PNL is split in two camps: one that supports Crin Antonescu and the other that expects the Extraordinary Congress in June, when a new leading team will be elected.
Chaos at the top of PNL after the poor showing in the elections for the European Parliament, followed by the mass resignation of the members of the National Permanent Bureau (BPN), starting with Crin Antonescu and Klaus Johannis, who renounced their position of president and, respectively, first vice-president of the party. The last straw was the vote of the BPN in favour of Antonescu’s proposal about the party leaving the ALDE group of the EP and joining the European People’s Party (EPP), alongside PDL and UDMR, without a debate inside the party over such a major decision. Plus, the decision to expel from PNL the former minister of Interior Radu Stroe and to remove the ex-PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu from a meeting of a Permanent Delegation of PNL, which preceded the BPN meeting held Monday, along with the dissolution of the Satu Mare organisation of PNL (which accepted Tariceanu to rejoin the party) – put in discussion the need for calling an Extraordinary Congress at the end of June, which will elect the new leading team of the party.
Informal sources already started to hint about the possible candidates for the office of PNL leader, some names being those of Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Klaus Johannis, Bogdan Olteanu or Ludovic Orban, Antena 3 reports. So far, out of them, only Orban voiced an intent to run for the presidency of PNL. “I said that when the office of PNL president will become vacant, I will run for the position of PNL president and I declare it,” the former Minister of Transportation mentioned.
On the other hand, both Tariceanu and Stroe blame the BPN for its decisions and lash out at Crin Antonescu over his recent attitude. After the meeting of the Permanent Delegation that ruled to expel him from the party, Radu Stroe said that he cannot understand the behaviour of his fellow liberals toward Calin Popescu Tariceanu and, if things went this far, there is not much to hope for.
“I cannot understand which way PNL is going, even the behaviour toward Mr. Tariceanu is inelegant, to say the least,” Stroe stated, adding that things were pushed “too far” and “regardless of the criticism against Tariceanu, he still remains one of the most liberal prime ministers and party presidents.” In his opinion, the political career of Crin Antonescu as presidential candidate of PNL is over. “I terribly regret that PNL is moving fast toward a collapse,” the former minister added. Furthermore, Tariceanu considers that the acting leaders of PNL have submitted their resignations, so they lost any legitimacy. In these conditions, he will challenge the legitimacy of some decisions made Monday by the Standing Delegation. He also criticised PNL’s decision to switch camps to the group of EPP and the move that prohibits political alliance with other parties of the Romanian political scene.
In the other camp, liberal senior Mircea Ionescu Quintus claims that Tariceanu makes error after error, which compromise his political career, referring to his decision of leaving PNL, returning later and the attempt to participate in the meeting of the Permanent Delegation. Quintus added that he befriends Tariceanu, but cannot accept “his unfriendliness toward the party.”
“I found it a lack of decency, of common sense to come uninvited and sit at the table with those who, for two months, endangered their positions, their integrity, made a huge effort in a very difficult fight with the party state, PSD, and you, who made a pact with the enemy, come and sit at the table with these people!” Ludovic Orban said, adding that Tariceanu is like the prodigal son who ran away from home on the back door and tries to return at night, through the cellar.
Antonescu continues to criticise PSD
From the position of interim leader of PNL, Crin Antonescu declared Monday evening that, out of all the parties, the liberals were the only who assumed the failure in the European elections, as both PSD and PMP obtained fewer votes than estimated, while the vote for Mircea Diaconu was against the system. Asked if he intends to run for president at the extraordinary congress of PNL, Antonescu avoided an answer: “I do not think about it now. I am interested that all preparations in view of the extraordinary congress are made in line with the Statute and the party overcomes a moment that has its difficulty.” The resigning leader of PDL claims that the honorary president of PSD, Ion Iliescu, was negatively influenced by the entourage of leaders like Liviu Dragnea, as he was affected himself in the past, which explains the statements in Iliescu called him “scoundrel” and “slacker,” in a statement granted Monday to ‘Gandul.’ In his turn, PM Victor Ponta had his share of criticism coming from the liberal leader, who said that Ponta and PSD are in a rapid degradation, because they did not allow their own MPs to speak before the vote for the no-confidence motion, which is without precedent even during the PDL governance.