The future of the Government headed by Victor Ponta rested upon the turn of a die a second time this year, on Tuesday, as the Opposition initiated a new no-confidence vote.
The motion, titled “Choose between Romania and Ponta, a compromised Premier. Sack Victor Ponta,” has been signed by 180 MPs and it needed 278 favourable votes in order to be approved, namely a majority of 50 per cent plus one. A total of 309 MPs were present for the vote in Parliament. PNL’s censure motion was rejected. It garnered 207 votes in favour and 8 against, many MPs having said they would be n the hall but would not vote either way. However, this time PNL managed to gather 13 votes more than for the summer no-confidence vote.
In their no-confidence motion, the Liberals claim that by being arraigned the Prime Minister compromises an entire nation and the leaders of UNPR and PSD, Gabriel Oprea and Liviu Dragnea respectively, are his “accomplices” if they continue to back him. They emphasize that by backing Victor Ponta the leaders of the ruling coalition will irredeemably destroy Romania’s image. The document will be debated and voted on Tuesday.
The Liberals have included in the text of the motion the reasons for which Victor Ponta has to leave, reiterating the fact that a Premier accused of forgery in private documents cannot sign Romania’s legislative acts and, at the same time, a Premier brought before judges for money laundering cannot manage the Romanians’ taxes and contributions.
The National Liberal Party (PNL) organised a support rally in the Izvor Park before the vote in Parliament. Although the PNL leaders had initially said there would be approximately 15,000 participants, only a few thousand actually came, probably also because of the dull rainy weather. Andreea Paul, Anca Boagiu, Costica Canacheu, Cristian Busoi and Teodor Atanasiu spoke and PNL co-presidents Alina Gorghiu and Vasile Blaga were speaking in Parliament about the same time.
As far as Victor Ponta is concerned, this was his forth no-confidence vote since he took over as prime-minister. He will remain in position until December 2016, when his term ends, except if he chooses to resign office.
Victor Ponta: ‘the opposition’s action of today is simply a political trick’
Prime-Minister Victor Ponta said, during the debates on PNL’s motion, that the opposition’s action was not criticising the work of the Government in any way, a performance that is praised also by President Klaus Iohannis, therefore the Liberals’ action is simply ‘a political trick’.
‘Apart from a range of affronts, invectives I have actually become used to, today, in front of you, there is absolutely no kind of criticism of this Government. Today, in front of you, there is absolutely no kind of opposition to the act of government and, of course, no solution in the unlikely event that this motion may be adopted. (…) The action of the opposition today is simply a political trick meant to say
According to the Prime-Minister, it was proven once again that the current Government needs to improve many things and that there is no alternative to it.
“I am far from saying that it is a perfect, ideal governing, contrariwise, there are many things that we should do better. There is no alternative today to the current government. There is the possibility, together with the Coalition and the Opposition, to govern better in the coming period for those who in 2012 put us here and voted for us to implement the USL [Social Liberal Union; defunct, made up of PSD, PNL and the Conservative Party] programme and never make an alliance with the PDL,” concluded Prime Minister Ponta.
As for the criticism contained in the text of the motion, that Victor Ponta should not be heading the Government because of his judicial case, the premier said there were in the Parliament hall senators and deputies from PNL who were either on trial or even convicted. ‘If you speak of principles applicable only to others, you should also apply them to you (…) If you support something, then you should support it all the way to the end’, Ponta said, replying to the Liberals’ ‘morality lessons’.
PM Victor Ponta said on Tuesday, during the PNL censure motion debates, that he had not signed any kind of agreement with state-owned companies and that any existing agreements had been between the lawyer Dan Sova and the head of AVAS at the time, Teodor Atanasiu, whose adviser was the current PNL leader Alina Gorghiu.
‘It says things on agreements. I have never signed any kind of agreement with any state-owned company. I know Mr. Sova did with companies in AVAS’ portfolio, an institution at the time headed by Teodor Atanasiu. So you now want me to resign because Atanasiu and Sova signed some agreements. Where is the logic?’ Ponta said during the debate on PNL’s censure motion.
The premier explained, ironically, that perhaps ex-AVAS head Teodor Atanasiu (PNL) ‘was wrongly advised’ by his adviser at the time, Alina Gorghiu, who was also a lawyer and ‘who knew very well what agreements with the state meant’.
‘If perhaps lawyer-adviser Gorghiu forgot these, I have this in front of me: ‘Never have I signed any contract with any state-owned company. I know that Mr Sova signed with some companies in the AVAS portfolio, then headed by [PNL’s] Teodor Atanasiu. So, you want me to resign because Mr Atanasiu and Mr Sova signed some contacts? What’s the point? Or maybe Mr Atanasiu was ill-advised by one of his female advisers who was also a lawyer and knew perfectly well what public contracts mean, or maybe Mrs lawyer adviser Gorghiu has forgotten. I have before me the following contracts: Gorghiu – Pop and Associates – AVAS, 25,000 euros plus Value-Added Tax (VAT); Gorghiu – Pop and Associates – AVAS, 10,000 euros plus VAT; Gorghiu- Pop and Associates – AVAS, 6,000 euros plus VAT. You are quite expensive, dear Mrs Gorghiu! Gorghiu – Pop and Associates – AVAS, 15,000 euros plus VAT; Gorghiu – Pop and Associates, 10,000 euros plus VAT,” Ponta said according to Agerpres.
Prime-Minister Victor Ponta was also ironical with the Liberals over their attitude on the leaders of the coalition whom they criticise, but try to convince them to vote for their censure motion, saying that Liviu Dragnea was ‘criminal’, that Oprea ‘betrays’, but they are both good if they support the motion.
‘President Dragnea is very good if he votes, if he can convince PSD to unseat the Government. If not, he is a criminal, a baron, someone who has been convicted of organising the referendum that you voted for and for which you also campaigned next to us’, said Ponta.
The same ironical message the premier had for PNL’s attempted to convince UNPR to support their motion.
‘Mr. Oprea is also a very reliable man if he betrays the Government. If not, he is a very mean person who betrays the national interest. And so on’, Ponta stressed in his address.
‘Betrayal and change, unfortunately, are a trademark of a party that in 2014 ran in election as representing ALDE and, Monday morning, woke up in EPP. From this point of view, you are in a very good company’, the PM added.
In his speech in Parliament, PM Victor Ponta also criticised UDMR for supporting the no-confidence vote, saying it’s ‘a logical fracture’ in the attitude of the Union leaders who have always rejected political immixture in justice, but the action of the opposition is ‘exactly the opposite’ to what UDMR has asserted’.
‘Even if UDMR has decided to support the motion, I respect their right to do so. However, I believe there is a logical fracture. UDMR has always been constant in combating the immixture of justice in politics and of politics in justice affairs. I think the text today is exactly the opposite to what you have always asserted’, said the premier during the debates on PNL’s censure motion.
Also, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said he has tried to do his best as head of the government, and proof to that are the economic and social results.
“I have tried to do my job as a prime minister the best I could and the results are visible. In 2015, after nine months, we are in positive territory and we might not have any deficit. We have continued to further increase economic growth since 2012 and investors are coming to Romania because we have cut the Value-Added Tax (VAT) and there are small business costs. Preserving competitiveness is important and the money so raised should be injected into the economy. The average pay and pensions have increased and so will the pay for doctors and teachers,” Ponta said Tuesday in a Facebook post.
Alina Gorghiu: ‘Victor Ponta lives in a different reality’
PNL co-president Alina Gorghiu said in Parliament on Tuesday that Victor Ponta ‘lives in a different reality’, ‘does not understand anything of what’s happening to him’ and told the MPs that they had a choice between being kept on their knees in the benches or living up to the expectations of the public, between Ponta and Romania.
‘After Mr. Victor Ponta’s intervention I can understand one thing, that he lives in a totally distinct reality, one of his own, no one else’s in Romania, and I also understand that he doesn’t understand anything of what’s happening to him. He is in a situation no one wants to be in, but he is the only person who refuses to admit to that’, Gorghiu said, answering the allegations of the PM.
She said that the PM had the support if 3 – 4 Romanians who were the leaders of the ruling parties and that they mistake national interest for personal interest.
‘I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the prime-minister still has some 3 – 4 Romanian citizens who support him. The bad news is that they happen to be the leaders of the ruling parties. The even worse news is that they have an interest – one wants to take Victor Ponta’s place in the party, another one wants to remain the country’s first senator, another one mistakes power for national interest and they all mistake national interest for personal interest’, Gorghiu said.
The PNL leader also pointed out that the MPs had a choice ‘between Victor Ponta and Romania’.
‘You have a choice between continuing with the defiance and making a normal gesture, you have choice between renouncing the dizziness given by power and telling the public that even the MPs who support a Government have their moments of lucidity. You have a choice between being kept on your knees in the benches and living up to the expectations of the public, you have a choice between Victor Ponta and Romania’, Gorghiu added.
She insisted that the MPs should show solidarity with those who participated in the Izvor Park rally and not with the ‘heads of party’.
‘You are keeping Victor Ponta at Victoria Palace like some old coat on a hanger you don’t really feel like throwing away yet but one that you know you’ll never wear again. Your wish to stay in power hurts Romania. Under the Constitution, Victor Ponta can be replaced by dismissal or resignation. We are all clear that resignation is not an option here. Without hinting at anyone’s health issue, PM Ponta had rather cut off a leg then step down, no matter how much damage he causes to Romania’, said Gorghiu.
The PNL leader rejected Ponta’s allegations, urging him to demonstrate what he claimed and take a look in the mirror.
‘You have searched hard but you have found nothing. You have filed complaints against me, you had Mr. Cazanciuc threaten me with all sorts of things that do not look rights for a politician. If you can find the tiniest argument that I have broken the law, please demonstrate that. I’ve had enough of allegations. It is you who are on trial, but all the rest are corrupt. Take a look in the mirror, Mr. Ponta!’ Gorghiu said.
Vasile Blaga : ‘From Mr. Ponta nothing is to be expected’
National Liberal Party (PNL) co-chairman Vasile Blaga considers that, due to the decision taken by Prime Minister Victor Ponta no to resign as a consequence of his problems with the law, he “dishonours Romania every day” and that the motion of censure represents an opportunity for the MPs of the governmental coalition to end this situation.
“Unfortunately, Mr. Victor Ponta has chosen dishonour and is dishonouring Romania every day. He should’ve resigned immediately after he was placed under criminal investigation. Our motion is not about a man, we have not made an obsession over Victor Ponta. (…) From Mr Ponta nothing is to be expected, that is why we address you, the parliamentary majority, that have continued to support him in these past three months. The motion is to separate sides. Choose to end this situation or be with Victor Ponta until the end in an honourless politic, in a governing act with no perspective,” said Blaga in a speech at a plenary session of Parliament, on the occasion of the censure motion debates.
In his opinion, when a high dignitary reaches a personal situation that harms his position in the state, his country and each citizen, then he should leave that dignity immediately.
The PNL co-chairman also said that the situation in which Ponta is does not bring him joy and that “humanly” he understands the latter, but believes that the “extremely complicated” moment in which the country is currently will not be forgotten by the citizens at the elections of next year.
‘UDMR, this time, will vote against the Government’
Chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR), Hunor Kelemen, has stated, on Tuesday, from the Parliament platform, that the members of the UDMR groups will vote against the government, claiming there are “countless” reasons for which this executive should leave a new team in its place.
“The members of the UDMR parliamentary groups, this time, will vote against the Government. At the same time, our vote mustn’t be considered a vote in support of the censure motion. The motion of censure, as an institutional and democratic instrument, must be aimed against the Government and not a single person and not against some claimed acts that have no relation with the work of the Government. (…) Our vote will be against the Government, because we have countless reasons to say that this Government should leave a new Executive in its place, a new team”, said Hunor Kelemen, at the debate on the motion of censure initiated by the Liberals.
He stated that “investment are as if they were inexistent, the central activity has lost its compass, and the emergency ordinances unseat the balance between legislatives.”
On the other hand, the leader of the UDMR stated that he does not believe that political consequences will stem from expressing a vote in Parliament.
Liviu Dragnea ironical about UDMR
The interim President of PSD, Liviu Dragnea, said on Tuesday that UDMR was still represented in various government bodes of major importance and that he could not understand if Union leader Kelemen Hunor, when criticising the Government, meant the whole Cabinet or if perhaps the UDMR representatives were the exceptions.
‘I have not exactly understood if, when he criticised the Government a few minutes ago, he meant all those who are in the Government or only those who are not from UDMR, who still has important positions in various government bodies’, Dragnea said, replying to UDMR leader Kelemen Hunor.
Gorghiu and Ponta trade poignant lines over Dan Motreanu
Alina Gorghiu stated that the resignation of Dan Motreanu is already on her desk.
“For me and for the colleagues in the PNL, Victor Ponta is not guilty until the judiciary decides one way or another. We, politicians, have no right to judge, nor to convict, but I wouldn’t have liked to say this at the lectern, but I will give you an example – on my desk, since yesterday, is the resignation of Dan Motreanu. Do you see anywhere, on anybody’s desk the resignation of Victor Ponta?” said Alina Gorghiu, in the plenary session of Parliament debating on the censure motion filed by the Liberals against the Ponta Government.
Her mention came in the context in which Prime Minister Victor Ponta said, at the debate of the motion of censure, that it will also be voted on by “people who are under prosecution, convicted”. “I’m sorry for Dan Motreanu. That’s life! But if you claim one thing you must support it until the end, but you know what, dear colleagues, I can hear Mr Predoiu, former candidate in Buzau in 2008, speaking of legality and the rule of law and about how members of the PSD [Social Democrat Party] will be taken away by police vans. Do you remember who else said that? I believe Mr George Scutaru, also from Buzau. Maybe Mr Predoiu will hear it,” said Ponta according to Agerpres.
On Monday, prosecutors with the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) have sent to court George Scutaru, former Presidential adviser, and Dan Motreanu, deputy chairman of the Chamber of Deputies, in a case regarding bribes for funding the electoral campaign. George Scutaru, who is under judicial control, and at the time of the offences a member in a leadership position in a party, and Dan Motreanu, a deputy and member in a leadership position in a party, were sent to court by the DNA for money laundering, together with Ana Maria Schaer, the administrator of a company.