The Democrat-Liberal Party (PDL) has decided to break the local protocol it had signed with UNPR in view of the local elections in Bucharest, upset with the fact that Cristian Popescu Piedone, a mayor courted by UNPR, decided to run for the District 4 Mayoralty as a Social-Liberal Union (USL) candidate. PDL will thus nominate its own candidates in the local elections. In a sign of deteriorating relations, the two parties (in government) criticized each other after the decision was announced. The Democrat-Liberals’ big announcement was the nomination of Silviu Prigoana as their candidate for the Bucharest City Hall. Until recently Prigoana had been in open conflict with other party colleagues that sought to run for the City Hall, namely Cristian Preda and Toader Paleologu, members of the party’s “intellectual wing.” Paleologu nevertheless found a place on the list of PDL candidates in Bucharest, being nominated candidate for the District 1 Mayoralty. Preda however turned down the proposal to run for the District 4 Mayoralty. In District 3 and 6 the Democrat-Liberals stake on incumbent mayors Liviu Negoita and Cristian Poteras. “We held advanced talks with our colleagues from UNPR, PNTCD and PER, but as a consequence of the changes that took place within UNPR’s Bucharest branch we decided that the protocol we were supposed to sign today will no longer be signed, and the alliance we were about to form today will no longer be formed. (…) The protocol with UNPR was based on a formula of 4 mayors – 2 from PDL, 2 from UNPR. Given the changes that took place yesterday, PDL has decided that it is better for it to go it alone,” PDL Bucharest leader Elena Udrea announced on Saturday. She pointed out that PDL will nominate its own candidates in the other districts in the following days. “We will nominate our own candidates. You will find out about them in the following days.” Nevertheless, Udrea pointed out that the decision taken in Bucharest does not affect the relationship with UNPR within the ruling coalition and the two parties will remain loyal partners. Before Udrea’s announcement, UNPR leader Neculai Ontanu stated there are several important obstacles in the way of signing an agreement with PDL in Bucharest, complaining that the statements made by PDL leaders show “stammering and indecision” and that PDL is a party that has recently caused the impoverishment of the population through its policies. Elena Udrea promptly replied: “We didn’t hesitate, we didn’t stutter. No mayor has left from us, until yesterday (Friday – editor’s note) we remained as we had decided. Today’s decision is a consequence of what happened within UNPR’s branch, not PDL’s,” she said, referring to the Piedone incident. When told that she had presented Cristian Popescu Piedone as head of the PDL-UNPR alliance’s campaign in Bucharest last winter and Piedone has now decided to run for USL, Udrea answered: “That’s another reason why we had to change the agreement we initially had and to establish a new campaign staff and a new chief of campaign.”On Friday, Victor Ponta and Daniel Constantin announced that Cristian Popescu Piedone will run for the District 4 Mayoraly as an USL candidate and a member of the Conservative Party (PC). Piedone came out stating that he has always been a PC member and he will never betray the citizens of District 4. The Democrat-Liberals replied by saying that they expected this “sly move”, while UNPR stated that his move “takes down the USL lies” concerning UNPR’s pressures on local representatives. However, not all USL members see Piedone in a favourable light, especially after his betrayal last winter. Giani Dinu, President of PNL’s District 4 branch, pointed out that Piedone is a candidate nominated by the higher chain of command and PNL’s district branch will support him “as much as it can.”
Stray dogs and parking lots, Prigoana’s priorities
Silviu Prigoana stated on Saturday that if he wins the elections his priorities will consist of the stray dogs’ problem, citizen safety and parking lots, pointing out that these are issues that do not weigh down on the budgets and that can be solved in six months’ time. He pointed out that along with some NGOs he will conduct a “census” with the goal of removing stray dogs from Bucharest and “putting them in specially prepared areas.” Prigoana stated that parking lots exist but they are occupied by approximately 60,000 old cars abandoned in back alleys. He added that he will present his programme two weeks from now. In what concerns his conflict with PDL’s intellectuals, Prigoana admitted that he made a mistake when he talked about them, but underlined that he will not apologize because they were the ones that attacked him. “I won’t apologize for what I did, but I made a mistake. I shouldn’t have come out making public statements, even though I was attacked by PDL leaders,” he said, being quoted by Mediafax. Elena Udrea stated that Silviu Prigoana has all the chances of being voted in office, being an honest and competent family man that has proven he can do something in life. She added that the party did not consult President Basescu in what concerns the decision to nominate Prigoana. However, it seems Prigoana was not the first choice. Toader Paleologu revealed on Realitatea TV that PDL tried to convince Raed Arafat to run for the City Hall but he refused. Bucharest Mayor Sorin Oprescu stated that he is not afraid of the recently announced candidacy, pointing out that he has wished Prigoana success. In her turn, PSD Vice President Corina Cretu opined that nominating Silviu Prigoana in the race for the Bucharest City Hall saves Elena Udrea from an embarrassing defeat. Currently an MP, Prigoana stated in 2008 that the Bucharest City Hall does not interest him. His personal life, widely covered in the press, made him a colorful character long before he made a name for himself in politics. Prigoana remarried his current wife five times. He has founded five TV channels and an urban cleaning company.