President Traian Basescu
President Traian Basescu Reuters

Romanian President Traian Basescu has been suspended from his post for 30 days. A public referendum -- likely to take place within 30 days -- will decide whether he is removed from office.

Basescu's leftist political opponents, headed by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, said they were pursuing impeachment proceedings because the center-rightist Basescu overstepped his presidential authority. The motion to suspend the president passed in Parliament on Friday by a 256-114 vote, according to the BBC.

The incident is part of a long-running power struggle between Romania's two leading political factions: Each side has long accused the other of corruption and mismanagement.

The country became a member of the European Union in 2007, but its poor economic status has worsened in recent years. Romania today is in dire need of funding, but has come under EU scrutiny for failing to prosecute corruption in its chronically inefficient government. Romania is in danger of losing hundreds of millions of euros in assistance if it does not clean up its act.

Meanwhile, public demonstrations against austerity and high-level corruption are clogging Romania's streets.

Ponta has independently decreed a change in referendum protocol and a revocation of the court's veto power -- controversial moves intended to ease the impeachment of Basescu. This has already elicited censure from the European Commission, and Ponta is now scheduled to meet with EU officials next week.

For the time being, Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu, an ally of Ponta, will serve as interim president.