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January 16, 2021

Commotion within PSD ahead of Congress: Three leaders enter race, one of them quits, Dragnea still mulling over decision

Senators Daniel Savu and Serban Nicolae and Bucharest’s District 3 Mayor Robert Negoita have already clearly announced their decision to run for the leadership of the Social Democrat Party (PSD) on October 11, while Liviu Dragnea, the party’s leader at this moment, says he is yet to decide despite working on a programme for the party, a Mediafax analysis shows. In the meantine, after just one day, Negoita changed his mind and announced he would quit the race.

Liviu Dragnea wants to announce bid for PSD leadership in Teleorman

dragneaPSD Interim President Liviu Dragnea stated on Wednesday that he will announce his candidacy for the leadership of PSD on Sunday, at PSD Teleorman’s County Conference, within the party branch he is a member of and in the county he “loves.”
“I could say it’s no longer a question of “if” but of “when.” I will make the announcement on Sunday, at the County Conference in Teleorman. I believe this announcement has to be made within the party branch I was, am and will always be a member of and in the county I love very much,” Dragnea said.
Asked whether he was bothered by Robert Negoita’s decision to enter the race, Dragnea answered negatively, stating that “anyone is free to run in the party.” “Competition is usually good,” Dragnea added.
However, the PSD leader avoided making any comments on whether the manner in which Negoita announced his candidacy was appropriate. “I avoid analyzing and commenting on this,” Dragnea said.
Liviu Dragnea stated on Monday, at the end of the party’s Executive Committee meeting, that he cannot say whether he will run for the leadership of PSD but that he is working on a political programme.
Dragnea became the interim leader of PSD after Victor Ponta resigned from the position of party president, against the backdrop of his legal problems.
PSD’s Interim President’s appeal in the Referendum Fraud Case in which he was sentenced in the court of first instance to one year in jail, suspended sentence, will have its first court date on September 28.

Ever since he took over PSD’s interim leadership at the end of July, Liviu Dragnea has been evasive in his statements when it came to a possible candidacy at the party’s congress meeting this autumn. After the leader of PSD stated that he is still thinking whether to take this step or not, Dragnea announced on Monday, at the end of the National Executive Committee meeting in which the date of the congress meeting was set, that he is “writing” a programme for the party.
“In the following days I will finalize a possible political project for PSD and the goals that I think this party has to attain and if I come to the conclusion that I can contribute to attaining these goals then I will announce my candidacy with an easy heart. It’s a question of days,” Dragnea says.
Asked why he avoids giving a clear answer on this issue, PSD’s interim president stated that he is neither “a hypocrite, nor a child or a liar,” but that he wants to think very carefully about the project that he wants to propose to the party.
While Liviu Dragnea is postponing the announcement of his candidacy, three other Social-Democrats have already taken a decision. The first to do so was Senator Serban Nicolae. In an interview for gandul.info he stated that the party’s top position interests him: “Based on any criteria set by the colleagues justified to set the criteria and on any terms valid for all, yes (I will run).” He is yet to present his intention before his colleagues.
His announcement comes just two weeks after he suffered a severe defeat within PSD’s Senate group, where he ran for the position of group leader following Ilie Sarbu’s resignation. Seban Nicolae received only 12 votes from the Social-Democrat Senators, being defeated by Mihai Fifor who received 42.
Senator Daniel Savu, who is backed by PSD Prahova, has entered the race for the PSD leadership too. The announcement was made during the Prahova branch’s election conference which was attended by Liviu Dragnea. PSD’s interim president teased his colleague following the announcement. “I won’t take any more of your time because it’s late and I will take the liberty of speaking at the Congress; I will find myself in a serious competition with Mr. Daniel Savu, but I want to assure you of the full backing of the central leadership,” Dragnea told the Social-Democrats in Prahova. Subsequently, asked by journalists whether that statement meant the official announcement of his candidacy, Liviu Dragnea stated that he took Daniel Savu’s announcement for a joke and he joked in his turn too. “I took his statement for a joke, and I joked too. And yet, let’s not give too much importance to small jokes. (…) I do not afford playing around with my announcement, maybe others do but I don’t,” Dragnea said.
Savu was also the protagonist of another unusual moment at the National Executive Committee meeting on Monday, where he went prepared to discuss his candidacy with his party colleagues. After the meeting started Savu left the room, stating that the talks were focusing “on Mr. Victor Ponta’s situation,” not on the Congress, so he decided to leave the meeting as a result. Social-Democrat sources have nevertheless stated for Mediafax that Daniel Savu was asked to leave the room since only leaders from the party’s central structures were invited to attend the Executive Committee meeting, not simple MPs too, so Savu had no right to take part in the meeting.
Daniel Savu made another attempt to discuss his candidacy on Tuesday, when he arrived at the party’s headquarters. PSD sources told Mediafax that the Senator asked for a list of county branch leaders and their telephone numbers in order to contact them and ask for their support.
The most recent candidacy was announced by Robert Negoita, Bucharest’s District 3 Mayor. Negoita won the leadership of PSD’s Bucharest branch on September 10, with Liviu Dragnea’s support. Immediately after his victory, Robert Negoita expressed his support for Dragnea to become PSD President as soon as possible. “I propose a resolution on organizing a Congress in the first half of October, in order for Liviu Dragnea and the party leadership to gain legitimacy and for us to be able to prepare as seriously as possible for next year and for mobilizing the party,” Negoita said.
However, on Tuesday, in a move that came completely out of the blue for party leaders too, Negoita arrived at the PSD headquarters and announced his candidacy against the person who backed him less than two weeks before. In fact, Negoita’s move took Liviu Dragnea by surprise too, the two having a tense exchange the moment the District 3 Mayor arrived at the party headquarters. Robert Negoita asked the party’s interim president whether he could invite the journalists to the conference room in order to make a statement. Liviu Dragnea asked Negoita what the statement was about, adding that he “knows nothing” about any conference. “You can do what you want,” Dragnea told him, however he asked him for a private meeting. Robert Negoita repeated his question. “What is this circus?” Dragnea asked when journalists approached the two and started taking pictures. “Please, I want to talk something with you, I don’t understand what you want to do,” Dragnea told Negoita. “I want to make an announcement,” Negoita answered. PSD’s interim president and the District 3 Mayor had a private meeting for several minutes, after which Robert Negoita invited the journalists inside and Dragnea left the PSD headquarters.
According to Social-Democrat sources, Robert Negoita had not informed the party’s central leadership that he was about to hold a press conference. During the press conference Negoita in fact claimed that he had talked with Liviu Dragnea about his candidacy and Drangea had no objections. “I informed him I will run. It doesn’t bother him. We are colleagues, we respect each other and competition serves only to stimulate us,” Negoita said.
However, more surprises could appear in the race, considering that the deadline for the filing of candidacies is September 29. The elections will take place on October 11, through universal ballots, this being for the first time in PSD’s history when the party’s president is elected through direct vote by all party members, Mediafax points out in its analysis. After the party president is elected the rest of the members of the party’s Permanent National Bureau will be elected at the Congress meeting on October 18.
The new PSD President will thus succeed Victor Ponta, who led the party from 2010 to July this year when he announced his resignation shortly after he was indicted in the Turceni-Rovinari case.
Victor Ponta, arraigned last week, stated on numerous occasions that he will not run during this party congress meeting, however he did not rule out the option of returning at the helm of PSD after he solves his legal problems.

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