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September 30, 2020

Disputes in PNL against the background of negotiations in USL

Senator Sorin Iliesiu advocates the replacement of Crin Antonescu with Calin Popescu Tariceanu as PNL leader.

The tensions that escalated inside USL these days moved to the camp of PNL, following a statement made by Senator Sorin Iliesiu, who came with the idea of replacing Crin Antonescu from the position of liberal leader with Calin Popescu Tariceanu. The proposal was made in the group meeting of PNL senators, as Iliesiu admitted that he has not discussed the matter with the former premier. The senator’s motivation was simple: “for more than a week, Romania is in a political crisis caused by the lack of the wish for a constructive dialogue,” mentioning that he finds “totally wrong” the idea that PNL leaves USL. Furthermore, he sees Tariceanu as a potential candidate for the presidential elections or the future candidate of USL for the office of prime minister. He added that his proposal is endorsed by “many colleagues” among the liberal senators, also that about the calling of a congress of PNL.
Late last evening, Iliesiu alleged in a new open letter to the members of PNL that a new argument to replace Crin Antonescu at the top of the party is that he will strike a political alliance with President Traian Basescu.
Against the background of these statements, political analyst Cosmin Gusa considers there is a possibility of a split of USL, in order to secure the existence of a comfortable majority that would allow Victor Ponta to stay in control of the government. “Mr. Chitoiu with problems at the DNA, together with Dan Radu Rusanu, together with Tariceanu and Stroe succeeded in gathering around them more than 16 county organisations, through their leaders. This gives them the safety to negotiate with Ponta more convenient governance in the absence of PNL, which is represented today by Crin Antonescu,” Gusa mentioned on Realitatea TV.
The PNL leadership displayed its solidarity with Crin Antonescu, expressing its support for the acting leader of the party. This is also the case of the liberal deputy of Arad, Mihaita Calimente, a member of the Permanent National Bureau of PNL, who said yesterday that Antonescu “enjoys unanimous support in the party” and “if someone believes he will cause an uprising in the party, he is wrong.”
“The person that demanded the replacing of Crin Antonescu does not prove to be very smart. It is stupid to demand something like this now. Antonescu enjoys unanimous support in the party and his position in USL is supported by all fellow liberals,” Calimente stated. He added that USL must be maintained in its current formula and PNL must stay in the government. The opinion is shared by the presidents of the PNL Arad organisation, Senator Ioan Cristina and Deputy Florin Ciurariu, who both said that there is no reason to replace Antonescu from the position of party leader and voiced their lack of support for this idea. Moreover, they believe that PNL and PSD must reach a “compromise” in order to maintain USL, but with the observance of the conditions set when the alliance was founded.
In his turn, Senator Sebastian Grapa, vice-president of PNL Brasov, considers that the problem of replacing the party leadership is out of question, at least now, because “the present leading team has a mandate to fulfill” and “the imperative of the moment” is preserving the USL. He considers that splitting USL is not a solution and the only viable solution is the observance of the protocol of the alliance, because “USL cannot exist without PNL.” Similar opinions were voiced yesterday by the presidents of the PNL organisations of Covasna and Cluj, who added that the liberals only request the USL accord to be respected.
The leader of PNL Mures, Ciprian Dobre, also vice-president of PNL  said: “Those who want the good of PNL should keep their opinions for discussions inside the party and nowhere else.”
I lay on table the position of PNL president, Antonescu says
Invited in a talk show on B1 TV, the PNL president said Monday evening that he will lay his position “on the table” of the party leadership during the BPN meeting due to be held yesterday evening, adding that his mandate has always been “on table” symbolically. Asked if he believes that the members of PNL would be willing to resign from public offices and accept leaving the government, Antonescu answered: “I am convinced that an overwhelming number of national leaders of PNL (…) are strong enough to do this. Why I say it? Because they have done it before.” “There currently is an extraordinary pressure from PSD and the government, as a whole, upon this PNL. There are pressures which this PNL will withstand and that will strengthen the party, because this is how it resisted during this entire period,” the liberal stated.
On the other hand, he voiced his displeasure at the public statements made by former premier Calin Popescu Tariceanu, who were prone to hampering the negotiations inside USL: “You go, discuss these things that are very important, perhaps decisive for the image and future of PNL, and someone from behind steps forward and says this is wrong, perhaps we should do like PSD, perhaps it would be better if we did not quarrel so much with Mr. Ponta and do as he wants.” Plus, he accused Tariceanu of attacking him “from the direction of PSD” during negotiations.
Iliesiu, replaced in the Culture Committee
The statements about possibly replacing Antonescu with Tariceanu as head of PNL were bad omen for senator Sorin Iliesiu, as he was replaced yesterday from the position of secretary of the Culture Committee, at the proposal of the leader of PNL senators, Puiu Hasotti, with liberal senator Varujan Vosganian. According to a request made his group leader, Iliesiu will continue to be a member of the Committee for the Romanians from Everywhere.

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