The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is going through a major change imposed by the fact that it lost the presidential elections. Executive President Liviu Dragnea (photo L) came up with three proposals meant to limit the power of the office of county council chairman, pointing out that he is suggesting separating the political party office from the administrative office in what concerns the chairmen of county councils.
Dragnea’s first proposal was for the county council chairman to no longer be the head of the party’s county branch at the same time, at least in what concerns PSD. The second measure proposed by the Deputy Premier concerns the county council chairman’s quality of being the main credit release authority. “Let us establish by law the obligation for the county council chairman to no longer be the credit release authority; all executive prerogatives should be taken over by a public administrator. Along with county council members they decide, discuss and decide the county’s development policy, but when it comes to implementing it, to actually signing and allocating funds, this will be the public administrator’s job,” Dragnea stated. The third measure he proposes concerns limiting a mayor’s number of terms to two.
“I want to explain why we came out with this proposal and why I support it: what is seen on television these days but not only these days, represents the effect. A serious approach targets the causes. And we are discussing two things: there is the perception that too much power is concentrated in one office, namely the office of county council chairman – both political and administrative power. And, in my opinion, an opinion I back and which has an increasing number of backers, these two prerogatives have to be separated,” the Deputy Premier explained.
Marian Oprisan: “If we talk about this principle in a balanced manner we cannot talk only about some”
The first to react was Marian Oprisan, who asked for the decision on separating administrative from political prerogatives to be applied starting out with Victor Ponta and Liviu Dragnea. “The full principle is that if at county level the county council chairman can no longer be president of the party branch then the measure should be taken at national level: ministers should no longer be party vice presidents either, the deputy premier should no longer be executive party president, and the premier should no longer be party president. If we talk about this principle in a balanced manner we cannot talk only about some. This principle should operate from top down,” Marian Oprisan stated on Romania TV.
Gabriela Firea: “PSD reform project has backing of all MPs”
On Friday, PSD spokesperson Gabriela Firea stated that all PSD MPs “are alongside the party’s leadership, alongside Victor Ponta and Liviu Dragnea” in implementing this “modernization” project.
“The idea of separating administrative offices from party offices is a good one, it will contribute to eliminating from the public imagery the perception of barons. We are not talking about what is concrete in this perception, but about the way it influences the relationship with voters. We support carrying out this modernization project all the way through,” she said.
PSD Senator Daniel Savu: “This way we can get rid of this concept of baron.”
PSD Senator Daniel Savu stated that Victor Ponta and Liviu Dragnea’s PSD reform project enjoys the support of parliamentary groups and of the whole party. “The idea of separating administrative offices from party offices is essential in order to fundamentally change not only PSD but all political parties and the Romanian political stage. In this way we will be able to get rid of this concept of ‘baron,’ which means a mix between the political and the administrative, a fact that leads to the concentration of power at local level,” he said.
Catalin Ivan: We are making an embarrassment of ourselves
One of the most vocal opinions to the contrary was expressed by PSD District 1 branch president Catalin Ivan, who stated on Friday for stiripesurse.ro that Liviu Dragnea’s proposal is making “an embarrassment” of PSD. “I understand from Mr. Dragnea that we first lost the elections because of Ion Iliescu, then that Facebook played tricks on us and that is why we didn’t win more likes than Iohannis and we lost in the runoff. Now I understand that the chairmen of county councils, or the heads of party branches – it’s not very clear -, are the problem. Unfortunately, I believe that instead of looking at the election results with dignity, of drawing the conclusions and of carrying on, we are only making an embarrassment of ourselves. The problem was not the chairmen of county councils, far from it. Very big mistakes were made, individual mistakes in the strategic team around Victor Ponta and that is where we should look for the culprits, not somewhere else.”
Florin Tecau (PSD Arges): “Dragnea’s proposal cannot be implemented”
Arges County Council Chairman Florin Tecau does not believe that Liviu Dragnea’s proposals can be implemented in their current form and the leadership of PSD should consult local branches in what concerns the proposals on modernizing the party, Agerpres informs. “It has to be analyzed; there are a lot of aspects that have to be analyzed. As it is (Dragne’s proposal – editor’s note) now, it cannot be implemented. The statute states that any member can run for president. So in order to implement such a proposal you have to make a great deal of changes,” Tecau said.
Victor Ponta backed Liviu Dragnea’s idea and stated that this is applicable to everyone, “with no exceptions.” “Today we are talking about what we want to do in government in these two years. I believe it is a correct proposal and I believe it is applicable to everyone, with no exceptions. Of course, I’m not the exception. The new reform can be made only through collective effort. It concerns the future, you cannot apply something retroactively. It concerns me too,” he said. Asked what this reform means, Victor Ponta pointed out: “You’ll see in March.” According to stiripesurse.ro, the rumors within PSD are that Victor Ponta and Liviu Dragnea will have to choose between their positions within the party and those within the government in their turn too.
PSD’s youth revolt
Shortly before PSD President Victor Ponta announced who the new members of government will be there was a wave of discontent within PSD. Thus, 18 MPs wrote a letter in which they pointed out that the presidential elections have proven that respect for people, the independence of the judiciary and transparency in public affairs are extremely important principles for most Romanians, more important than economic and social measures. “Now the time has come to show that we have understood the message given by voters on November 16. The moment has come to show that we are capable, as a party, to change the way we act when governing. That we can build a new, more competent, honest and transparent government. A government with people over which there are no suspicions of corruption. People that had nothing to do with the Communist regime. People that have repeatedly proven their professional competence,” the letter addressed to Ponta reads. One of the signatories of the letter seems to be Ionut Vulpescu, who was proposed Culture Minister.
Ponta: Measures to reform the party will be applied from top to bottom, without exception
PSD’s Chairman, Victor Ponta said that the measures meant to reform the party will be applied “from top to bottom, without exception”. “The important thing is that we need to undertake this reform process and will discuss this matter also in March, at the congress, we shall take a decision. Applying this measure only at the local level? There is no such thing. A rule is always applied from top to bottom, without exception,” Victor Ponta said on Sunday at the Parliament Palace before the meeting of the PSD National Executive Committee, when asked to comment on the measures proposed by PSD Executive Chairman Liviu Dragnea. Victor Ponta on Saturday voiced support for the proposal made by Liviu Dragnea; the PSD executive leader said that the administrative positions, such as county council chair, should be separated from the political positions such as county organisation leader. Ponta added that this rule should be applied without exception among the Social Democrat leaders, including him.
Liviu Dragnea’s name in Alina Bica’s new corruption case
Alina Bica, the former head of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), has allegedly been arraigned in court in a new criminal case split from the retrocession case. The information was revealed on Sunday by Robert Turcescu, the former journalist who announced before the first round of presidential elections that he will withdraw from public life, confessing that he was an undercover officer. According to the document presented by Turcescu on his blog, Bica allegedly received a EUR 3.5 M bribe from businessman Ioan Niculae through Liviu Dragnea. The document is dated December 2014 and is authored by the National Anticorruption Directorate’s (DNA) anti-corruption department.Asked to comment on these allegations regarding Dragnea’s involvement in Bica’s case, Ponta refused, saying he had not received any official information about this issue.