POLITICS

Nomination of the new PNL candidate for Bucharest City Hall continues to stir up controversial reactions

Marian Munteanu (54) is the new candidate nominated by PNL for the Bucharest City Hall elections, after the Liberals gave up on Cristian Busoi at the last moment. Ludovic Orban then replaced the latter, however on Monday the Liberals were forced to look for another replacement after Orban was indicted in a National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) investigation.

As expected, the surprising nomination of Marian Munteanu as the National Liberal Party (PNL) candidate, which goes through a lack of qualified members to the electoral race for the Bucharest City Hall, when there are two months until local elections, still generates reactions both among Liberals and other parties’ leaders.

PNL’s move to nominate Munteanu was labelled, one by one, as spectacular, shocking, incomprehensible or worthy of keeping an eye on. Why? “One of the explanations would be precisely the fact that Marian Munteanu’s post-Revolution biography can be split into two big periods: the one that ran until the end of 1990 – the year in which he coordinated the anti-National Salvation Front (FSN) protests in Bucharest’s University Square, when he was severely beaten by miners – and the one since 1991 – a period marked by three attempts to enter high-level politics and by alliances formed with some of the most shady characters and parties of the Romanian transition period,” digi24.ro writes.

PNL’s move took everyone by surprise, the more so since Marian Munteanu, just like in 1992 (when he wanted to establish a party) and 2000 (when he allied with PUNR and with Virgil Magureanu, the former director of the Romanian Intelligence Service, in order to run for President), has announced that he accepted entering the electoral race from the position of member of the civil society.

“This, in the context in which his political activity, although not necessarily fruitful, was certainly fairly pronounced in these 25 years,” digi24.ro notes, quoting Agerpres.

Sociologist Dan Jurcan stated for Digi24 that Marian Munteanu is an atypical candidate for the Bucharest City Hall and pointed out that he no longer represents what he represented in June 1990. He reminded that just a day after the announcement of his candidacy, Marian Munteanu’s credibility was seriously shaken: he was accused of being a neo-legionnaire, an Orthodox fundamentalist, a Holocaust denier and of having collaborated with a “member of the Securitate.”

“He is not a candidate that comes from civil society, he has an ideology. He has a notoriety that reaches 30 percent at national level. Around 15 percent support him for what he did in June 1990. Today’s Marian Munteanu is not the Marian Munteanu of June 1990. We saw in the last 24 hours that this credibility of his is being attacked from all quarters. He is accused of being a neo-legionnaire, an Orthodox fundamentalist, a Holocaust denier, of having collaborated with a “member of the Securitate.” He is even accused of ultra-nationalism, given his link with ‘Vatra Romaneasca,’” Dan Jurcan stated.

The sociologist pointed out that all these aspects contradict the profile of the Liberal electorate.

“There are things that contradict the profile of the Liberal electorate, who is pro-West, pro-Atlantist, who is rather tolerant. This image could create a problem of choice for the Liberal electorate. It’s a fairly large congestion on the right side of the political spectrum,” Dan Jurcan said.

Likewise, the sociologist pointed out that the scandal that started after this candidacy was announced does not harm Marian Munteanu, on the contrary.

“I wondered whether this scandal surrounding Munteanu actually harms him. At this stage, from his point of view, it is good that he is being discussed. There is less talk about Nicusor Dar, Gabriela Firea. If he is sufficiently intelligent to use this notoriety created by accusations, and to turn it into confidence, then he has high chances of growing in the surveys,” Dan Jurcan stated.

The sociologist added that in the following weeks Marian Munteanu has to present his plan for Bucharest.

“He is an atypical candidate. It’s very strange that PNL carried out surveys in order to choose between Busoi and Orban. In less than 24 hours, they picked Munteanu. Munteanu is riding a certain wave of expectations. He is a man that cannot be accused of lack of integrity, lack of morality. But he is not a good manager. In the next weeks, he will have to build a strategy through which to convey his vision on Bucharest. He is creating a very serious problem for the Liberal electorate. Marian Munteanu is known by those who are over 40-45 years of age, who know the events of June 13-15 [1990]. PNL has a problem with constructing notoriety among its own Liberal electorate,” Dan Jurcan concluded.

 

Several NGOs ask PNL to pull Marian Munteanu out of the electoral race

 

The National Liberal Party’s (PNL) choice to nominate Marian Munteanu as its candidate for the Bucharest City Hall has sparked the reaction of several NGOs.

Their representatives have called on the PNL leadership to pull Marian Munteanu out of the race for the Bucharest City Hall.

The signatories of the text, titled “A call for democracy and European values,” call on the PNL leadership to pull Marian Munteanu out of the race for the Bucharest City Hall, and consider his nomination an offence toward the democratic values of the society we are living in.

“He had and has sympathies for fascist currents, sympathies he never retracted. He is promoting a discourse based on Orthodox-fundamentalist elements incompatible with democratic and even constitutional values.

With these sole reasons in mind, and with the concern that by promoting such persons to such a candidacy where they can express their noxious ideas that can produce irreparable turmoil in the social, ethnic, religious and other strata of the Romanian society, we are asking PNL to withdraw its political support for Marian Munteanu.

We point out that by insisting with this candidacy, Romania risks entering an isolationist spiral that could have very serious consequences for Romanian democracy,” reads the call signed by the Institute for Public Policies, the Romanian Academic Society, the FILIA Centre, the Romani Criss – Roma Centre for Social Intervention and Studies, the ‘Impreuna’ Community Development Agency, ACCEPT, the Euroregional Centre for Public Initiatives and the European Centre for the Rights of Children with Disabilities.

 

PNL, harsh answer for NGOs

 

PNL answered the NGOs through an open letter titled “Call for truth,” accusing them of launching groundless accusations against Marian Munteanu and that they, as members of the civil society, are engaging in political games to the benefit of his contenders. In the same open letter, PNL deems that these accusations can only be seen as part of a propagandistic discourse often seen in politicking.

“During the few days that passed since Marian Munteanu was nominated PNL’s candidate for the Bucharest City Hall, PNL members have noted that the same groundless accusations that a quarter of a century ago sought to sully the University Square’s image have once again started to circulate.

This time, these accusations are no longer coming from the party led by Ion Iliescu, nor from the FSN press, but from organisations and persons that apparently consider they have the monopoly over the idea of civil society. In fact, these persons are Romania’s latest politicians and they openly support the action of a political party that is taking part in the local elections in Bucharest,” PNL’s letter to NGOs reads.

Referring to the accusations according to which Marian Munteanu supports the far right, the open letter emphasises that “PNL cannot help but note that now too, just like it was during the sad days of the miners’ riots, the evidence that would back these accusations is missing. That is why PNL is now officially asking all those who stoke this discourse full of falsity to have the decency and deontology to concretely prove their statements, by presenting to public opinion statements made and actions taken by Marian Munteanu that would back the accusations.”

 

Mircea Ionescu Quintus: Marian Munteanu should have a reaction. PNL has a backup plan

 

PNL Honorary President Mircea Ionescu Quintus stated on Thursday, for Mediafax, referring to the NGOs’ call for the party to pull Marian Munteanu out of the race, that Marian Munteanu himself is the one who should have a reaction and that PNL has a backup plan in case he bows out.

“I’m not interested in the NGOs’ attitude, I’m interested in Mr. Marian Munteanu’s attitude, because this stance concerns him,” PNL Honorary President Mircea Ionescu Quintus stated when asked for his comment on the seven NGO’s call on PNL to pull Marian Munteanu out of the electoral race.

Asked what attitude Marian Munteanu should have had, Mircea Ionescu Quintus stated that this concerns Munteanu and “it’s his decision.”

Asked whether PNL should continue to back Marian Munteanu’s candidacy, PNL’s Honorary President stated that the Liberals have endorsed Munteanu’s candidacy and now “it’s the NGOs’ and Marian Munteanu’s problem.”

“We endorsed it, the fact that those NGOs intervened is their and Mr. Munteanu’s problem, how close he is to this civil society or not,” Quintus added.

PNL’s Honorary President added that if Marian Munteanu withdraws his candidacy, the party has a backup plan, stating that he will force through his say this time.

“This time, however, I can tell you that if something happens we are ready with a backup plan, but God forbid something happens. If Mr. Marian Munteanu wants to withdraw, a hypothesis that seems to me very unlikely, we have an immediate replacement. This time I will force through my point of view too,” Mircea Quintus stated, pointing out that the Liberals would select a candidate from among party members.

 

Saftoiu: I don’t recall the street demanding parties not to nominate party members for the electoral race

 

Adriana Saftoiu was the latest to join the list of Marian Munteanu’s detractors, right from within the party that is backing him in the local elections. Saftoiu does not recall civil society demanding parties not to nominate party members as candidates.

She suggested that the decision to back Marian Munteanu was unfortunate, despite the fact that she expressed her conviction that the party leaders – naming Vasile Blaga, Catalin Predoiu and Ilie Bolojan – “had the best intentions.”

“I don’t know that the street asked parties not to nominate party members, no. Civil society asked parties to reform themselves and not to bring to the forefront politicians with legal problems. Nobody asked the abolishment of political parties. That would mean the abolishment of democracy. We were asked to cleanse ourselves of the people that do us no credit,” Saftoiu pointed out. She stated that she expressed her willingness to run in the race after Ludovic Orban bowed out.

“I talked with Mr. Predoiu too, the president of the Bucharest party branch, who has a great deal of responsibility in this campaign. I said back then that since Mr. Predoiu is also president of the Bucharest branch he would definitely have high chances and the backing of the branch. Mr. Predoiu refused so then I said I accept running for the Bucharest City Hall,” the PNL Vice President stated, pointing out that the discussion took place on Monday.

According to Adriana Saftoiu, “assessments” were carried out on Tuesday morning and the conclusion reached was that a non-party member candidate would have higher chances.

Asked whether the Liberals “have lost the online” with their support for Marian Munteanu, she said: “Hard to tell, some say we did.”

 

‘Elie Wiesel’ National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust: Public person Marian Munteanu is “a reason for concern”

 

The ‘Elie Wiesel’ National Institute for the Study of the Holocaust considers that Marian Munteanu is “a reason for concern to the extent in which he is identified with or promotes the symbolism of interwar right-wing extremists and makes public statements in order to downplay or deny a series of historical realities.”

“Public person Marian Munteanu is a reason for concern to the extent in which he is identified with or promotes the symbolism of interwar right-wing extremism and makes public statements in order to downplay or deny a series of historical realities. In this sense, we point out the statement made yesterday, April 13, on a television channel, statement through which he distorted the sense and content of Law no.217/2015. Marian Munteanu stated that “Law 217/2015 is an anti-Semitic law. There is hardly any anti-Semitism, it’s rather xenophobia. We are all philo-Semites because we are Christians.” Such populist statements lacking arguments serve only to elude the possible events or emotional states generated by negative socio-ethnic perceptions or xenophobic, anti-Semitic, racist preconceptions,” the ‘Elie Wiesel’ Institute’s website points out.

 

Cristian Preda asks PNL to withdraw Munteanu’s candidacy: Ridicule has overwhelmed them

 

MEP Cristian Preda is asking PNL to withdraw Marian Munteanu’s candidacy for the Bucharest City Hall, stating that it is preferable for the party not to have a candidate, “because ridicule has overwhelmed them.”

“I am calling on the PNL leadership. I am inviting them to withdraw the candidacy of Marian Munteanu, who has nothing to do with the centre-right profile of those who have voted for Liberal parties throughout time, nor with the doctrine of the EPP, the European family PNL joined. Munteanu’s candidacy is an error as great as proposing King Michael as presidential candidate in 1992. After the Busoi, Orban and Munteanu series, it’s preferable for PNL not to have a candidate, because ridicule has overwhelmed them. Only apologising to Bucharest voters can save them. If Munteanu is withdrawn, I will vote for PNL at the General Counci. If not, I will vote against Munteanu and against PNL candidates,” Preda wrote on Facebook on Wednesday evening.

 

Liberal senior Quintus, disappointed: “It is a mistake for PNL leadership that it had no backup plan for the Capital”

 

Liberal senior Mircea Ionescu Quintus stated for Mediafax that his decision to refrain from voting in the matter of Marian Munteanu’s candidacy is a vote against the “mistake” of the leadership, which had no backup plan, mentioning also that National Political Bureau (BPN) will have to assume a possible failure.

“My vote did not concern Marian Munteanu; it was a vote against PNL leadership’s mistake, which had to have several backup solutions in case of the withdrawal of Mr. Ludovic Orban, who had the right position. (…) I wished one of the PNL members to be our candidate”, PNL Honorary Chairman Mircea Ionescu Quintus stated on Wednesday.

The venerable Liberal, who recently turned to 99 years old, also said that a political party is not allowed to put itself in such situations without having a backup plan. “A political party cannot be taken by surprise. Nobody thought of a plan B, or of a plan C. This is a mistake of the PNL leadership. I had three proposals for the candidacy, they refer to three distinguished ladies; I will not reveal their names. One of them is Adriana Săftoiu”, he said. When asked if he thought about PNL Co-President Alina Ghorghiu, Quintus said no.

Asked if Marian Munteanu’s speech, which have been considered as a nationalist one by several voices within the public filed, a speech with extreme right tones that could affect PNL campaign, Quintus stated that “Marian Munteanu was a nationalist student, an enemy of the communism”, and no one could reproach this to him. “I don’t think he will be challenged for these reasons, I think he is accepted by the civil society also, since he is a legend of the University Square. (…) I believe he has as much chances as Ludovic Orban would have had”, PNL Honorary Chairman also said.

When he was asked if the Co-Presidents Alina Ghorghiu and Vasile Blaga should take responsibility and resign, in the event that Marian Munteanu will not win the local elections in Bucharest and will get a low score, Quintus stated that “All of us in the leadership should assume the responsibility. We should admit that we were wrong and the party should decide further”.

Quintus avoided giving a straight answer regarding the resignation of PNL Bucharest Organization’s President Cătălin Predoiu, in the event of an electoral failure. “This is up to each person”, he said, adding that he doesn’t know why Cătălin Predoiu refused to register in the electoral race. „Why don’t you ask him? Maybe Mr. Predoiu has other plans. He was a nominee for the PM position, but that was a long time ago”, Quintus also said.

 

Geoana: “Firea and Munteanu are the proof of the lack of high quality human resource inside the traditional parties”

 

Asked about his opinion on the situation of Ludovic Orban, the President of the Romanian Social Party (PSRO) Mircea Geoana stated on Wednesday, while being present at the launching of the candidates for Sibiu local elections, that he is not glad at all about what happens to Orban, but that PNL and PSD solutions to have Marian Munteanu and Gabriela Firea as candidates represent “a proof of the lack of high quality human resource inside the traditional parties”.

“It is obvious there was a link between private money, sometimes transparent, sometimes less transparent, and politics, in the last years in Romania. Therefore, I am glad that Romanian Justice investigates such situations. But regarding Ludovic Orban’s situation, I am not glad at all. In fact, I really agree Ludovic Orban. I know him. We are not friends. Somehow, he is also a victim of a method to finance the campaign, including the so-called ‘bag media’. We have to ask ourselves if we should continue do things that way. And my answer is ‘NO’”, Mircea Geoana stated while launching PSRO candidates at Sibiu.

“The solution that was found, to replace Mr. Orban, reveals – as in the case of PSD, where Mrs. Firea is the candidate – the lack of high quality human resource inside the traditional parties. I will not make any comment about Mr. Munteanu. (…) But it’s obvious that finding such solutions in a big party is a proof of the incapacity to generate high level resources inside the party, as well as finding the solution of nominating Mrs. Firea, who came in PSD two years ago, and who actually does not represent anything of what PSD represented is also a formula which hides the emptiness of the quality of human resource inside Liviu Dragnea’s PSD”, stated Mircea Geoana.

 

Dragnea: “We don’t know if Marian Munteanu will continue to be the PNL candidate. It’s like the story of Petrica and the Wolf”

 

Speaking about the candidacy of Marian Munteanu for the Bucharest City Hall, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated on Wednesday that it’s not sure that Munteanu will stay on electoral competition, being the third candidate supported by PNL for the City Hall.

“I would like not to make any comment for the moment, as I talked to my colleagues also. We would like to make all the comments after the registration period of the candidacies ends, because we are not sure that Mr. Marian Munteanu will stay as the PNL candidate. He represents the third proposal and we are already like in the story of Petrica and the Wolf. We are waiting for the moment, and we will issue an opinion in the end. (…) First it was Mr. Busoi, then it was Mr. Orban, now they have a third proposal. I don’t know, it is already the third nomination and we are cautious, maybe we are interested in a stable nomination”, PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated.

Liviu Dragnea said that PSD is not going to replace Gabriela Firea in the competition for Bucharest City Hall, asserting that the rumor was launched by the Liberals.

“I could understand their desperate and cheap attempt to say that we will replace Gabriela Firea, as soon as they started to discuss about changing their candidate. We continue to stay on the candidacy of Gabriela Vranceanu Firea”, Dragnea commented.

The PSD leader also stated that he advised Gabriela Firea to talk to Bucharest residents and not to focus so much on the counter-candidates. “I understood that their great project for Bucharest is us. We wish them luck. We always have a positive approach”, Dragnea concluded.

 

 

 

 

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