Political turmoil deepens as Romanian prime minister postpones EP elections


Three months after EU accession, the governing political coalition is on the verge of collapse.

By Gelu Trandafir for Southeast European Times in Bucharest – 13/07/03


Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu (left) has repeatedly clashed with President Traian Basescu. [Getty Images]

Over President Traian Basescu's strong objections, the Liberal Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu has postponed European Parliament elections until the second half of this year. An "inappropriate domestic political climate" would hamper serious debate on European issues in the campaign to elect 35 Romanian MEPs, Tariceanu said, citing opposition attempts to impeach the president as well as Basescu's call for changes to the current voting system.

Most political analysts say the real reason is the drop in public support for the Liberals and the opposition parties, as shown in recent opinion polls. Embroiled in a political battle with the president, these parties have not been able to prepare themselves for the initial EP election date of May 13th. A likely defeat could have had serious political consequences both for Tariceanu and the leader of the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), Mircea Geoana.

The PSD hailed the postponement as "a rational decision", while the ultra nationalist Greater Romania Party termed it a "responsible gesture". But the Democrats, Tariceanu's coalition partners, opposed the move. They accused Tariceanu of taking a "unilateral decision for the benefit of the PSD".

Democratic Party ministers Vasile Blaga (Interior) and Monica Macovei (Justice) refused to endorse Tariceanu's emergency move. They have been asked either to change their stance or leave the cabinet.

"A new majority has been taking form behind the scenes," Basescu said, accusing the Liberals of "violating the main democratic principle of giving up your mandate when you no longer have the majority".

Related Articles


Tariceanu's cabinet lost its fragile majority in Parliament last December, but the ruling parties did not call then for early elections. Instead, a new coalition, described by some journalists as the "black rectangle", has been emerging. The Greater Romania Party, the Social Democrats, and the Conservatives all say they are ready to support Tariceanu's cabinet if he expels Basescu's ministers.

Since mid-January, this heterogeneous coalition has been trying to impeach President Basescu and secure Macovei's resignation. But she has the support of EU Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini, and of the public. At the end of February, up to 1,000 Romanians braved the rain and cold at an anti-corruption rally in Bucharest, showing solidarity with the beleaguered minister.

Macovei is widely viewed as the main architect of the anticorruption drive that made Romania's EU accession possible.

With former political allies fighting each other, and former adversaries becoming strange bedfellows, Romania's political scene is in an uproar. Only weeks after EU accession, the rift in the government is making it all but impossible to continue with reforms and the fight against corruption.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
  • Email to a friend
  • icon Print Version
  • Share/Save/Bookmark

We welcome your comments on SETimes's articles.

It is our hope that you will use this forum to interact with other readers across Southeast Europe. In order to keep this experience interesting, we ask you to follow the rules outlined in the comments policy. By submitting comments, you are consenting to these rules. While SETimes.com encourages discussion on all subjects, including sensitive ones, the comments posted are solely the views of those submitting them. SETimes.com does not necessarily endorse or agree with the ideas, views, or opinions voiced in these comments. SETimes.com welcomes constructive discussion but discourages the use of copy-pasted materials, unaccompanied links and one-line slogans. This is a moderated forum. Comments deemed abusive, offensive, or those containing profanity may not be published.

SETimes's Comments Policy

Focus on Ukraine


Region, Turkey optimistic about new EU leadersRegion, Turkey optimistic about new EU leaders

Regional officials say the recent personnel changes in the EU will have a positive impact on their countries' relationship with Brussels.

SETimes logo

Most Popular



Should Greece change how it handles illegal immigrants?

I don't know