According to USL co-chairman Crin Antonescu, his criticisms on Prime Minister Ponta or the Union’s internal structure were not brought up for discussion at yesterday’s USL session by PSD leaders.
USL is moving forward, despite recent harsh statements and critiques by PNL representatives on fellow Social Democrat politicians.
“We are moving forward. Why split hairs?” Prime Minister Ponta said yesterday before the start of USL’s weekly session, as cited by Mediafax. When asked to comment on the recent sharp word exchanges, the Pm replied, “As far as I am concerned, I do not believe you have ever heard me, nor will you ever hear me criticize my colleagues in public.” Regarding Antonescu’s statement about the fact that he has not dropped in opinion polls, the Prime Minister said if this was the case, then everything is perfect. “If he is on the rise (Antonescu – editor’s note), it means we have all reached our goals. That is what I want. (…) I am not Mr. Antonescu’s campaign manager. I am only here to support all members of USL; we are the ones who will vote for him,” Ponta added.
The PM stated late Sunday evening that Crin Antonescu’s public appearance on Friday was “mind boggling” and no one understood a thing, neither the Social-Democrats nor the Liberals. “There is no tension between me and Antonescu. There is a tension of Antonescu related to his campaign, and I can see it in his public appearances on television, but he is not aiming the right person by aiming at me; I am supposed to help, not burden him,” Ponta said for Romania TV.
Asked if, nonetheless, he has any explanation for being the focus of recent statements made by the PNL leader, Ponta answered he was simultaneously a target for President Traian Basescu, Antonescu, Catalin Predoiu and Elena Udrea, because each presidential candidate attacks the government. “It is something which seems natural, up to a point,” Ponta added. However, the PM pointed out it was interesting that Antonescu “turned into DNA’s defender overnight,” and it surprised him, although it was probably a misunderstanding, since the independence of the justice system means exclusively brushing off Basescu and Macovei’s “sect”.
“Some advisor must have convinced him he would win votes by defending DNA against me. Like other pieces of advice, this too was wrong, I think, but it is his campaign strategy for presidential elections, not mine,” Ponta said, adding that according to some polls, Antonescu loses more votes as he attacks the Prime Minister, USL and the government. At the same time, he reiterated he would not make public reproaches to Antonescu or any other colleague of government.
Moreover, Ponta stated he does not intend to run for president next year, an idea made public for the first time by Antonescu, adding that he must want a change in USL’s candidates that would involve him: “For the last time, I am out of the question. If there is another PSD leader with better chances at the presidential elections than Antonescu, I would not know because I have never quantified something like this, sociologically speaking.”
Despite Victor Ponta’s amicable tone, waters are not exactly calm within USL, as Crin Antonescu stated yesterday with slight irony that the Union works “like all great loves” do, meaning with every new day, everything starts from the beginning. When asked to comment on PM Ponta’s statement saying the former’s public appearance on Friday had been “mind boggling”, the chairman of PNL gave a likewise ironic response: “Whose mind was boggled?” He also pointed out that the presidential polls alluded to by the Prime Minister are not the same as the polls he has seen: “Not everything we do is about polls.” In fact, the PNL leader maintained his admonishing tone with regard to his coalition partners, stating that governing does not equal “winning the bone”, as it does for Social-democrat Ilie Sarbu (PM Ponta’s father-in-law – editor’s note). Furthermore, Antonescu said there are “small discrepancies” within USL.
Honorary chairman of PSD Ion Iliescu does not seem concerned by the current situation of the Union, because even within a family the husband and wife “bicker” from time to time, and, in his opinion, these are not vital issued that could shatter USL.
Dragnea: Antonescu is making a serious decision to run on his own
Liviu Dragnea, the executive chairman of PSD, was not as amicable in his statements on B1 TV Sunday evening, saying that members of the Union should discuss Crin Antonescu’s criticisms on PM Victor Ponta and PSD, as well as major projects on the Union’s agenda, such as the Constitution, regionalization and decentralization. The Deputy Prime Minister believes USL must decide whether the protocol can still be upheld and if “there are more things that unite us rather than divide us,” adding that if things do not change, “USL would not work.” Furthermore, Dragnea claims he has watched Antonescu’s recent appearances and feels “it is becoming increasingly clear he has decided or is planning to make the serious decision of running on his own,” which “could be part of a plan”, “perhaps “someone advised him to run as a candidate of the right.” However, Antonescu dismisses this scenario: “I have no other plans; I respect the plans I have committed to before the citizens.”