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February 3, 2023

Ponta: “An electoral debate must include all 14 candidates”

Prime Minister Victor Ponta, the presidential candidate of the Social Democrat Party (PSD), said on Monday that the announcement made by the Public Policies Institute (IPP) according to which he was the only candidate who did not confirm his participation in an election debate, is a lie.
He also said he is willing to accept the challenge, if all 14 candidates attend the debate.
“I want to clarify one thing, beyond this announcement, which is a lie. I have just asked Mr. Tariceanu and he told me he has no intention of attending this debate. Mr. Iohannis gave no answer, so, it was a lie. But I want to make one thing clear. I said I’m going to attend the debate on condition that all the other candidates receive this invitation, because I respect all my opponents and all electors of these opponents, and for this reason, in the second round I will address also the voters of Mr. Dan Diaconescu, the voters of Mr. Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the voters of Mr. Hunor Kelemen and the voters of all the other candidates,” Victor Ponta said.
In his opinion, the presence of all candidates at the IPP debate, not only of those ranking from the first to sixth position in the opinion polls, is a proof of their self-respect and respect towards their electors.
“I’m willing to participate anytime provided all candidates attend the debate, because there is no difference among us, we are all candidates,” said the Premier.
Ponta expressed the same idea last Friday in Targoviste during an electoral rally, when asked if he will accept the proposal of the Public Policy Institute (IPP) to participate in a debate joining the six candidates ranked by polls at the top of the voting intentions.
“With all 14, yes. With the first six … in what order should that be? In alphabetical order? In order of the jersey numbers?” Ponta inquired.
He added that all the candidates in the electoral race should participate in the debate.
“If we guide ourselves by the polls, there is no need to hold elections any more, I am already the winner. Polls should have nothing to do here. There are 14 candidates, there’ll be two of us in the second round and then I think I’ll launch this invitation again. If there’s 14 of us now, we’ll all meet before the first round. If the one who makes it to the second round accepts, I think we should have four debates on the subjects I already announced: foreign policy, national security, economy, constitutional order,” Ponta said.
The PSD leader added that polls have only a relative value.
“I don’t know who to talk to and I don’t know who is best between a candidate who runs from the High Court, not to be caught [in a state of incompatibility] and one who doesn’t sit very well in the polls. There is a certain value, definitely a relative value, of the polls, but I don’t see how we can do otherwise,” Ponta said.
The Public Policy Institute invited the leading candidates in the presidential election to an electoral debate before the first round, according to a format used in other countries.
According to a release last Thursday, the IPP suggested that the debate be held today as of 19:00 hrs at the Palace of Parliament and that it should feature the leading six candidates based on the ranking of the voting intentions: Victor Ponta, Klaus Iohannis, Elena Udrea, Calin Popescu Tariceanu, Teodor Melescanu and Monica Macovei.

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