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ROMANIA LIBERA, REVISTA 22 (Romania)

Worldcrunch

BUCHAREST - The political crisis in Romania worsens, threatening the country's already fragile economy.

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court was expected to invalidate the results of July 29's referendum on the impeachment of President Traian Basescu, Romania. Eighty-eight percent of those who participated in the referendum voted to dismiss President Basescu.

But, "Huge Surprise," titles the Bucharest daily Romania Libera on Friday: The Constitutional Court has delayed ruling on the referendum until September 12.

The July 29 poll was deemed invalid because of low voter turnout: only 46% of the electorate voted, while Romanian legislation demands a 50% participation for a ballot to count.

However, Romania's Prime Minister Victor Ponta, instigator of the impeachment vote, says the 50% threshold might have actually been reached. He says that according to 2011 census figures, the Romanian total population decreased significantly, from 22 millions to 19, as explains the weekly publication Revista 22.

Using the new numbers, believes Ponta, the 50% limit was indeed met.

The nine judges from the Romanian Constitutional Court were not able to reach a unanimous decision on whether or not to uphold the referendum's result.

Until the September ruling, President Basescu remains suspended and is replaced by interim president, Crin Antonescu.

The political stalemate has a strong impact on the economy of the seventh largest EU member state. According to the national publication Romania Libera, the local currency (LEU) was at its lowest rate after the delay announced by the Constitutional Court yesterday.

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