First deputy-chairperson of the National Liberal Party (PNL), Alina Gorghiu has been elected on Thursday as president of the old PNL, being to be co-chairperson of the new PNL. The decision was taken by the National Political Bureau of the old PNL with 48 votes, after Klaus Iohannis has gave up his mandate of leader of this political formation and announced his resignation from the party, as a result of his being elected President of Romania in the November 16 runoff. Alina Gorghiu will be interim chairperson until the 2017 Congress.
For the old PNL’s chairmanship also ran the first-deputy chairman Ludovic Orban, who got 27 votes.
Alina Gorghiu, Klaus Iohannis’ ace in the sleeve for PNL leadership
When everybody expected that the finals of the match for PNL leadership would feature Teodor Atanasiu (who benefited of Klaus Iohannis’ support) and Ludovic Orban (the favourite of the “Crin Antonescu” wing of the party), a big surprise appeared on Wednesday evening. Teodor Atanasiu left the game, announcing that he quits the election in order to offer the seat to party spokesperson Alina Gorghiu.
On Wednesday evening, after Klaus Iohannis’ meeting with the heads of local branches, destined to prepare the Thursday meeting of the Permanent Bureau that would include the ballot for the new President of the Liberal party, Alina Gorghiu declared on Wednesday evening, at the TV show “Power Games” hosted by Rares Bogdan that the announcement of her candidacy for PNL presidency was a surprise to many of her colleagues and that she benefited both of the support of Romania’s newly elected President Klaus Iohannis, and by that of PNL honorary president Mircea Ionescu Quintus. Moreover, Gorghiu confessed to Ludovic Orban, who attended the same TV show, that she was envious for him benefiting of Crin Antonescu’s support.
Ludovic Orban: Competition does not scare me; it stimulates me!
PNL Vice-President Ludovic Orban declared in a telephone intervention for the TV show “Power Games” that he was not surprised by Alina Gorghiu’s candidacy to the PNL leadership, mentioning that competition, from his point of view, is a stimulant. Orban also mentioned that, if he was to be elected leader of PNL, he would guarantee that the party would closely collaborate with Klaus Iohannis, to support his presidential agenda. “Teodor Atanasiu left the race and Alina Gorghiu entered it. I am not utterly surprised, as I know Alina Gorghiu very well ever since she got involved in the life of the party, we worked very well together in the communication department and I actually supported her at the PNL Congress for the position of Vice-President. Therefore, competition does not scare me, it stimulates me; it helps us present better projects. I am happy we are in competition, as competitions are made to strengthen connections inside PNL. We will continue working together in PNL”, Orban declared at “Power Games”. “If you study my political career, you will see that I was, I am and I will continue being a Liberal, I proudly carried the PNL. I proudly wore the blazon of PNL and I remained a member of the party both as a highly-positioned member and as a regular member. I want to tell you that I run for this position in order to win. If I am voted president of PNL, I guarantee that PNL will be a partner for Klaus Iohannis, so that he can complete the plans on his presidential agenda. I will be the same fighter I always was and I want PNL as a fighter against political imposture. As for my legitimacy in the party, I always strived to justify it according to the rules of the party”, Orban also confessed.
Gorghiu: “A time for fundamental decisions”
Asked by her rival for PNL Presidency if she would have attended the race without Klaus Iohannis’ support, Gorghiu replied: “Klaus Iohannis supports this candidacy, just like Crin Antonescu supports yours, and I must confess I am envious about it. Perhaps I would have stood a chance as well if I announced my candidacy earlier. I do not think a candidacy depends on somebody’s support or lack thereof”, Alina Gorghiu stated. Under these circumstances, the PNL spokesperson pointed out that the first phone call she started after announcing her decision to run for PNL presidency was to PNL honorary president Mircea Ionescu Quintus, who congratulated her for her decision. “I want to confess you something. My first phone call was to President Quintus. I called him to ask for his opinion and his support, to ask him whether he could support a candidacy such as mine and I thank him for answering my call, despite of the late hour, to congratulate me for my option. It means a lot to me”, Alina Gorghiu added. On the other hand, Alina Gorghiu considers that the term of the interim president, regardless of identity, will be a time for fundamental decisions regarding the future of PNL and of right-wing politics in Romania. “I do not know if my candidacy surprises the audience; it certainly was no surprise to many of my colleagues. It is a decision I reached today, but I am thinking about it for a very long time and it was encouraged by many of my colleagues. The dialogue is very dynamic in this party, and many people advised me to go ahead with it. (…) I am aware of one thing: that the term of the interim president, regardless of his identity, will be a time for fundamental decisions on the future of PNL and of right-wing politics in Romania. There are many priorities and great projects that are much more important than who will the PNL interim of tomorrow be”, Alina Gorghiu also declared.
Te odor Atanasiu: Alina Gorghiu was the heart of the electoral campaign
Teodor Atanasiu declared that he quits the race for PNL presidency, pointing out that Alina Gorghiu is the one granted Klaus Iohannis’ support for this position. “I proposed my colleague Ludovic Orban to do the same, to let a young person explore the opportunity. I made a proposal, too; I proposed Alina Gorghiu, as she was the heart of the electoral campaign for presidency, the spokesperson of our party, who can gracefully represent us for the years to come”, Atanasiu declared. He mentioned that Orban “did not agree with him” and decided to “rival” Alina Gorghiu. “Instead, I am happy I managed to gain the support of the present president of PNL, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, for this candidacy. I requested him to tell us very clearly whether he would support Alina Gorghiu, the proposal I forwarded to him, considering that, initially, I was the one to run for this position benefitting of his support. He made it pretty clear to all of us that he would support her”, Atanasiu also revealed.
Crin Antonescu: The new president has enormous responsibilities for the 2016 elections
Former PNL president Crin Antonescu declared exclusively for “Power Games” that he was interested in the competition for the presidency of PNL, as former party leader and present Liberal Senator. He admitted his support to Ludovic Orban as president of the party and denied rumours that the competition between Orban and Gorghiu was actually a struggle between him and Iohannis. “You ask me whether I have an option. Yes, I do have an option, although I am not involved with a personal project. I am interested in what happens to PNL as a Senator and as an ex-President of this party. My greatest fear is whether this project will be a successful one or whether this new entity created by the merging of the two parties will take over (the new PNL, editor’s note), but I must confess that I do not care how much yellow and how much orange the new party includes”. The PNL ex-leader also explained that his preference for PNL presidency was Ludovic Orban, and wished to outline that the interim president would lead the party for two years, burdened by enormous responsibilities, such as the elections in 2016. “I have an option for Ludovic Orban, as I am not one of the leaders who refuse admitting to their preferences. (…) I have a quite strong reason for this choice, as I think that PNL has a very important decision to assume. We are talking about a president that would lead the party for two years and that would represent the party in two rounds of elections. I am interested that this union of the two parties would develop based on our principles. I do not agree that people such as Orban, Atanasiu, or anyone else would be set aside without concrete and strong reasons, and be disposed of because they have a history in politics. If we do this, let us be radical and go home definitively, not just quit running for party president”, Antonescu also declared.
The long-term stake of electing new PNL president: negotiating the fusion with Vasile Blaga
Political analyst Cristian Andrei points out in a short analysis for stiripesurse.ro what the long-term stakes of Klaus Iohannis’ successor at the leadership of the party are. In the expert’s opinion, the election of the new PNL leader must be made considering the merging with PDL and the ratio of forces between the next president and Vasile Blaga. “Today’s evolutions inside PNL continue this autumn’s events. They generate many discussions, as a reform of all political parties is imperatively demanded. Klaus Iohannis’ option for Alina Gorghiu is somehow an homage paid to the wider message of change sent by his voters. Nonetheless, we should not forget that the internal agenda of the older and newer PNL still includes the fusion, a complicated internal process. It is all about who will face Vasile Blaga for constructive discussions and to negotiate a smooth fusion of the parties, both notorious for massive vanities. Moreover, the new PNL Co-President has the chance to lead the most important political party of today’s Romania, according to opinion polls, in a symbolic tandem with Klaus Iohannis, and to prepare a valid alternative for the Government”, Cristian Andrei, an analyst of the Political Rating Agency concludes.