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Bucharest
August 1, 2021
EDITORIAL

The hesitations of those not strong enough

Rosca Stanescu did not succeed in breaking USL. It would have been impossible, if at least one of the parties did not firmly wish it. All the ‘happiness’ of the alliance so far, with endless appearances of the two leaders together and with statements of loyalty aired by the media was nothing more than a momentary political convergence, but it was enough for a common project that would last several years, same as CDR or the D.A. Alliance in the past. Conjecture and strategy, these are the only bonds of USL. Which are obviously fluctuant and subject to evolution.Thinking in terms of ‘affectivity’ (be it political) is just misleading. What does the current situation tell? The battle against Basescu got stable and the government has the whole ‘de facto’ power. The only unknown is the next president.

Opposition is in collapse and risks becoming even more fragmented than now. Inevitably, the two political actors of the power get ready for confrontation. But they still hesitate conceiving the next steps. The position of the premier is weaker than it seems. He still is at the beginning of a real power in the party and only takes profit now from an inevitable change of generations.But who truly stands in his support? When he was premier, Adrian Nastase imposed his own team. Who are the ‘premier’s people,’ capable to decide the future of the party? People who don’t have just administrative positions, but are also able to convince the public, to have popularity and political initiatives of impact. For now, only Liviu Dragnea is in the premier’s entourage with enough prestige. If, through an absurd twist of fate, Victor Ponta had to suddenly withdraw, Dragnea is the only capable to take control over the party. All others still need many confirmations, while those who already made a name for themselves did not have a real growth potential (Radu Mazare, Adrian Nastase, Titus Corlatean, for instance – either because they are blocked in circumscribed roles, or because their past is too controversial, or because they are plainly mediocre). The premier still has the accusation of plagiarism hanging above his head, although this is no longer a day-to-day fact, and attacks may restart anytime. The economic situation does not play for him, because the situation aggravates and his popularity can drop. Although he uses an improvised populism, in time he can not only convince, but also upset. These vulnerabilities are enough to make him feel not very sure of himself (despite appearances). For him, a blow dealt to the Liberal ally can become a useful ‘military exploit.’ But choosing the best moment is decisive. Premature, such hostility can prove counterproductive. But also a too long delay can lower the chances to reap its results.For the time being, the premier profits from the ambition of the Liberal president to succeed Traian Basescu. For this, he badly needs the benefits of the alliance with the Social-democrats. This is why he delays any reaction. And especially he discourages any regrouping of a ‘right-wing’ opposition in his own party. PSD can make more fragile the position of Crin Antonescu and can even conceive winning the presidential post with its own candidate. Such strategy is obviously risky, but we should not rule it out. Because a future cohabitation can pose enough problems in case of radical divergence. Why would Antonescu be a less troublesome adversary than Basescu? But if Victor Ponta can afford breaking easier, for the Liberal leader it is more complicate and not just from motives of presidential ambition. To invoke, like until now, the exigencies of the war against Basescu is unconvincing, another exigency is needed, more seductive for the public. A reaction of the ‘right’ against the ‘leftist drifts’ (referring to the status of property, as an example, or the fiscal policy) would be credible, but Antonescu’s authority in PNL strengthened by marginalising the stronger ‘Liberal’ options. Returning to the ‘right’ would mean to admit that Tariceanu, Orban or Chiliman were right. Let’s not forget that PSD broke another ruling alliance in the past (with a similar parity), with its eyes set on the presidential elections. Back then, Mircea Geoana believed that, by breaking away from PDL, he will take the place of Traian Basescu. It is true that, at that moment, it went in opposition, and now PNL has the first chance in this direction. However, the weakness of each of the two allies of today will make them hesitate even before continuing with stronger blows (some probably under the belt). Those who exerted the media lynching can continue anytime with other victims. It is just a matter of time. ‘The sins of the youth’ of USL can surface anytime.

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