Ponta said that he considers Tariceanu as a strong presidential candidate. On the other hand, PNL leader Crin Antonescu says that he is not scared by the departure of the former premier from the party, nor by his possible decision to run in the presidential elections.
Senator Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who freshly resigned from the National Liberal Party, announced in a televised show on Wednesday night that he will set up a new Liberal formation to be called the Reformist Liberal Party, after having come to the conclusion that the ruptured Social Liberal Union (USL) needs a Liberal component.
‘I know that there is a public engagement of Prime Minister Victor Ponta to rebuild the USL based on the initial commitments of the two partners. It is my belief that USL also needs a substantial Liberal component. And I am sure that after I announce my decision tomorrow (yesterday), to set up a new Liberal political formation, it will attract people not only from PNL, unhappy with how things are going, but also new entrants, young and skilled, competent people who are sensible of the problems of the citizens”, Tariceanu said, quoted by Agerpres, mentioned that he wants this party to be a good home for those who believe in Liberal values.
On the other hand, the former Prime Minister voiced his interest in running in the presidential elections. ‘I am not interested in any vice prime minister or Senate chairman position. For a former prime minister, it would be ludicrous to settle for less (…) I might want more,’ Tariceanu said.
PM Ponta: I wish Mr. Tariceanu, other competent people in his new party be part of new Gov’t
Prime Minister Victor Ponta told Antena 3 that he is willing to offer former Prime Minister Tariceanu and other members of his new party positions within the Government.
‘(…) If there is a significant group of parliamentarians who have been with us until last night, so they do not show up from somewhere else in the world, they have been working alongside us until last night, they have supported our projects, I obviously wish they would support the Government, be represented and I am convinced that even a Liberal ideological presence is good for the Government,’ Ponta said. However, the head of Government pointed out that Tariceanu requested him no position in the Government, although he wishes the former PM be part of his team.
Instead, Ponta said that he considers Tariceanu a strong presidential candidate, alongside other three potential aspirants for the office, as opinion polls also show. The Premier also pointed out that the formula he is contemplating is to restore the broken up USL with a single presidential candidate. ‘(…) as we signed and voted for, we will support a Liberal candidate for Presidency, but it is important that the Liberal candidate too wants USL to through its support behind him, because that’s what we promised the people (…),’ Ponta said.
Antonescu is not afraid of Tariceanu
PNL leader Crin Antonescu does not seem upset by the fact that the former president of the party, also a former prime minister, resigned from PNL. On the contrary, he treated the matter with irony. Asked to comment Tariceanu’s intention to form the Liberal Reformer Party and the role of this party in the electoral year 2014, Antonescu answered: “It is an embarrassing, appalling situation and this so-called party will have no role.” In his opinion, USL cannot go on with the party to be formed by Tariceanu: “This party (…) might be to PC what PC is to PNL and it could be there, at USD, the Reformer USD it could be, but not USL.” He added that the announcement made by PM Ponta about offering places in the government to the liberals that will leave with Tariceanu is “an attempt at political bribery.” He explained that PNL presently is an adversary not only to Victor Ponta, PSD and the associates, as it is “equally an adversary, and is and will be hit” also by Traian Basescu and his associates.
Despite the tensions caused inside the party by the decision to take PNL out of the government, the breaking of USL and the departure of Tariceanu and other liberals from the party, Antonescu said that, as far as he is concerned, there is no reason to call an extraordinary congress of PNL before the European elections in May. He also declared himself convinced by the fact that there is no danger of a split or a significant rupture in PNL, following the resignation of Tariceanu. “Yes, there might be several members of the Parliament (that will leave) out of a total 150, this is always a possibility,” the PNL president mentioned. Referring to the rumours about former ministers Radu Stroe and Daniel Chitoiu possibly leaving the party, he said that he does not expect this to happen. “Certainly, after Mr. Tariceanu’s adventures I am cannot say about anyone that it is impossible (to leave the party), but I personally have no reason to believe that Mr. Stroe wants to leave the party after 24 years.”
The previous day, Antonescu had announced that the intention of Calin Popescu Tariceanu to create a new party is a deja-vu for PNL, similar to what Theodor Stolojan and Valeriu Stoica did in the past, when they moved to a different zone of power after defecting from the party.
“Today Mr. Tariceanu and his political sponsors are trying the same coup against PNL. I honestly tell you that PNL rarely has been in such a moment of unity and determination, of political motivation,” Antonescu stated in a phone conversation with Realitatea TV. He considers that PNL has proved that it is a untied party, through the decisions it made and the statements delivered by its leaders, so Tariceanu is alone in his initiative.
Speaking about his intention to run for president of Romania, Antonescu added that he has “no doubt” about the fact that PSD will not support Tariceanu in a presidential race. In his opinion, Ponta would make a stronger presidential candidate than Tariceanu, as he is “a more powerful and resourceful politician” than the former liberal leader.
PNL between departures and shield around Antonescu
Tariceanu leaving PNL could be followed by others. By now, only Sibiu senator Sorin Iliesiu, freshly removed from PNL, announced he will join the Liberal Reforming Party to be created by former liberal leader. “We had talks with Calin Tariceanu in this respect both last night (Wednesday night) and this morning (Thursday). He told me he got phone calls by 2 am from liberal colleagues, voicing their willingness to join. I think this is a good start, a good omen,” said Iliesiu yesterday. Inquired how he expects the situation to unfold over the period to come, the senator said a “very large number” of liberals will follow Tariceanu, voicing his conviction that the 25,000 signatures necessary to create a party will be gathered “in a record time,” and that “in a month at the most” the Reforming Liberal Party will be registered.
There are however leaders of organizations who criticize the decision of the former prime minister to defect from the party. Among these there is PNL Covasna head Marius Obreja, who says Tariceanu departure from the party makes him greatly disillusioned, and even stronger evidence that “principles in politics are so loose that they get mixed-up and turn into prostitution.” Obreja said that his party chairman, elected by status, is Crin Antonescu, and so long as he holds this position and will lead the party, he will enjoy his undivided support.
PNL Sibiu leader, deputy Mircea Cazan, believes Tariceanu will be followed “by five people at the most” out of the entire party, and the liberal Sibiu deputy Ion Tamaian says the former PM betrayed the party and that he might be followed only by several people who jump ship. “This is an ugly thing to when one betrays his party and even uglier is what Tariceanu did,” said Tamaian. According to him, a split within PNL is out of the question.
A little more sarcastic, PNL vice-chairman Horea Uioreanu, interim chairman of PNL Cluj, claims Tariceanu’s move to create a party, “a UNPR with a bowtie,” proves he loves political positions more than liberalism, and he believes the true liberals will not follow him.