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March 25, 2023

Antonescu suspends party membership, ready to take over interim presidency

Economy Minister Daniel Chitoiu becomes temporary PNL President.

Yesterday was the last day that Traian Basescu spent at the Presidential Palace, at least until the July 29 referendum. As interim President, Crin Antonescu will no longer be able to exercise any of his prerogatives as Speaker of the Senate. On the other hand, he will be able to exercise some of the prerogatives of a Head of State. The PNL President suspended his party membership in order to be able to exercise his term as interim president. Economy Minister Daniel Chitoiu was appointed interim president of PNL. According to party sources quoted by Mediafax, Chitoiu was proposed by Antonescu himself, the other members of the Central Political Bureau being informed of the decision. The information was later on confirmed by Antonescu, who said that, at least until July 29, Chitoiu will also hold the position of USL co-president. The Central Political Bureau meeting was followed by a National Executive Council meeting. After the session, Antonescu said that the talks focused on organizational aspects related to the referendum July 29. According to Antonescu, National Liberal Party (PNL) Vice-President Relu Fenechiu will be the coordinator of the PNL campaign on the referendum over the impeachment of President Traian Basescu, seconded by General Secretary Eduard Hellvig, Deputy Dan Motreanu and District 6 Mayor Rares Manescu. In his turn, PNL interim president Daniel Chitoiu said that, at yesterday’s session, the Liberals set the campaign strategy to also be discussed with the PSD and the PC. He made the point that an electoral campaign strategy was set, along with a timetable of the actions the USL will carry out, as well as of rallies to be held in six-seven regions in the country, and in Bucharest as well. “Several details were established on this referendum. We are holding USL meetings this afternoon (yesterday) to pass the referendum campaign strategy,” Chitoiu said.

“Presidential elections have to take place quickly, in September”

Always an optimist, PNL President Crin Antonescu stated on Sunday evening that from his point of view the percentage of those that will vote for the dismissal of President Traian Basescu approaches 70 per cent. Nevertheless, he expressed his reticence about the data published by the press which shows a voter turnout of 80 per cent, underlining that this is a period of holidays. In case Basescu is dismissed at the referendum, Antonescu pointed out that the Presidential elections can no longer be merged with Parliamentary elections as USL’s representatives wanted. He pointed out that according to the Constitution presidential elections can be organized in three months’ time at most after the results of the referendum are known, namely in September. He also pointed out that early elections could not be organized even if all parties agree because the interim president cannot dissolve Parliament. In what concerns his announcement that he will retire from politics if Basescu is not dismissed at the July 29 referendum, Antonescu stated that he was not born “in the house of politics” and will not die in it either, currently “staying on rent.” “I was drafted like in the army, it’s a war I hope will end so that I can be discharged and I can mind my own business,” he stated, being quoted by realitatea.net. He pointed out that his gesture of retiring from politics if the referendum does not validate the dismissal would be an admission of the fact that he was unable to persuade Romanians of his sincere beliefs. Referring to the hypothesis of pardoning former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase (PSD), sentenced to two years in jail for corruption, Antonescu stated that pardoning Nastase prior to July 29 is out of the question. He pointed out that pardoning is not the prerogative of an interim president.In what concerns his participation in the campaign for the President’s dismissal, Antonescu stated that he will get involved as much as his new office (interim president – editor’s note) allows it. Asked what his relations with the heads of the intelligence services will be like, the Liberal answered that he has more confidence in George Maior, head of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), than in former PNL member Teodor Melescanu, head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE).On the other hand, the PNL President stated that his opponents’ attacks over the fact that he oversleeps no longer amuse or annoy him, confessing that he is a person that sleeps very little. “It never happened to me to have to be somewhere and to fail to show up. I was where I had to be and I believe everyone saw that I am always on time, whether we’re talking about meetings, plans, goals, political actions,” Antonescu pointed out, adding that as interim president he will no longer be able to enter such arguments.


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