Klaus Johannis, interim chairmanof PNL, stated Friday live onRealitatea TV that Crin Antonescu,the party’s former leader, could runin this fall’s presidential elections.When asked whether the latter hadperhaps expressed interest in joiningthe presidential race in a personalconversation, the mayor ofSibiu replied, “He has not, in mypersonal conversations with him,but we must certainly see what theparty wants. My situation is interesting,since Mr. Antonescuannounced he would step downfrom both the party chairmanshipand the presidential elections. Thatis why we have not discussed thecandidacy.” The interim leader ofPNL explained that Antonescucould have stayed on as party chairman,and if he had decided to runin the Congress to be held late thismonth the mayor of Sibiu wouldnot have run against him.Calculations are already beingmade at local level in view of theJune 28/29 Congress, which willappoint the new PNL chairmanand decide over the degree of supportfor the party’s presidential candidate.The Permanent Delegationof PNL Cluj decided on Saturdayto support Johannis in the PNLCongress and cast a vote of confidencefor Senator Marius Nicoarafor the PNL vice-chairmanship.
NO EXACT DATE FOR RIGHTUNIFICATION
On the other hand, actingChairman of the PNL says mergertalks with the Democratic LiberalParty (PDL) are going on well, buthe cannot set any exact date for theunification of the Right. ‘Talkswith PDL are going on well and Iam quite hopeful that we will managein a short time to reach a positiveoutcome. We are all striving toprogress quickly, but we cannotoffer a date now,’ Johannis told apress conference on Friday. Askedwhether the unification of theRight will happen before this year’spresidential election, Johannis said,‘as soon as possible.’ Johannis hasrecently stated that as far as the unificationof the Right is concerned,PNL will have to play a determinantpart in the process. He alsoexplained that the first informalmerger talks between PNL andPDL took place immediately afterthe May 25 European elections.When asked to comment aboutthe possibility of Calin PopescuTariceanu returning to PNL,Johannis categorically said he “hasburned every bridge tying him toPNL” through the announcementmade Thursday (editor’s note – ofcreating the Initiative Group forthe Preservation of LiberalIdentity), as his group is “quasipolitical”and “fed by PSD.”According to the mayor of Sibiu,part of the members of the partywho attended Thursday’s meetingwith Calin Popescu Tariceanu“have either left the party or beenkicked out,” while others will besanctioned “following further discussions.”In turn, Deputy GratielaGavrilescu, one of the participantsin Tariceanu’s launch of theInitiative Group, claims “no onehas the right to disregard PNL’sstatute,” according to which partymembers are free to join NGOs.Furthermore, she said neither hercolleagues nor her have done “anythingthat might suggest they failedto protect PNL’s interests,” as the15 MPs who attended the launchwere accused of doing.In a subsequent televisedappearance, Johannis characterizedthe potential comeback of TeodorMelescanu, director of the ForeignIntelligence Service, as a win for theLiberals. “We haven’t talked aboutit,” Klaus Johannis said in a specialedition of the Power Games TVshow, produced in Sibiu
OBJECTIONS TO PDL MERGER
The disagreement overappointing a presidential candidateand the party’s dissidents who haveshown support for Tariceanu is notthe only problem the Liberals arefacing these days. One of the constanttopics of debate among PNLmembers is by far the alliance ormerger with PDL. Nicolae Robu,chairman of PNL Timis, statedFriday in a press conference that heis an advocate of the PNL’s mergerwith PDL because no politicalalliance seems to have worked inRomania over the course of time.“We have high hopes of winningthe Romanian presidency becausethe electorate showed right-winginclinations in the previous elections.PSD won by number ofvotes, but if you add up the right’svotes and the right-wing candidateMircea Diaconu’s votes, you willsee an inclination toward theright,” Robu said.However, PNL deputyLudovic Orban argued the mergerwith PDL can only be carried outafter the presidential elections andon the condition that the Liberals’name not vanish. “I have talked toa lot of colleagues from PDL andtried to explain to each and everyone of them that no PNL memberwould agree to remove PNL fromthe political arena after 140 years.It is absolutely out of the question!”Orban emphaticallyremarked.