The ex-Social Democrat Party leader claims he promoted Victor Ponta within PSD “against the will of the party” and he appointed Ilie Sarbu as minister.
By Daniela Baragan
The war within PSD is far from over. Left virtually on his own against the majority backing PSD current leaders, Senate Speaker Mircea Geoana is refusing to surrender without a fight.
Indeed, the former Social-Democrat leader launched on Tuesday evening, during a talk-show, an unprecedented attack on the party leaders, targeted mainly at Victor Ponta and the leader of PSD senators, Ilie Sarbu (e.n. Ponta’s father-in-law). Geoana accuses the former of being about to compromise the Social-Liberal Union (USL)’s chances of winning the 2012 parliamentary elections as a consequence of his recent political actions (e.n. his attempt to have Geoana replaced from the helm of the Senate and to expel him from PSD). Furthermore, Geoana claims he put Ponta “on his feet,” promoting him within the party despite the will of the majority and he appointed Sarbu as minister (e.n. of Agriculture) only to have the latter “lie through his teeth” concerning an alleged meeting between Geoana and the leaders of the National Union for Romanian Progress (UNPR).
As regards the odds of his being expelled from the party, Mircea Geoana argued that “PSD’s and USL’s electoral capital will be affected if a major player is removed from the stage”, referring to the office of the Speaker of the Senate he is currently holding. “I am for half of the Romanian people, if not more, the main representative of the Romanian leftwing. And the polls show this. At national level, people are not yet aware Ponta is the party president,” the Social-Democrat argued.
Rather than waiting to see the steps PSD leaders will take in his case, Geoana makes his own “move”, writing a letter to the party’s National Executive Council, the body which, in his own opinion, can solve the situation in the Senate.
In this letter, Geoana is informing CEX members that PSD is not united and is going through “troubled waters”, warning that defections from the party will go on.
On the other hand, PSD Integrity Committee invited Geoana on Sunday in order to discuss this entire situation. In retort, Geoana said he hoped the Committee would lean over the pure facts, and would not be under orders.
Ponta threatens to resign
In the opposite camp, Victor Ponta threatens he will resign from the helm of PSD, arguing he will summon the Extraordinary Council (e.n. to secure the support needed for Geoana’s sanctioning and replacement) unless the National Standing Bureau (BPN)’s decision is enforced.
“I won’t go back on my decision. We’ll further pursue this project, having Geoana replaced with Corlatean and, as regards the situation within the party, I notified PSD’s Moral Probity Commission,” Ponta stated, quoted by HotNews, adding that he hoped to have the commission’s conclusions by the beginning of next week. According to Ponta, Geoana has lost PSD’s political backing and does not have, officially at least, the ruling coalition’s political backing either.
In turn, the PSD senators’ leader Ilie Sarbu argues Social-Democrats will not give up under any circumstances their project of replacing Geoana as Senate Speaker. When asked to comment on Geoana’s allegation that he was indebted to him for receiving the Agriculture Minister portfolio, Sarbu replied: “This man knows no limits, he is going from bad to worse, and I wish to remind him he became the Speaker of the Senate thanks to me (…). I was even publicly accused because I negotiated with president Basescu. I negotiated with him because I had the party’s mandate to do so and he was desperate, there was no going back, the party was calling on him to lead it to governance and would have taken anything at the time.”
Realignment of forces within PSD
While Geoana and Ponta launch attacks on one another, forces in PSD started realigning. Thus, the PSD Bacau leader Viorel Hrebenciuc announced yesterday that the organization he represents backs the PSD leaders’ decision to have Mircea Geoana replaced from the helm of the Senate and believes the latter should be called to account for his recent actions. Senator Miron Mitrea made a similar point, arguing that the action to have Geoana replaced with Corlatean is a legitimate one, even if the manner of carrying it out may be somewhat “unskilled”. He argued that, according to the Constitutional Court ruling, the political group which nominated the Speaker of a Chamber is the only body which can decide to recall and replace the said Speaker.
In her turn, former education minister Ecaterina Andronescu urged that “any disputes” come to a halt in the party, outlining that Romania’s population has different expectations of the Social-Democrat grouping. Mediafax reports that Andronescu was among the five Social-Democrat senators who abstained from the PSD legislative group Monday’s vote on Mircea Geoana being replaced as Senate Speaker.
Social-Democrat mayors from Dolj side with Geoana, some of them even sending him a letter of support. “We call on Victor Ponta to urgently stop fighting against Mircea Geoana (…) who is, according to opinion polls, regarded by the public as the second most trusted PSD leader. (…) A decision to exclude Mircea Geoana from PSD equates with the decision to have us excluded,” reads the letter concerned.
Despite the PSD legislative group’s original intention to carry on their action, the Senate session yesterday began without the Social-Democrat MPs putting the Senate speaker’s replacement on the session agenda. According to Senate Deputy Speaker Ion Chelaru of the PSD, the National Standing Bureau will convene into session to reach a decision early next week.
Basescu, Oprescu: “no comment”
Traian Basescu ducked answering questions about how the Geoana ‘episode” would end, namely whether he would be replaced as Senate speaker, the president only saying it is not up top him, but Parliament to have its say on the matter at stake. In his turn, Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu, a former Social-Democrat, would not speculate on it either, only saying that “time will tell if it <the PSD decision> was good or bad,”Kelemen Hunor, President of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), said that the Union would only take a decision on the timeliness for nominating a Senate speaker after the PSD took a definite decision in Mircea Geoana’s case. Referring to PSD’s move Monday, he called it a “bit chaotic”: “Yesterday, they told him: ‘Take off your clothes’, today they said: ‘Put them on’, the UDMR leader said.