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Last Updated: Sunday, 20 May 2007, 07:46 GMT 08:46 UK
Romania president survives vote
A Romanian woman casts her vote in Bucharest
Turnout was about 44%, election officials said
Romanians have overwhelmingly voted against impeaching suspended President Traian Basescu, preliminary official results have shown.

Mr Basescu was accused of violating the constitution and was suspended by parliament on 19 April.

He has been locked in a long-running power struggle with his former ally, Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu.

Data collected from 92% of polling stations showed 74% of people voted against impeaching the president.

Turnout was about 44%.

Despite the result, a major debate is likely on the future division of powers between parliament and president, says the BBC's Nick Thorpe in Bucharest.

Romanians explain how they voted in poll

The president will still be facing his opponents in parliament, who also control the government. The president has called for them to resign, but legally he cannot force them to go, our correspondent says.

The voters had to decide between conflicting views of Mr Basescu - as a threat to democracy or a political hero pushing for renewal and good governance.

'Vote for justice'

Prime Minister Tariceanu, speaking after exit polls on Saturday evening, said the low turnout meant it was a victory without glory for the president.

President Traian Basescu

There were more than 18 million eligible voters, including two million Romanians living abroad.

"I voted for our own good, for justice," Iuliana, 70, a pensioner in Timisoara told the BBC. "Why shouldn't Traian Basescu be president? We voted for him once and now we elect him a second time."

The opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP), who initiated the impeachment process, describe Mr Basescu as dictatorial and corrupt, a failure who has never lived up to his constitutional duties.

"I voted for the chance of a new beginning for all those who don't want scandal and chaos and who want to live in... a democratic Europe," said SDP head Mircea Geoana.

The president says his enemies are desperate to stop his anti-corruption drive, which has rattled what he calls "the economic mafia".

Some analysts say only a general election could calm the situation, but the next poll is more than 18 months away.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Adrian Cioroianu warned that Europe's patience with Romania had a limit and that after the referendum, politicians should stop fighting and get back to work.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Basescu greets his supporters



SEE ALSO
Country profile: Romania
17 May 07 |  Country profiles
Romania's MPs suspend president
19 Apr 07 |  Europe

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