Powered by Max Banner Ads
The general elections cleared the waters. If until December 9 the electoral propaganda dominated the public agenda, after elections the victors make plans and the vanquished lick their wounds. Big plans for some, uncertain future for the others.But regardless of the number of votes they received, almost all political organisations must deal with their internal problems and define their leading structures for the near future. If in USL the co-presidents Victor Ponta and Crin Antonescu plan to reinforce their leading positions in their respective parties (PSD and PNL), the vanquished PDL should solve both the problem of its leadership and that regarding its actions against a majority that controls almost two thirds of the Parliament. Only 2013 is not an electoral year, and for the Democrat-Liberals time is running fast. On the horizon, 2014 will be the year of presidential elections, and it is clear that the party and its allies need a credible candidate, announced early enough to become known as an opponent to Crin Antonescu.
“I don’t know whether a Convention will really exist. I think there are some urgent matters now for the Democratic Liberal Party and the clearest emergency is about a presidential candidate. We keep saying that Antonescu is not good, but people wait for us to say whom we will oppose to Antonescu! A second emergency, if I may say so, is for us to get ready for the next electoral test, which is the test of European elections to be held next year,” PDL MEP Cristian Preda recently said.According to party sources, the National Steering Council is scheduled for February and will decide on holding a National Convention in May, when the leading positions will be awarded and the candidate will be nominated.In his turn, PDL secretary general Gheorghe Flutur said that “the CNC must be held on February 23, followed by the National Convention. If you ask me, I think it would be very healthy to have a congress that will appoint a leadership which will lead PDL at this moment, as the main opposition party in Romania.” However, things are anything but simple within PDL. The party heavyweights like Adriean Videanu, Vasile Blaga, Radu Berceanu, Elena Udrea a.s.o. are not willing to give up their top jobs, despite the negative results in the parliamentary elections. This was actually suggested by Cristian Preda: “<<We are the best. Who would replace us>> are phrases we already heard in the Steering College.” Preda adds that those who do not want to give up are trying to reinforce their positions and get reconfirmed either by a congress or via a “tacit agreement.”Acting party president Vasile Blaga is far from having enough popularity to politically revive PDL, both inside and outside the party. Thus, he is seen as the first to fall in May, if he does not succeed in shifting the current state of mind within the party.But who will replace him? Rumours speak about Elena Udrea, the favourite of President Traian Basescu. However, as Ms. Udrea only caught a place in Parliament after the redistribution process, one could say that she does not fare very well in terms of popularity, either. Other strong candidates are nowhere to be seen, and analysts consider that the years-long involvement of President Traian Basescu in the internal life of the party drastically reduced the chances of other political personalities gaining a prominence which the party would benefit from now. PDL has pretty much run out of fresh politicians, under the impact of the negative popularity accumulated by its former leaders and ministers, also influenced by the uncertain character of the ‘new wave’ – leaders like Cristian Preda, Sever Voinescu, Toader Paleologu a.o. It is thus no wonder that the list of potential presidential candidates is rather short. Almost self-proposed, the former premier Mihai Razvan Ungureanu, the leader of the Civic Force, recently urged the leaders of the former ARD to decide upon the candidate in the presidential elections of 2014. But Mr. Ungureanu is far from being a candidate with real chances, especially after his ‘grim’ results in elections. He is the target of ironical comments made by his very colleagues. Democrat-Liberal Toader Paleologu commented: “Many things are necessary, but few are likely to happen. I am convinced that the Civic Force has a very well-articulated point of view, and a very predictable one, I would add, about the presidential candidate. But the main problem is still in PDL…”The future is relatively uncertain for PDL which relies on the mistakes made by the Ponta government to return it to public attention. For now, waters are increasingly troubled within the party, as the tension between the old guard and the new generation increases.PDL might be reborn if the loss of the elections will determine the reforming of the party. Otherwise, after four years of opposition as a mini-party, and without Basescu to promote it, PDL risks leaving the political stage or becoming a party that can barely pass the 5 pc threshold granting the accession to Parliament.Coming to the Social-Democratic Party, things seem to be clearer. The easy victory of December 9 gives Victor Ponta a moral advantage against any internal opponents. PSD consolidated its position as the most important party, took the control of the most important ministries and also has the position of prime minister. In such conditions, the decisions that will be made the congress due for April 20 – most likely – will be in accord with the wishes of Victor Ponta and his supporters. There is talk about expelling Mircea Geoana (suspected of having attempted to negotiate with Traian Basescu over his nomination as premier, and dividing PSD), Marian Vanghelie and his faction.In the National Liberal Party, analysts expect leader Crin Antonescu will try to get rid of some inconvenient collaborators. Antonescu can barely stand the criticism and now he sees his dreams fulfil. Adriana Saftoiu’s expulsion from the Prahova branch of the party in December was only the beginning of “clarifications” inside PNL. Antonescu himself recommended journalists to wait for the New Year and then stay with the eyes set on the changes in PNL. One may expect that, in the upcoming convention of the party (which cannot be avoided), Crin Antonescu will get rid of the colleagues who criticised him, analysts consider. These are Andrei Chiliman (the Liberal mayor of Bucharest District 1), who repeatedly lashed out at Antonescu and his statements about the leaders of the EU, during the referendum for impeaching the president last summer; Vlad Moisescu, the former leader of the District 1 branch of PNL; Ludovic Orban, a former minister of Transport in the Tariceanu cabinet, another outspoken critic of Antonescu; even former Liberal PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, seen by many as an alternative to the acting president of the party, due to his positioning and prestige. However, according to party sources, the Liberals are not ready to part with Tariceanu. It is still to be seen if Crin Antonescu consolidated enough his position in the party to be able to order such measures, in his attempt to “tame” the party for good.Victors or vanquished, 2013 could be a very important year for the leaders of the main Romanian parties. They might reinforce their internal status, or give the first signs of weariness.