This is a Monday, Feb. 6, 2012. file photo of Romanian President Traian Basescu, as her announces as Prime Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, unseen, currently the head of Romania's foreign intelligence service in Bucharest, Romania. Romania's President Traian Basescu says he's on "Mission Impossible" to save democracy in this former Communist country. His opponents hope he's on an impossible quest to save his job. As Romania hold a referendum Sunday on impeaching Basescu, the ugly political battle has raised questions about the rule of law in the fledgling EU member. It comes against the background of similar concerns about shaky democracy across Eastern Europe, in countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Serbia that are striving to join the European mainstream.
© AP Photo
BUCHAREST — Romania is holding a referendum on impeaching President Traian Basescu, part of a political battle that has raised questions about the rule of law in the fledgling EU member.
Basescu's rivals are seeking to impeach him for the second time in five years. They claim the 60-year-old populist violated the constitution by meddling in government business, coddling cronies and using the secret services against enemies.
Basescu says the impeachment process is a political vendetta carried out by opponents plotting to seize control of EU funds and the justice system. He has urged supporters to boycott Sunday's vote in order to nullify it by a low turnout.
The political turmoil has dented Romania's credibility, with the U.S. and the EU expressing doubts about the left-leaning government's respect for the judiciary's independence.