The vote of 256-114 in parliament came as Basescu and Prime Minister Victor Ponta have engaged in a bitter power struggle in the eastern European country of 19 million, which emerged from communism in 1989. The machinations, especially attempts to sideline the judiciary, have led the United States and the European Union to issue statements of concern about Romania’s democracy.
Basescu’s opponents accused him of overstepping his authority by meddling with the prime minister’s office and trying to influence judicial affairs. The 60-year-old former ship captain also was accused of making racist remarks about Gypsies and disabled people.
Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu, who will serve as interim president now that Basescu has been effectively suspended from the role, said a popular referendum on Basescu’s fate will be held July 29.