PSD leader reportedly trying to get rid of predecessor’s men

Ahead of the opposition Social-Democrat Party’s congress this autumn, the party’s central leadership has reportedly begun to put things in order in territorial branches, imposing new local leaders, daily ‘Adevarul’ wrote in its yesterday edition. The move is seen as part of a wider plan of current PSD leader Victor Ponta to replace his predecessor Mircea Geoana’s men with his own.

At PSD Olt, for instance, the leader of local Social-Democrat senators, Ion Toma, one of Geoana’s allies, lost leadership of the organisation last week. He was replaced with the head of the Olt County Council, Paul Stanescu, who reportedly got the backing of PSD general secretary Liviu Dragnea himself, as some sources told the newspaper. But Stanescu denied having any support from the central leadership. “This is what the people decided, it was a fair competition,” he told ‘Adevarul.’

In Ilfov, Robert Negoita, party vice president, easily managed to take over leadership of the county organisation, being the only candidate and securing unanimous backing. Negoita thus replaces Marian Vanghelie, head of PSD Bucharest, who had been named by Geoana to handle to Ilfov branch as well. But shortly after Ponta became PSD leader earlier this year, Vanghelie was replaced as interim head of PSD Ilfov by Dragnea, who took under his command all branches with interim leaders.

Internal elections produced a new leader at PSD Calarasi as well – Deputy Oana Niculescu-Mizil, who defeated one of the party’s former ‘heavyweights,’ Doru Ioan Taracila for the job. Mizil was supported for the job by Dragnea. Another local leader, Suceava Council president Gavril Marza, was also replaced. His successor is Catalin Nechifor, one of the young social democrats that rose to prominence together with Ponta. Marza, one of the so-called ‘local barons’ who maintained leadership of PSD Suceava in the last ten years, gave up running for a new term, saying that “it was time for younger generations to take over the political battle.”

Two notable exceptions are mentioned by ‘Adevarul’ – PSD Bacau leader Viorel Hrebenciuc and Iasi leader Gheorghe Nichita. While the latter is a declared supporter of Geoana, things are not that clear with Hrebenciuc, known to be the chief strategist and ‘brain’ of the party, who still enjoys a great deal of influence both in the party and on the political stage. Hrebenciuc, leader of PSD Bacau for over ten years, was unanimously re-elected recently. Vanghelie, who is also one of Geoana’s sternest allies, has so far managed to remain head of PSD Bucharest, despite speculations that the new leadership wants to push him away, the newspaper notes.

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