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March 29, 2023

Post-electoral concerns

The post-electoral period we are witnessing now is far from quiet. Talks on the 2010 budget have grabbed media attention, overshadowing internal rows in parliament-represented parties.

This still-simmering disputes nonetheless could lead to dramatic changes in leadership structures and the parties’ short and medium-run political approach.

The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is not a tranquil place by any means. Almost everybody wants a party congress in spring aimed at reforming the party, whatever that means.

Even President Mircea Geoana looks forward to it, in the hope the delicate moment of lost presidential elections will be brushed off and he will be elected for a second term. He is however the focus of attention by several ‘power poles’ in the party, each of them unhappy about the party staying in the opposition. Miron Mitrea, the party’s former general secretary, is the most vocal of them all, his seeking to take the party reins into his hands known all too well by now.

More diplomatic, Ion Iliescu and Adrian Nastase make their presence felt while standing in the shadow, while Liviu Dragnea’s intentions are still a guess.

Former foreign minister Cristian Diaconescu also emerged into the spotlight, not ruling out in an interview his likelihood to stand for PSD president. Even if, the next day he specified he was read wrong, his potential candidacy remains stamped into the public conscience. Adding to the aforesaid are other local or central Social-Democrat leaders, of whom Marian Vanghelie is the classic example, whose interests will eventually influence the vote for the next president of this party. Though there is still time for ‘decanting’ and sketching intentions, infighting has already begun even if all too few elements tied to it emerge. And a fierce fighting will be!

No quiet on the Democratic Liberal Party (PDL) front either. Traian Basescu winning the presidential election and the party staying in power are not reason enough to reduce discontented voiced to silence, even if the majority only vent their disapproval off the record. After all, hardly could everything be perfect in a party so heterogeneous as PDL is, where President Basescu is the only unifying factor. Emil Boc’s nomination for premier was not to everybody’s liking. It appears some of the branches staunchly opposed it, yet they had to swallow it nonetheless. Then came the Gabriel Oprea ‘issue’, a former Social-Democrat ‘baron’, leader of the group of independent legislators, allied with PDL.

For his realistic approach…, Oprea was rewarded with the defense minister’s post. A close friend of Oprea being named interim prefect in Ilfov County also sparked vocal protests from the party’s local branch. Honorius Prigoana being the PDL’s candidate for Bucharest’s College 1 was met with similar passion. EMP Cristian Preda is the standard bearer of the discontented in the party, who says that Honorius Prigoana, the son of businessman, PDL member and staunch Traian Basescu supporter Silviu Prigoana, and party reform don’t match. Preda goes even further, accusing the party’s president and Romania’s PM, Emil Boc, of yielding to party oligarchization – with direct reference to Vasile Blaga, Radu Berceanu and Adriean Videanu – who make and break anything just about anything in the party. Vasile Blaga invited Mr. Preda to voice his discontent at the party congress.

Preda also being a member of the European Parliament makes it easier for him to be a critical voice in a quiet ocean, and even to answer Boc’s ironic replies, including the latter’s reference to the critic’s inexperience on party matters. Theodor Stolojan and Sever Voinescu also make party reform proposals, however a lot less critical and all too cautious. A sort of ‘we want reform yet not to upset anybody’… PDL is also waiting for a congress to clear up the waters. How this will be done is yet to be seen.

The National Liberal Party (PNL) is no exception from the post-electoral syndrome. Some of its members are unhappy about the leadership’s refusal to join government alongside PDL and party president Crin Antonescu’s stand against the ruling power in general and Traian Basescu in particular. Meanwhile, some vocal voices make themselves heard, among which that of local leader Relu Fenechiu, who, on his blog, addressed President Traian Basescu and Premier Emil Boc, asking them to accept the party in the Executive. Fenechiu however had second thoughts about it, denying he would have sent such letter, denouncing it as a Democrat-Liberal fabrication. True or not, the case in point shows a portion of Liberals craving for power, with the opposition prospect for the next three years not exactly to their liking. Former premier Calin Popescu Tariceanu too, whom Traian Basescu had called for starting negotiations before the government was formed, joined the internal opposition. Given the circumstances, the future looks shaky for Crin Antonescu. On the other hand, his unseating is no guarantee for the goal being reached. Hence, the hesitations showed by others too.

Finally, not even the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) is spared internal turmoil either. Its leaders however are more concerned now with how to re-instate their people at the helm of decentralized services than anything else, to the displeasure of its Democrat-Liberal allies. How long will UDM leaders insist on the subject? Further more, having met with the UDMR leaders at the Transylvanian Magyars’ Coordinating Forum, the president of the National Council of Magyars in Transylvania (CNMT), EMP Laszlo Tokes, last week criticized the Union for being ‘much too subservient to PDL’. Tokes complained about UDMR’s failure to consult the CNMT over the presidential election or the Union joining government, both of which are seen as a losing bet.

Fortunately, 2010 is not an electoral year. It will however be a year full of surprises for parliamentary parties, or most of them anyway. Congresses, national conferences, you name it – all eagerly awaited for wrangling and settling of accounts.

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