On 19 May, Romanians vote in a referendum that will decide the fate of their impeached president, Traian Basescu. Parliament, in joint sitting of its two chambers, voted to suspend the president on 20 April by a vote of 322-108. Under the Romanian constitution, the decision on whether to remove the president from office or reinstate him rests with the electorate. RFE/RL has a good background report on the crisis, which arises from conflicts within the dual executive structure of Romania’s semi-presidential system, and charges and counter-charges of corruption. SEEurope.net has a timeline. And I have previously provided some context in a discussion of the party realignments that took place between rounds of the presidential election in which Basescu was elected.
Basescu is expected to prevail easily. In the run-up to the referendum, demonstrations have taken place in Bucharest, such as the one shown here (via DW’s Journal program, broadcast on Link-TV this past week).
With the help of a friend who is Romanian, I can report that the sign in the center reads, “322 members of parliament thieves”, and the one on the right says “we voted for him, they suspended him.”
But the most interesting one of all to me is the sign on the left, which (rather obviously) says: “unicameral parliament, uninominal vote.” The term, uninominal, presumably refers to a call to replace Romania’s closed-list PR electoral system (used in both houses) with a single-seat district system.
Regarding the cameral structure, apparently Basescu in 2005 called for a referendum on unicameralism, although it has not occurred. If he indeed wins big over parliament on Saturday, one might expect various institutional reforms to follow.