Romanian Crisis Erodes Ruling Party’s Popularity

While Victor Ponta’s coalition is still expected to win the next general election, the failed attempt to impeach the President has reduced its popularity, according to a new poll.Romania’s centre-left government is expected to win around 54 per cent of the vote in a general election, down from its earlier ratings of 63 per cent in a July poll, a survey conducted by pollster IRES showed on Sunday.The impeachment referendum against President Traian Basescu has damaged popular support for Victor Ponta’s ruling Social Liberal Union, USL, the poll suggests.

Although most voters in the referendum on July 29 backed impeaching the President, the turnout was only around 46 per cent. Of approximately 8.3 million people who voted, around 87 per cent were in favour of impeaching the President.

On the other hand, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, PDL, would get 23 per cent of the vote, up from 18 per cent last month, the same survey showed.

The PDL, with which Basescu has close links, lost most of its support due to its pursuit of some unpopular economic measures in the last two years, when the party was in power, including cuts in public sector pay and an increase in VAT.

In July 2010, the government cut civil servants’ wages by 25 per cent, while thousands of state jobs were axed and VAT was increased by 5 per cent to 24 per cent.

The party of populist Dan Diaconescu – a media mogul who wants deep tax cuts and higher wages and pensions – came third in the poll with around 10 per cent of the vote.

Romania is to organize crucial parliamentary election by the end of the year.

By a majority of six votes to three, the judges of the Constitutional Court decided that the referendum on the President’s future was not valid because turnout did not meet the required threshold of 50 per cent. The decision opens the way for President Basescu to return to his duties.

The Constitutional Court revealed its decision after weeks of study of all the relevant data related to the referendum on the President’s impeachment.

Basescu was previously suspended in 2007 for one month, but returned to power following a popular referendum.

European Union officials have expressed considerable disquiet over the campaign to remove the President, questioning the government’s commitment to the rule of law and democracy.

Bucharest depends on a 20-billion-euro rescue package from the IMF, the European Union and the World Bank. It obtained the loan in May 2009 in exchange for agreeing to push through austerity measures aimed at taming the country’s yawning deficit.

The centre-right party won just 13 per cent of votes in the June 10 local elections, well down on its 33 per cent showing in the elections in 2008. The ruling Social Liberal Union, USL, got around 51 per cent in the elections.

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