Ponta prepared to resign if put under investigation over election shambles

By bne IntelliNews December 8, 2014

bne IntelliNews -

 

Romania’s Prime Minister Victor Ponta said in a televised interview with Antena3 on December 6 that he is ready to resign if anti-corruption prosecutors start an investigation against him in relation to irregularities in the November presidential elections.

Romania’s main prosecution office has already launched a criminal investigation into the presidential elections, in which many overseas Romanians were unable to cast their votes because of insufficient capacity at polling stations. The prosecution office has since passed the case to the anti-corruption office (DNA).

It is now looking increasingly likely that Ponta may be investigated in relation to the irregularities, Deutsche Welle concluded in a comment on December 5.

The Romanian president is entitled under Article 109 of the constitution to suspend the prime minister if he or she becomes the subject of a criminal investigation. Should Ponta be removed from his seat, this would encourage opposition parties to step up their efforts first to form a new parliamentary majority, and then start procedures for early elections.

Under Romanian law, the abuse of public office resulting in material or immaterial benefits for public servants, realised by restricting certain citizens’ rights, is penalised by three to 15 years in prison.

However, it is debatable whether ministers and the prime minister fall into the category of public servants. It is also unclear whether the prosecutors can demonstrate that government officials intended to organise the presidential elections in such a way that a significant number of citizens living abroad were not able to vote.

Supporting prosecutors’ allegations are media reports that embassies asked the government to open more voting stations, as well as public statements from Mircea Geoana, formerly a senior Party of Social Democrats (PSD) official. If this evidence is confirmed, prosecutors could ask to investigate top government officials including Ponta.

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