PNL-PDL efforts further focus on merger

Klaus Johannis, interim chairman of PNL, and Vasile Blaga, chairman of PDL, met again on Tuesday at the PNL headquarters on Kiseleff Boulevard to discuss the merger of the two parties. Former Liberal chairman Crin Antonescu also attended the round of discussions. The meeting was prompted by the decision reached late Monday by members of the Executive Council of PDL regarding the merger with PNL. After Monday’s session, Johannis and Blaga agreed that “a speedy merger” of the two parties is to be desired and a sole presidential candidate should be appointed before August 1. Sources inside PDL argue that the Liberal Democrats would be willing to name the merger party PNL. “People are enthusiastic about this merger and they all agree it needs to be carried out soon, but there is a technical downside. A merger would involve reaching agreements, a judges’ holiday. (…) We (editor’s note – at the center) have no qualms about accepting the PNL denomination, but we will see if it goes smoothly at local level as well.”
Ponta, the last individual politically dependent of Basescu, Antonescu says
The former Chair of PNL Crin Antonescu qualified Prime Minister Victor Ponta as an exponent of the establishment. Speaking on Realitatea TV on Monday evening, he explained that Ponta only respects the decisions of obscure power networks matter, not the popular vote.
“Yes, Mr. Ponta is an exponent of the system. (…) By this, I mean a man who has a mentality of disregarding the people’s vote, and only responding to decisions of semi-occult power networks; a mentality of seeing a conspiracy not controlled by one’s own people every time that an unfavorable event occurs,” said Antonescu, quoted by Agerpres. The former Liberal leader claimed that the PM is the last individual politically dependent of President Traian Basescu. “Mr. Traian Basescu concluded his political career before his term. Currently – it’s a very interesting thing, which somehow keeps Traian Basescu on stage, and will keep it until December – there is a single man dependent on Traian Basescu left in Romania: Victor Ponta; also, of course, Bogdan Teodorescu [unofficial counselor of Ponta], because if Mr. Basescu steps down tomorrow, Ponta will be lost, and Teodorescu will be dismissed,” Antonescu detailed. In this context, he pointed out that if the current interim Chair of PNL Klaus Johannis runs for President, the most important topic would involve countering a campaign depicting him as “a puppet of Basescu.”
On the other hand, PNL former Chairman said that he cannot say what kind of president Klaus Johannis would be, but he will support him if he decides to run in the presidential elections: “Given that I believe he can be a good prime minister, there’s fair chance he can be a good president. … I know Mr. Ponta well enough to realize what kind of president he would be and for this reason, I would give my backing to Mr. Johannis, or Mr. Predoiu [Democrat Liberal], on whom I’m not too keen.” Asked if he can guarantee that the incumbent interim PNL leader has no hidden connections with the system, Antonescu claimed that Johannis is different from Ponta “and no matter what kind of president he turns out to be, it’s worth trying something else than Ponta.” He claims his decision to step down from the presidential race was determined by the unwillingness to subject the party to a debate over his or Johannis’ presidential candidacy, discussions which had already started along PNL lines.
On a different topic, PDL first vice-chairman Catalin Predoiu warned that the absence of a political counterweight against PSD suggests a democracy deficit. If the next president is a Social-Democrat, “tycoons could set off an offense against the Justice system,” Predoiu said further. Given his previous experience as minister of Justice, he knows “exactly which internal and foreign ‘buttons’ to push to prevent such a development.”
PM: Political assaults like Antonescu’s belong to past
Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Tuesday qualified attacks by former Liberal leader Crin Antonescu as an obsolete kind of policy: “I think that we are in a stage where we must forget the things of the past, this way of politics, and we must build. From my point of view, after the elections for the European Parliament, Romania is in a position where we can build; we can enhance the good things in the economic growth. (…) This is the direction to follow. That kind of political assaults belongs to the past.” Ponta added that he is not afraid of incumbent interim Liberal head Klaus Johannis or Crin Antonescu, as regards the presidential elections later this year. “I am afraid of God, just like you are, I think,” said the Prime Minister.
Ponta stressed that PDL leader Vasile Blaga, whose party scored 12 percent in the EP elections, practically runs every County Council (CC) as a result of the merger with PNL, whereas PSD and PPDD are part of the opposition in most CCs. “(…) The political arena is balanced; there is a center-left alliance at Parliament and Government level, and there is Mr. Blaga at a local level. With his 12 percent, he practically runs every county council. There is a political balance, which is not a bad thing in the end,” Ponta said.

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