Klaus Iohannis has until 21 December, when he is set to be sworn in as President of the country, to resign his office as President of the National Liberal Party (PNL). In fact, the Standing Bureau of PNL – the old wing, is meeting on Thursday, 18 December, to decide who will head the new PNL alongside Vasile Blaga.
The only known candidates for president of PNL are, for now, Teodor Atanasiu and Ludovic Orban (photo) , but it may well happen that other ‘suitors’ join the race on final lap.
One mentioned name is MP Dan Motreanu, who is credited with quite noticeable chances by some of his colleagues. Another possible candidate is PNL Secretary General, Marian Petrache, a man with a big influence in the party, also the campaign chief of President-elect Klaus Iohannis.
With the Standing Bureau meeting day getting closer, the fight sharpens between the two rival sides of the party.
Whilst in the last few months ex-PNL President Crin Antonescu has kept a low profile, preferring to watch developments from a distance, avoiding even being engaged in Klaus Iohannis’ campaign, this time it seems that he intends to make his presence known in the backstage games going on for the election of the new Liberal president.
He will reportedly attend the meeting on Thursday, for when he has prepared a series of attacks on the favourite candidate, Teodor Atanasiu. Antonescu’s relationship with Atanasiu is extremely tensed, as the ex-president of PNL thinks Atanasiu was one of the people who orchestrated the betrayal leading to his being unseated.
The former PNL leader could actually tip the scales in Ludovic Orban’s favour, thanks to his control and good relations with some of the party organisation leaders, PNL sources told Digi24.
Liberal Party sources say Antonescu has chosen his favourite tandem – Ludovic Orban and Rares Manescu. The ex-Senate speaker is convinced that Orban would be a better party president than Atanasiu and is determined to use all his influence to block the access of the Teodor Atanasiu – Marian Petrache tandem to the top of the new PNL. The two supported Klaus Iohannis and now expect a commensurate reward from the president-elect.
According to the same sources, Crin Antonescu is already advising his friends to back the former Transport minister to the detriment of Teodor Atanasiu, one of the people who put his hand to disembarking his as PNL president.
However, the favourite candidate, Senator Teodor Atanasiu, who headed the PNL organisation in Alba County for 21 years, said on Realitatea TV on Monday that he had been assured by Rares Manescu that he had his support.
PNL sources say that each of the two candidates who have joined the race so far – Atanasiu and Orban – are suggesting to their colleagues that they are in favour with K. Iohannis, hoping to improve their chances in that way. ‘A possible recommendation made by Klaus Iohannis will seriously vitiate the election of the PNL president ad interim, because many will fear having a different position. I am not sure he wants to do it, but many candidates are already bragging about having Iohannis’ endorsement. The game would be fair in PNL only if Iohannis does not step in’, Libertatea quotes PNL Senator Cristian Bodea as saying.
Orban, leader of Liberal group in Chamber of Deputies
Liberal Deputy Ludovic Orban on Tuesday made the announcement he will run for co-chairman of the new PNL .
“I’m going to run for this position for I believe that I am fully entitled to it,” Orban said, while also emphasizing his vast political experience.
Ludovic Orban has been elected as the leader of Liberal parliamentary group in Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday, after George Scutaru stepped down from that position, preparing to take over the portfolio of presidential adviser on national security issues in Klaus Iohannis’ presidential chancellery.