Ponta: I am not planning to run for president

“If the next president is center-left, the prime minister will have to be center-right,” says the PSD leader. The head of Government does not believe a censure motion would be successful.

PSD leader Victor Ponta stated late Sunday on Romania TV that he does not intend to run for president because he wishes to preserve his position at the helm of the Government. In his opinion, if the next president is center-left, like Sorin Oprescu (editor’s note – mayor of Bucharest) for instance, the prime minister will have to be center-right. When asked whether he would ever consider submitting his candidacy for the presidential elections, if opinion polls showed he was the Romanians’ first choice, the PSD leader replied, “I wish to remain prime minister and I want a president I can work with.” Likewise, when asked if he is preparing for the presidential elections, Ponta answered ‘no.’
The PM seemed optimistic about the scenario involving a censure motion filed against the new Government structure by the Opposition. “The motion should not be able to pass,” Ponta said, as cited by Mediafax, emphasizing he was referring to a program devised by USL that includes minority provisions and from which accomplished goals have been taken out.
The Prime Minister also commented on pardoning former international soccer player Gheorghe Popescu who has been sentenced to prison in the ‘Transfer’ case, pointing out he would pardon him, if he were the President of Romania. “The blind, stupid hatred of some commentators who believe everyone should go to prison disgusts me. What does the state stand to gain from Giga Popescu’s imprisonment? (…) I don’t know what the President will do. I know what I would do, if I were president – yes, I would pardon him.” Individual pardons can be granted if the person in question is at their first criminal offence, the damage has been recovered, and the society is grateful,” he explained.
Dragnea does not think highly of Geoana or Tariceanu’s candidatures
Deputy Prime Minister and PSD member Liviu Dragnea is of a different opinion. Late Sunday, he stated on B1 TV that he has been a long-time soccer fan, and as a human being, he would be in favor of pardoning Gica Popescu, but “as Deputy Prime Minister, under no circumstances would I support it.” He ventured to say President Traian Basescu will probably not pardon Popescu.
When asked whether or not Victor Ponta will run for president, Dragnea replied, “He has the best chances; I think he will have to run, but the decision is Victor Ponta’s, not mine or some other party member’s.” In his opinion, Ponta should not postpone making a decision regarding his candidacy for too long because of the electoral campaign. In addition, Dragnea mentioned he would not support Mircea Geoana’s presidential candidacy, because he believes Geoana’s moment was in 2009. The former PSD leader’s mistake back then was not visiting Sorin Ovidiu Vantu, but “his performance in the confrontation with Traian Basescu,” he explained. “There were countless discussions on vote fraud. Regardless of the exent of the fraud, if his performance had been better, it would have covered the gap,” Dragnea said. He noted the current situation is new, given that PSD is “hard-wired” to support Antonescu’s candidacy for president. “It will be difficult for PSD to support another party’s candidate. I find it hard to believe PSD could support Tariceanu.”
On a change of topic, the executive chairman of PSD said Relu Fenechiu, the Liberal for whom Crin Antonescu has expressed his support, was responsible for proposing to resume discussions on the Amnesty Law, currently in the Parliament, in October or November 2013 at a USL session. According to Dragnea, PSD does not wish to resume Parliamentary debates on the current version of a law that was met with such harsh criticism by the Opposition, media, and civil society.
“If the Ministry of Justice ever wants to submit the Amnesty and Pardoning Law for public debate, it would be an entirely different matter. But PSD will not support it in Parliament; this is what PSD and USD have decided,” Dragnea concluded.

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