PROFILE-Romania's President Traian Basescu

Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:45pm EST

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Position: President of Romania 	
    Incumbent: Traian Basescu	
    Born: Nov. 4, 1951	
    Term: Directly elected to second five-year term in Dec.
2009. Cannot stand again.	
             
    Key Facts:	
    -- Third president since the end of communism in 1989, the
feisty former sea captain won praise for tackling
corruption and preparing Romania to join the European Union in
2007. But an abrasive style and accusations he overstepped his
notionally figurehead role saw him suspended in 2007 before
Romanians rejected his impeachment by a 3 to 1 margin at a
referendum.	
    -- A merchant navy captain, he was enrolled of necessity in
the communist party under Nicolae Ceausescu and won early fame
for taking command of Romania's largest ship, aged just 32.	
    -- As transport minister in the 1990s, he spearheaded the
privatisation of Romania's large but rusting commercial fleet.	
    -- Elected mayor of Bucharest in 2000 by a landslide, his
campaign symbol was a red pepper, a staple of local cuisine and
a warning of his sharpness. Among controversies, he razed many
street kiosks and tried to rid the city of stray dogs. That
angered animal welfare activists, including Brigitte Bardot.	
    -- Pledging reform of a murky political class, Basescu
succeeded veteran ex-communist president Ion Iliescu in 2004.
Five years later, he was narrowly re-elected on a centre-right
ticket, beating left-winger Mircea Geoana.
    -- Having opened up the archives of Ceausescu's feared
Securitate secret police to the public in 2005, he was cleared
the following year of having been one of its collaborators.	
    -- Three governments have collapsed during his tenure, most
recently in February 2012 when centrist prime minister Emil Boc
quit after protests against an IMF-approved austerity drive.
Economic troubles have also hit Basescu's own popularity.	
    -- Accusations of making racial slurs and of nepotism - his
night-clubbing daughter fast-tracked through Romanian politics
and into the EU parliament - have also not helped his standing.	
    -- With a parliamentary election due in November and polls
predicting victory for the leftist opposition, Basescu replaced
Boc with former spy chief Mihai Razvan Ungureanu and seems set
on bolstering the electoral chances of the centrist PDL.
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