Basescu, Traian [key], 1951–, Romanian political leader, president of Romania (2004–14). An officer in the Romanian merchant marine from 1976, he rose to become an oil-tanker captain (1981–87). After the collapse of communism (1989), Basescu joined the newly formed center-right Democratic party and served as Romania's transportation minister (1991–92, 1996–2000) and in parliament (1992–96). As transport minister, he worked toward the privatization of the country's commercial fleet. In 2000 he was elected mayor of Bucharest, where he sought to modernize the city and improve living conditions for many residents. Four years later he narrowly defeated Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, a Socialist, to win Romania's presidency. In that post, he fought corruption and instituted a number of reforms, but he also engaged in bitter political battling with Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, the center-right prime minister (2004–8). In 2007, after the parliament impeached him on charges of unconstitutional conduct, he remained in office when three fourths of the voters refused to approve the impeachment. Basescu was reelected, by a narrow margin, in 2009. In 2012 he survived a second impeachment referendum when it failed to muster a sufficient turnout.
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