Ion Iliescu is no longer a member of the PSD National Standing Bureau since Sunday, when the extraordinary congress validated a few changes to the statute restricting BPN also by removing the honorary president from the national leading body.
The new president of the party with the highest number of members in Romania, Liviu Dragnea, said on Monday, after the first meeting of the new BPN, that Iliescu had to be removed from ‘that formalism’ and noted that the ex-president was welcome to the meetings at any time.
The PSD veteran who is the honorary president of the party, Ion Iliescu, will no longer have a vote on the BPN.
‘Mr. Iliescu is not a member of the National Sanding Bureau. The members of the BPN were elected by the congress. On the other hand, Mr. Iliescu may participate in any leading structure of this party. I believe it was a mistake – I actually talked to him a week ago – it would have been a mistake to keep Mr. Iliescu on the Standing Bureau. The honorary president cannot be on an executive body. The honorary president is the founder of this party, a person who receives the respect of the party, but who does not effectively engage in the executive leadership structures of the party. He may come anytime, to any debate, to any leading structure, say what he feels he needs to say’, Liviu Dragnea explained during a press conference after the PSD BPN meeting., quoted by Agerpres.
Ion Iliescu participated in the PSD congress at Sala Palatului on Sunday, where he gave a speech criticising the leaders of the party, including the fact that Dragnea was a single candidate in the internal election of the president of the party.
‘It’s good that we performed an exercise of direct democracy by having all members elect the president of the party. It would have been even better if we had a genuine competition, a confrontation of several projects and programmes, several offers. I hope we will learn something from this experiment’, Iliescu said.
‘A permanent ideological clarification is compulsory, to permit the reintegration of these themes that were at the origin of the structuring of the emergence of our party. It is the time for the re-affirmation of he party’s left-wing option, of the classic Romanian Social-Democratic values and principles and of the contemporary European ones’, he also said.
Iliescu reproached the Social-Democrat young leaders their ‘poor connection’ with the intellectual community and that that it was a bad signal for the society.
‘It is direct criticism of the leaders of our party, who have a poor connection with the intellectuals of the country. They are hardly present among them, during specific functions’, Iliescu told the PSD representatives gathered for the extraordinary congress on Sunday.
Iliescu said PSD had a problem with the promotion of a political elite and ascertained the amplification of ‘the political phenomenon of occult ties’.
‘We have a problem with the recruitment, training and promotion of a political and administrative elite, with securing its professionalism, and that cannot be resolved by narrowing down the recruitment base, by using criteria that have nothing to do with personal merits. The capitalism based on occult ties I was mentioning once is followed by an amplification of the political phenomenon of occult ties’, Iliescu added.
Dragnea, pacifying tone on Nastase and Sturzu’s criticism
Another voice that had a deep connection with PSD and that has recently denounced the idea of reform launched by the new leadership of the party is former Prime-Minister Adrian Nastase. ‘There is a certain temptation of some PSD leaders to periodically import the idea of
As for the criticism voiced by the leader of the Social-Democrat youth that, on Monday, he had not been allowed into the PSD building because of his negative speech during the congress on Sunday, Dragnea said: ‘Only good things about Sturzu!’. Regarding his statements, Dragnea said on Monday that he had advised his colleagues ‘to have sense of measure and propriety of words’ in every public statement they made.
On Monday, Sturzu told the reports at the PSD headquarters that ‘the modernisation has started on the right foot. We are now going to sack everybody from the party’. He also wrote on Facebook: ‘ten minutes ago I was just banned from the BPN meeting of PSD in Kiseleff. The modernisation of the party ahs begun’.
In an interview to ‘Evenimentul zilei’ Mihai Sturzu says that the image of a communist party PSD has been given comes from a deficient communication with the ‘exterior’, and that’s what he tried to stress in his controversial speech during the congress on Sunday.
‘I spokes especially of a wall PSD has built during these 25 years between itself and the citizens, an invisible wall that becomes very important at electoral moments. Things we strongly believe in, inside the party, are seen completely differently outside PSD. When we go out and communicate with the electorate, we find ourselves in a completely different reality and we are very surprised. It became again clear during the election of the party president’, Sturzu said.
‘We thought a vote for a single candidate would show the world a sensation of unity and strength. Instead, we appeared as a party with communist reflexes, that is afraid of debates’, he also said.
He said he himself had been accused of communism by people close to him. ‘The last time I was accused of communism was a week ago, when my friends and my own mother told me:
PSD Congress, marked by speeches about communism and small gestures of dissidence
Liviu Dragnea presented on Sunday evening at the Palace Hall, in front of an empty meeting hall and in the absence of even some of the Vice Presidents just elected, the team with which he will work within PSD, at a Congress marked by debates about communism, gestures of dissidence and criticism brought by Ion Iliescu and the leader of the party’s Youth Organization, an analysis published by Mediafax shows.
The PSD Congress was, right from the start, an extremely peaceful one. The results of most of the races for the 15 positions put up for grabs were already known. By the end of the evening the only “surprise” came from Mihai Fifor, leader of PSD Senators, who lost by a thread the position of Vice President despite being supported by party leaders. Apart from that, the only problems the delegates had concerned the number of votes to be won by their favourites.
While in past years such events automatically meant the creation of opposing camps, betrayals and virulent attacks, Sunday’s Congress meeting was heralded to be a very calm one. The key moments were the exchanges of sarcastic replies and stares between Liviu Dragnea and Victor Ponta, the re-launch of a debate about the communist party label, which culminated with the outburst of the leader of Social-Democrat Youth, and Ion Iliescu’s criticism, Mediafax points out.
Dragnea’s “break with the past,” sabotaged by Marian Oprisan
A tenser moment which puzzled some delegates was the one in which Liviu Dragnea asked for a moment of silence to be held for the victims of the communist dictatorship. The PSD President asked the audience to stand up in order to mark the Social-Democrats’ “break with the past” in the presence of Ion Iliescu, however Marian Oprisan was the one who subsequently reacted. “PSD was never communist. Let’s put an end to this straw man invented by our political opponents,” the leader of PSD Vrancea stated from the rostrum shortly after Dragnea’s “symbolic gesture.”
Oprisan came up with a much more trenchant statement shortly after he voted for the new PSD leadership: “Take a look at the United States of America, violence is answered with violence,” he said, referring to the miners’ riots and the law enforcement authorities’ intervention against the protesters in University Square in June 1990.
Several delegates got involved in a heated debate on the party’s communist past and on the statements made by the leader of PSD Vrancea. “He talked without thinking,” one of them said. Another delegate interrupted him, saying “Oprisan always knows what he’s saying” and he “was there” in University Square.
The debates continued even after the Congress ended, when a delegated laughingly told a colleague while leaving the Palace Hall: “There, you see? We’re no longer communists; we’ve got rid of this too.”
How Sturzu “the dissident” ruined his chances
Repeatedly criticized by Liviu Dragnea for the way in which he manages the party’s youth organization, Sturzu entered the race for a position of Vice President but “shot himself in the foot,” as some delegates put it, precisely through the speech he gave. In it, he scolded the party for its internal elections last week, elections in which Liviu Dragnea was the only candidate, and even asked for their result to be invalidated, invoking the fact that Dragnea’s election as unopposed candidate is precisely proof of communism.
In a long speech, which took place toward the end of the debates, a speech that was not broadcast through live streaming on www.psd.ro, Sturzu admitted that his gesture could do him a disservice. “How many chances I have after so much courage, only God knows,” he stated.
“I’m sorry I didn’t see it, I was outside. Somebody told me,” Liviu Dragnea stated, downplaying the impact of Sturzu’s outburst.
Later on, other PSD leaders could be heard on the hallways talking about the statements made by their young colleague, stating that they heard about his criticism from the press. “I don’t know what came over him,” a Social-Democrat said. Another one recounted how he found out about the PSD leader’s dissatisfaction from a colleague that was within the meeting hall: “I was outside and one of my boys called me and told me: listen to what Sturzu is saying!”
Sturzu eventually lost the internal race and this result comes just before the round of elections to be held within the party’s youth organization. In fact, Mihai Sturzu admitted in his speech that this is probably his last speech as head of PSD’s Youth Organization, Mediafax analysis shows.