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Romanian parliament to vote on impeachment of the president - extended

The Romanian parliament was due to vote Thursday on a referendum to decide whether President Traian Basescu should be impeached.

The result of the vote backed by opposition Socialists (PSD), the far-right Romania Mare (Greater Romania Party) and the Conservative Party (PC) was expected to be very tight. A minority cabinet consisting of the National Liberal Party (PNL) of Prime Minister Calin Popescu and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) has been ruling Romania with parliamentary support from the Socialists since Easter. The opposition is accusing Basescu of causing political instability by interfering in the country's internal affairs and charge that he lacks impartiality. Basescu has said that he would resign if the vote goes against him. Half the parliament, 234 deputies and senators, would need to vote for his suspension.

The Socialists, Romania Mare and the Conservatives have no absolute majority and would need eight votes from the governing parties to win the vote. The ruling PNL and UDMR have granted their members freedom to follow their consciences in the vote. The governing coalition between Tariceanu's PNL and the Democratic Party (PD), which is close to Basescu, was dissolved on April 1 when Tariceanu announced that the Democratic Party would no longer be represented in the cabinet. Differences between the PNL and PD have been simmering for months in Romania and are largely based on the rivalry between the prime minister and the president. The two men accuse each other of incompetence and of being too close to Romania's private industry.

In the vote, 322 of parliamentary members and senators were in favour, to 108 opposed to the move, which was backed by opposition Socialists (PSD), the far-right Romania Mare (Greater Romania Party) and the Conservative Party (PC). There were 10 abstentions. Basescu had announced that he would step down if the vote went against him and he was expected to state his intentions later Thursday. If Basescu stepped down, a referendum would not be held. Presidential elections would have to be held within three weeks. The Socialists, Romania Mare and the Conservatives have no absolute majority and the vote was passed with the support of the governing National Liberal Party (PNL) of Prime Minister Calin Popescu and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UMDR).

A minority cabinet consisting of the PNL and the UDMR has been ruling Romania with parliamentary support from the Socialists since Easter. The opposition has accused Basescu of causing political instability by interfering in the country's internal affairs and charge that he lacks impartiality.

The governing coalition between Tariceanu's PNL and the Democratic Party (PD), which is close to Basescu, was dissolved on April 1 when Tariceanu announced that the Democratic Party would no longer be represented in the cabinet. Differences between the PNL and PD have been simmering for months in Romania and are largely based on the rivalry between the prime minister and the president. The two men accuse each other of incompetence and of being too close to Romania's private industry. (eux.tv)