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June 28, 2022

Fight over Bucharest sharpens between Udrea and opposition

Last thing: Liberals and Social-Democrats mount referendum banners in town.

Over a year ahead of the local election, the debates on the issues of the community seem more inflamed than in the actual electoral campaign preceding the election. At least in the capital, the battle going on between the power and the opposition around the organisation of the referendum on the abrogation of sectors as been heated up. In addition, another stake is supporting current Mayor Sorin Oprescu for a new term by PNL and PSD, to the dissatisfaction of the representatives of the Democrat-Liberal Party who want to win back the position last held through Adriean Videanu.

PSD and PNL have started a war with the PDL Bucharest leader, Elena Udrea, pitching a total of 60 tents and mounting banners with the inscription ‘Defend Bucharest from Elena Udrea. Sign for the referendum’ all over the city.

On Monday, PNL Bucharest President and District 1 Mayor Andrei Chiliman accused the Bucharest City Transport Regie (RATB) of destroying the street banners which had been duly authorised, blaming it for being Elena Udrea and PDL’s ‘servant’. Chiliman even filed a criminal complaint against RATB for abuse of power and criminal damage. In reply, RATB said that, in the absence of a request from PNL Bucharest for the lease of the poles managed by it, it had just dismantled the panels and banners abusively mounted by them. Also on Monday, PSD President Victor Ponta accused Udrea of using big funds to give credit to companies favoured by PDL, the real purpose being to spend it ‘on the election campaign’ in PDL. He added PSD would not pay a single penny to all those companies when it comes to power.

Yesterday, on her personal blog, Elena Udrea rejected Chiliman and Ponta’s accusations. ‘Last week I was writing that three men (Crin Antonescu, Cristian Popescu-Piedone and Andrei Chiliman) had joined forces to defend Bucharest from a woman. Today, a forth political Frankfurt joined in – Victor Ponta. They have even launched a resolution against me’, Udrea writes. She denies having been at the origin of the dismounting of the opposition’s banners. ‘Their strategy to attack me personally is risible (…). Their entire campaign is all about attacking a woman. I am not the mayor of Bucharest. They do not explain in any way how I could get my hands on the biggest budget in Bucharest, the one of District 1. And this is where they want to keep it, this is the stake of their battle’, the PDL Bucharest leader further notes on her blog.

Referendum, most likely at the end of may

Strictly about the subject of the referendum, yesterday the Conservative Mayor of District 4, Cristian Popescu Piedone met with General Mayor Sorin Oprescu to give him the draft on the organisation of the referendum prepared by the Social-Liberal Union (USL). Their proposal is that the referendum should have one question: if people agree or not with the administrative centralisation by transferring competence from the sector administrations to the municipality. ‘Under the law, if the draft is approved tomorrow (Wednesday – our note), the legal procedures will be set in motion and we can hold the referendum in 20 days. It means it may happen before mid-May,’ Piedone said yesterday, according to Mediafax. Chiliman (PNL) says he had gathered 100,000 signatures in support of the referendum.

Oprescu – favourite

USL also seems to have made its decision about the candidate it wants to endorse in the local election. Monday evening, Victor Ponta said on Realitatea TV that Sorin Oprescu might be supported for a new term as mayor of Bucharest if PSD Bucharest has no better candidate. He also noted that neither Andrei Chiliman nor Cristian Popescu Piedone were in that position. At the same time, Ponta said that, if that was the final decision of USL, PSD Bucharest, led by Marian Vanghelie (known for being not on the best of terms with Oprescu) would just have to comply, adding that Vanghelie still had the party’s support for a new term as mayor of Sector 5. Vanghelie, on the other hand, said that, as long as Oprescu is better rated in the opinion polls, he would support his candidacy. The latest poll, done by CCSB in January, says 70 per cent of the people of Bucharest are satisfied with the performance of the general mayor. According to the same opinion poll, 65 per cent are against the abrogation of sectors and 29 per cent are in favour.

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