Turnout too low in Romanian vote
BUCHAREST, Romania – Romanian election officials declared late Sunday that a referendum to impeach the nation’s president on grounds that he overstepped his authority had failed because of low voter turnout.
The Central Election Bureau put the voter turnout in Sunday’s referendum on President Traian 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.
“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 popular support and pledged to work toward reconciliation in the nation of 19 million that 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.”
Basescu was accused by his rivals in the government of violating the constitution by overstepping his authority to interfere in the daily running of the country, appointing loyalists to key positions in the justice system and using the secret services against his political rivals. Basescu claimed his rivals were planning to seize control of the judicial system and European Union funds. Romania joined the EU in 2007.
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