MP Valeriu Steriu was elected national leader of the National Union for Romania’s Progress at a convention of the party’s National Conference on Saturday in Bucharest, attended by nearly 450 members.
Steriu garnered 339 votes, while the other two candidates, Senators Iulian Cristache and Ioan Iovescu, got 22 and 5 votes, respectively. Four votes were annulled. Casting ballots were 370 UNPR members of the party’s 401 National Conference members.
Steriu said his mission is to bring the party to rule and turn it into a central component of Romanian politics as well as a core for any political coalitions.
“I do not want us to align ourselves with just anyone (…) Our objective should not be a targeted party; it should be more important and it should not miss from ruling,” Steriu added.
The convention of the UNPR National Convention was unfolded in the absence of Gabriel Oprea, the founder of the party who resigned UNPR chairmanship on March 3, 2016 amidst legal controversies.
At the same event, Gabriel Oprea was designated the founding chairman of UNPR following a unanimous amendment of the party’s statutes.
Several UNPR officials praised Oprea and Bucharest District 2 Mayor, Neculai Ontanu, the party’s acting national chairman after Oprea’s resignation, who on March 25 was placed under pre-trial detention for bribe allegations. Oprea and Ontanu also got repeated rounds of applause from the attendees.
“Mr Ontanu, we love you (…) and we need you here with us,” said UNPR leader Gheorghe Bica.
MP Eugen Nicolicea, UNPR’s deputy chairman, said Gabriel Oprea is the founder of the party, adding that a board in charge with modifying UNPR’s statutes suggested a new paragraph designating Gabriel Oprea as UNPR’s founding chairman.
He added the amendment reflects UNPR coming to terms with its history.
Nicolicea said now that the UNPR statutes are modified by unanimous vote, steps will be taken for the changes in the statutes to be registered with the tribunal as well.
UNPR was officially launched on May 1, 2010 as a breakaway from the Social Democratic Party (PSD) upon the initiative of then PSD member Gabriel Oprea.
Oprea resigned his chairmanship on March 3, 2016 amidst legal controversies. The party was then led by interim leader Neculai Ontanu, who on March 25 was placed under pre-trial detention for bribe allegations.
In a letter to the party on his resignation day, Oprea said his pick for the office of UNPR national leader is Valeriu Steriu, about who he said “is a man whose professionalism is acknowledged by all parties, and also a leader with high potentials.”
UNPR’s Toma: It’s a tough fight, but we’ll win; UNPR is neither to right nor to left
Senator Ion Toma, chairing the convention of the National Conference of the National Union for Romania’s Progress (UNPR) told delegates that the party is facing difficult times, but it will win, mentioning that the future of UNPR is neither to left, nor to right.
Toma thanked Gabriel Oprea, the UNPR founder and national leader until his resignation on March 3, 2016, and Neculai Ontanu, who on March 24 was placed under pre-trial detention for bribe allegations.
The convention was held in the absence of Gabriel Oprea, who was designated the founding chairman of UNPR following an amendment of the party’s statutes.
At the same time, Toma said the convention was held at a difficult time for UNPR.
“I would have not been here today before you, had party chairman Gabriel Oprea not existed, a man who believed that a group of determined people can change Romanian politics,”Toma told nearly 450 delegates in attendance.
He added that good days are ahead for UNPR, because it is a special, progressive party.
“When you say progress, you say future. UNPR has proved that where there are progressives there is social peace, citizen’s security and the development of Romania (…). We are all facing hard times; we already did before; some of our colleagues have left, which saddens me, but others joined us (…). It is a tough fight, but I am convinced we will win. The future of the party is neither to right, not to left. If we find the courage to go on, we will succeed in the forthcoming elections,”said Toma.