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BALKANS > Romanian president survives bid to oust him

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Romanian election officials declared late July 29 that a referendum to impeach the nation’s president Traian Basescu on grounds that he overstepped his authority had failed because of low voter turnout.

The Central Election Bureau put the voter turnout in July 29’s referendum on Basescu at 45.92 percent, with a 3 percent margin of error. By law, such referendums are invalid if less than half the electorate cast ballots. The bureau did not immediately give the outcome of the vote, but two exit polls showed more than 80 percent favored impeaching Basescu the Associated Press reported.

“Romanians have invalidated the referendum by not voting,” Basescu said on national TV as he announced he had survived the vote. However, he acknowledged he had lost support, and pledged to work toward reconciliation in the nation of 19 million which threw off communism in 1989.

“I assure Romanians that once I return ... I will try and generate a sentiment of reconciliation in society,” he said. “It’s clear that Romanians are unhappy about what has happened in recent years. Divisions in society must be stopped; they must be annihilated, because Romania needs all its energy to ... integrate into the civilized world.”

Meanwhile, Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta said that “Basescu will remain at Cotroceni (the presidential palace) but he will no longer have legitimacy,” pointing out that millions of voters had voted for Basescu’s impeachment, according to the Agence France-Presse.

July/31/2012

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