USL on the brink of collapse

Antonescu, on Ponta: “It is indecent to still act as a political couple”. Last night, the two were expected to have a make-or-break meeting.

The leaders of the ruling coalition continue the series of accusations, casting a serious doubt over the political future of USL. If, until recently, the leaders of the two parties of the coalition succeeded in keeping their dissensions private, these days everything erupted in public, with the two calling each other “liar” and other names.
Tuesday evening, Antonescu was the first to publicly doubt the future of the coalition: “As we reached the point when we call each other a liar, while only one lies, not both, it is indecent to still pose as a political couple before the citizens, at least in terms of image. We work, meet and decide together, but we will no longer hold joint press conferences and press concerts,” Antonescu mentioned in a public statement delivered Tuesday evening. “I do not belong to the category of those politicians – like Traian Basescu or, I fear, Victor Ponta – who after lashing at each other in front of a whole country, dare to appear hand in hand again,” added the PNL leader, who asked that, from now on, the communication of USL with the citizens is made by a spokesperson of the alliance. PSD promptly retorted, not through the voice of the premier, but of PSD senator Mircea Geoana, the party’s former presidential candidate in 2009, who wants to also represent PSD in the presidential elections next year.
“The idea which Mr. Antonescu expressed yesterday, that from now on, USL speaks through a so-called spokesperson, seems deeply wrong to me. From both symbolic and political points of view, it practically represents speeding up a more severe fracture in USL,” Geoana said Wednesday. “If Crin Antonescu now  behaves this way with us and with Victor Ponta, imagine how he will behave if he goes to Cotroceni. (…) If he proposed a spokesperson for USL, he can also propose a new presidential candidate of USL, which might be an interesting solution,” Geoana ironically added. On the other hand, the PSD senator firmly rejected the proposal of PNL to jointly run in the European elections. “Each political force in Romania must test its strength in front of the electorate, in European elections, to see if PSD indeed achieves the score we have in polls, if the liberals, on their own, can fare decently, if the others of the present opposition will enjoy or not the appreciation of the Romanian electorate,” Geoana mentioned.
In his turn, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea (PSD) said Wednesday on RFI that the social-democrats disavow the attitude of the PNL leader. “I also informed Mr. Antonescu, yesterday evening, about the problems which pertain to him and which he must solve within the Social Liberal Union. Neither I, nor the premier or my social-democrat or conservative colleagues appreciate this manner of working, which was typical to the D.A. Alliance, of washing our dirty linen in public,” Zgonea said.
In his opinion, “someone who wants to be the president of the state and wants to change the model we had for the last 9-10 years,” which he characterised as a bad model, “cannot adopt a <divide et impera> kind of attitude.”
Last night, by the time Nine O’Clock went to print, the USL leadership was gathering for a crucial meeting, were Ponta and Antonescu were expected to try and appease their misunderstandings or part ways. Reacting to Antonescu’s statement, according to which “Ponta lost control”, Traian Basescu said last night that USL won’t break up.
Yet another failed meeting
After PNL’s proposal to appoint Rares Bogdan General Manager of public television was rejected Tuesday in the parliamentary plenum – vote which many members of PSD did not attend – leaders of the ruling coalition convened Wednesday in a special session to find a solution. However, when PM Ponta proposed that the government issue an Emergency Ordinance enabling the Joint Parliamentary Bureaus to appoint an interim Head of TVR was rejected by Liberals, the session ended without clear results, according to several sources cited by Mediafax. Prime Minister Ponta met with Antonescu earlier today but no conclusion was reached.
PNL leaders persist in their request for the parliamentary procedure to be carried out with regard to appointing an interim Head of TVR and insist on not going through with the initiative to merge the Romanian Peasant Museum with the Village Museum. Around lunchtime, PNL chairman Crin Antonescu and Dan Voiculescu, founding member of PC, met at USL headquarters to discuss the future of USL, according to the same sources.

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