ANOTHER round of political turmoil is the last thing Romanians need right now. The country has changed governments twice this year. Thousands of people took the streets in January to protest against austerity measures and poor living standards.
Traian Basescu, the president, and Victor Ponta, the prime minister, are attacking each other mercilessly. It all started a month ago, when both expressed their interest in attending the European Council in Brussels. The parliament voted for Mr Ponta to attend. Yet Mr Basescu asked the Constitutional Court to state who has the constitutional right to go to Brussels on behalf of Romania. The court said on June 27th that it is Mr Basescu. Mr Ponta retorted shortly afterwards that he was expecting the court’s judges to take this decision because they are controlled by Mr Basescu. He added that Mr Basescu controls not just this institution, but also other public institutions. (He didn’t specify which ones.)
Mr Ponta upped the ante suggesting that his ruling alliance might start the procedure to suspend Mr Basescu. “Romanians must decide if they want to go with President Basescu and his five judges or if they want to go with us, on a different road”, he said. He ignored the court’s decision and flew to Brussels on June 28th. Mr Basescu had sent him a letter a few days earlier, warning him that if he decides to go without his approval, this would be considered “a breach of a constitutional right belonging to the president”. However, Mr Ponta said that this was a conflict not between the government and the president, but between the president and parliament, as parliamentarians had voted for him to represent Romania in Brussels.