POLITICS

PSD leader Ponta tops opinion poll for the first time

The five most appreciated politicians in Romania at the moment are from the ranks of the opposition, an IMAS survey reveals.

For the first time in the last six months, Social-Democrat Party (PSD) leader Victor Ponta came out first in the ranking of most popular and appreciated politicians, in an opinion poll conducted by IMAS and ordered by daily ‘Adevarul.’ Ponta took a narrow one per cent lead on Liberal leader Crin Antonescu, who held the first spot from January until June.

According to the poll, in the section regarding people’s confidence in politicians, Ponta is rated 26.8 per cent, followed by Antonescu with 25.9 per cent. The following three positions are taken by leading opposition figures as well, as follows: former PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, former Liberal PM, at 17.6 per cent, Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana (Social-Democrat) at 17 per cent and former Defence Minister Teodor Melescanu (Liberal), at 14.9 per cent.

The following positions are taken by representatives of the current rule, with President Traian Basescu and leading Democrat Liberal Theodor Stolojan at 11.7 per cent each and PM Emil Boc at 10.9 per cent. He is followed by opposition Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, at 10.6 per cent and the ranking is closed by Deputy PM Marko Bela, at only 4.6 per cent.

As for voting intentions, PSD would win 33.7 per cent of votes if legislative elections were held next Sunday, the poll reveals. PNL would win 21.7 per cent, giving the two parties’ alliance, the Social Liberal Union, well over 50 per cent of votes. The currently ruling Democrat Liberals rank third, with 14.5 per cent. The survey also includes the so-called People’s Party, an organisation that OTV owner Dan Diaconescu planned to set up but whose registration was rejected by the court. Despite the fact that it does not actually exist, the People’s Party would scoop 9.7 per cent of the votes, according to the poll. The only other two cross the electoral threshold and make it into Parliament would be the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (6 per cent) and the Greater Romania Party (5.1 per cent).

This is the highest individual score reported by the PSD since the beginning of the year. In February, it was credited with 32.5 per cent of voting intentions, dropping to 25.2 per cent in April and then keeping a rising trend, according to daily ‘Adevarul.’ PNL however grew in the polls in the first three months, reaching a maximum of 27.8 per cent in March and then steadily dropping. PDL had minor oscillations every month, reaching a peak of 17.9 per cent in March and the minimum of 14.5 per cent in July.

The newspaper also notes that Antonescu and Ponta constantly ranked first in opinion polls, but until July, the Liberal leader was always ahead of his Social-Democrat counterpart. At the beginning of the year, Antonescu and Ponta were credited with 27.9 per cent and 25.2 per cent, respectively, while in February, when the Social Liberal Union was set up, they had 31.2 and 29.4 per cent, respectively. The two dropped steadily the following months and July was the first month when the dynamic changed: Antonescu continued to drop in popularity while Ponta grew to 26.8 per cent. The event most likely to have stopped Ponta’s drop is his move to oust PSD Bucharest leader Marian Vanghelie, according to the publication.

In the context, Realitatea.net reported that Ponta wants to use his rise in the polls to impose the image of a different kind of local leader within his party. According to the TV channel, Ponta is determined to put things in order at PSD Bucharest and is planning to organise a congress in November to demand Vanghelie’s exclusion from PSD. Several voices in PSD have recently demanded sanctions against Vanghelie, charging that he brings image problems to the party. Moreover, Vanghelie was accused of having close relations with the current rule, as his district 5 mayor’s office is running various joint projects with Democrat Liberal Elena Udrea’s Ministry of Tourism and Regional Development. Commenting on the report, however, Ponta denied any such plans, telling Mediafax that PSD’s next congress will be held only after next year’s legislative elections, unless something “unpredictable” happens.

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