Charismatic and popular in Romania, even if his ratings have fallen of late, Traian Basescu was elected president in 2004.
The former sea captain who led his country into the EU, is described by opponents as biased, arrogant, even despotic.
He however maintains that all he has been doing is shedding light on what is wrong with Romania.
Even yesterday, Basescu was confident he could count on public support.
“I think it is right for the electorate to judge and decide who to keep – the president of Romania or, who knows, the parliament,” he said.
The crisis has been taking root for a long time. But the circumstances surrounding Romania’s entry to the EU forced the president and Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu to keep quiet about their differences. However once the party was over, Basescu found himself at war, once again, with his premier and the parliamentary opposition.
Things accelerated when the prime minister won parliament’s approval for a cabinet reshuffle in which he sidelined ministers from the pro-presidential camp. A minority government was formed with the support of the opposition Social Democrats.
Destined to topple the president, the unlikely alliance may have difficulties ensuring stability. Neither the Social Democrats not the premier’s liberals are ready to go to the polls. What is more, analysts say it is President Basescu who has every chance of victory if early elections are held.
The crisis situation risks damaging Romania’s image as it takes its place in the EU – and all this just days ahead of a visit by experts from Brussels, tasked with evaluating the country’s progress.