Romanians go to the polls today for a special referendum to determine whether to remove Traian Băsescu, Romanian’s president since 2004, from office.
Voters will be faced with one question: Sunteți de acord cu demiterea Președintelui României, domnul Traian Băsescu? (Do you agree with the dismissal of the President of Romania, Mr. Traian Băsescu?)
If over 50% of eligible voters turnout, and if a majority answer “Yes,” then Băsescu will be removed from office. Such a dismissal would be a massive political victory for Victor Ponta, Romania’s new prime minister since May 2012. Ponta (who belongs to Romania’s leftist Social Democratic Party and whose allies include the free-market National Liberal Party) is looking to consolidate his power before heading into parliamentary elections on November 25 — his alliance currently seems much more popular than the Democratic Liberal Party to which Băsescu belongs and to which Emil Boc belongs — Boc was Romania’s austerity-minded prime minister from 2008 until February of this year.
Ponta and his allies have accused Băsescu of overstepping his constitutional authority as president, despite a ruling by Romania’s Constitutional Court to the contrary.
Ponta been accused by European Union officials of undermining democratic institutions in Romania — the removal of Băsescu, however unpopular he may be, will only reinforce doubts about the direction of Romanian rule of law.
As we wait for word from Bucharest, here are some of the first movements of Romanian composer György Ligeti’s Musica ricercata: