During a TV show Sunday night, Economy Minister Varujan Vosganian said all those positions of minister-delegate gave the impression they had been invented just to deprive the Liberal ministers of some of their powers. PM Victor Ponta was quick to reply: if anyone is unhappy with the structure of the Government they can always leave, he said yesterday. ‘I know that we have discussed the structure of the Government in USL and it’s a good structure that I hope will function. If anyone is unhappy with the structure of the Government, no one is keeping them in by force. They can always leave. If any of the ministers is dissatisfied with what they do, no one is keeping them by force’, said the premier. PNL President Crin Antonescu also stepped in to say that no minister was being kept by force in the Government, indeed, but, in case of dissatisfaction, they should use the tools of a coalition Cabinet, as it is a team that uses ‘democratic and politically mature mechanisms’. ’No one is keeping anyone by force in a government but, reversely, a government is a team with a leader. The leader is the prime minister, but the Government is a team. When you also have a coalition government, in my opinion there are ways to make sure not necessarily that we are all happy, because it would be a difficult thing to achieve. The prime minister himself is often dissatisfied with things, but he doesn’t go home and he shouldn’t, but we must use those criteria, those democratic mechanisms specific for political maturity presupposed by a coalition government for the team to work headed by its leader and in its entirety’, Antonescu said. Also yesterday, Ponta said that, albeit in an alliance, PSD would still be the party that would be held accountable the most, being the biggest party in the ruling coalition and also the source of the prime minister. As a hint at current PNL inside frictions, the premier also thanked his PSD colleagues for being disciplined and shoring solidarity inside the party as well as for keeping any talks regarding positions and public offices private. The things ex-PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu said yesterday could also suggest a crack that may be developing in the ruling coalition. Speaking on the state budget, Tariceanu said he wanted the budget to include ‘steep’ reform measures that would not be possible to implement at another time. He also suggested that the authorities should have negotiated a deficit over 1 per cent with European officials.
Edginess and contention also in PNL
On the other hand, PNL leader Crin Antonescu seems not to have any more peace in his own party any more. Apart from Sector 1 Mayor Andrei Chiliman, there appear to be other voices in the party challenging Antonescu’s position, Ludovic Orban says. Asked if a reconciliation with Chiliman was still possible, Antonescu said it wasn’t. ‘There is no room for reconciliation. We are not two people who just had a fight one morning. This is a question of dignity for Andrei Chiliman if he wishes to be in a party led by a person as he described me’. The mayor of Sector 1, on his part, said it was a ‘false’ assumption that he was doing everything he could to quit PNL or to be ousted, noting that he did not believe he would be expelled from PNL, which is a party with ‘enough room to accommodate everybody’. PNL disaffection has also been voiced by Liberal MP Ludovic Orban in an interview for Romania libera daily, published yesterday. He says Antonescu ‘changed’ when he started to have power and confesses that there is pretty much discontent in PNL regarding the president of the party. ‘I can sense in many of my colleagues they are afraid to speak their mind or act as they would like to.’ Orban reminds in the context ‘there are two styles of leadership: by winning their trust or by fear’. EX-PNL President Calin Popescu Tariceanu, also perceived as Antonescu’s opponent’, said yesterday the election during the PNL Congress on February 22-23 should be nominal for the leading positions because the lists regulated by the current Statute do not allow any ‘voices of amplitude’ to assert themselves. He was asked whether he planed to stand for election as PNL president or for any other position at the Congress, but avoided giving an answer. The PNL Standing delegation sat in session yesterday to make a decision on the exclusion from the party of Baia Mare Mayor Catalin Chereches, as well as MP Octavian Bot. Crin Antonescu said yesterday that Chereches had been expelled from PNL and Bot had been handed down a warning. Dissatisfied with the outcome, PNL Vice President Cornel Popa resigned.