Day of fire for the Social Democratic Party (PSD) on Wednesday, when the Executive Committee (CExN) met in session in order to vote on the leader replacing Victor Ponta as President of the party after his withdrawal – at least temporary – from the helm because of his justice issues. The 98 members of the Executive Committee have decided, through secret ballots, that PSD’s future interim president will be Liviu Dragnea. Dragnea, who defeated his counter-candidate Rovana Plumb with an overhelming majority of 65 votes to 18, will hold the position until November when the PSD Congress will decide who the party’s future president will be.
Victor Ponta left the meeting without voting. “I will vote when I get back… I have a meeting. I am absolutely convinced that PSD will be just as united after this meeting too. Whoever wins, Rovana or Liviu, I will work with them,” Victor Ponta said when leaving the meeting.
The vote has a very high stake as the result shows if Victor Ponta still has control over his party or will lose the rains in favour of Liviu Dragnea, knowing that Rovana Plumb is endorsed by Ponta and she, in turn, supports the prime-minister.
The main candidates in the competition for interim president of PSD were Liviu Dragnea – the political coordinator of the party who had the support of the majority of local leaders – and Rovana Plumb, President of the National Council, who was supported by Victor Ponta. In addition, news stations informed on Wednesday that Constanta PSD Senator Nicolae Moga had proposed ex-Education Minister Ecaterina Andronescu as acting president of the party but she declared that she didn’t want to candidate.
‘I say the party should win today’
In the last there days, Dragnea has obtained – at least verbally – the support of several local branches, especially from among the undecided ones, which makes the competition even tighter.
Liviu Dragnea reportedly said, during the CEx meeting that ‘all leaders are now being threatened by justice’, according to sources quoted by B1 TV. He also allegedly said that ‘PSD freed Romania of the Basescu regime and I am paying the price’, meaning his problems with the ‘Referendum’ criminal case.
Before the meeting, Liviu Dragnea said he didn’t know how Victor Ponta would vote but noted that ‘we will talk after CEx, I say the party should win today’. ‘It’s important that each of the colleagues who votes thinks about the stability of the party’, said PSD’s political coordinator, who also stressed that he was ‘a mediator’.
Dragnea announced on Tuesday, a day before the CExN meeting, that he would compete for the temporary presidency of the party with Rovana Plumb, President of PSD’s National Council. Dragnea’s decision to run is not against the new PSD Statute which specifies sanctions for the members who have criminal issues related to corruption. Asked on Tuesday about his one-year suspended sentence in the ‘referendum’ case for fraud during the referendum of 29 July 2012, which led to his resignation as Executive President of PSD, Liviu Dragnea says ‘the situation is special’. ‘The Referendum case was not about corruption. Our current situation is special. Special measures can be considered. We need to fight a very quick battle. In situations like this you bring to the leadership people with experience, who are able to win that battle’, Dragnea also said.
Prime-minister: ‘As long as I am PSD member I will back PSD’s leadership’
The CExN meeting started with a speech given by Premier Victor Ponta, who was president of PSD until he recently resigned on account of his legal problems. He asked his colleagues to continue to back him at the helm of the Government, promising them a government they will not be ashamed of.
“We will be a united party after today’s Executive Committee meeting too. I am convinced that we did and we will continue to do extraordinary things. I want us to carry through to the end a governance you have nothing to be ashamed of. As long as I am engaged in politics I will be a PSD member, and as long as I am a PSD member I will back PSD’s leadership. I want to ask you to continue to support me. 99 per cent of my efforts – and I am starting to be physically more fit – will focus on governance. Next year you will channel your efforts toward local and general elections. The biggest honour for me was to be PSD President and to tell you that we still have a lot of things to do together. I thank all members of the Executive Committee,” Victor Ponta stated at the meeting, being applauded by his colleagues.
Prior to that, Victor Ponta had stated that “PSD is not split into two camps, it is united and will be united after today’s vote too. The important thing is that we continue to be the top party, the country’s top political and electoral force, that we are in government, and I believe that when we draw the line it will be one of the country’s best governments.”
Marian Oprisan: “PSD will come out solid and strong”
Vrancea County Council Chairman Marian Oprisan praised the government when leaving the PSD meeting.
“We have a good government, Romanians have started to do better thanks to it. Today, PSD will come out solid and strong. PSD’s strength continues to reside in the sum of its valuable leaders both at local and central levels. (…) Following today’s meeting, PSD will remain a strong, solid and united party, a member of the government, a government that has made Romanians’ lives a bit better,” Marian Oprisan stated.
Robert Negoita: “The Rovana Plumb – Liviu Dragnea duo is important”
Bucharest’s District 3 Mayor and PSD Vice President Robert Negoita stated that Rovana Plumb “cannot hold all positions,” B1TV informs. Moreover, he pointed out that “the Rovana Plumb – Liviu Dragnea duo is important” and that the Labour Minister should remain only President of the party’s National Council, while the former Deputy Prime Minister should be PSD’s Interim President.