Union (USL) made up of Prime Minister Ponta’s Social Democratic Party (PSD), the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Conservative Party (PC) changed the rules for the impeachment referendum last week. Before, a majority of all voters was required for the impeachment referendum to be carried, now it only requires a simple majority of those who vote.
The President, who has been in power since 2004, faced a similar impeachment referendum in 2007. On April 19th 2007 the parliament voted to impeach him by 322 votes for and 108 against with eight abstentions. The president won a narrow victory in the subsequent referendum on 19th May 2007.
The president, who has seen his opinion poll ratings flagging, is in charge of foreign and defence policy as well as the intelligence services. He is due to stand for re-election in 2014.