PSD Executive President Valeriu Zgonea’s party membership was revoked on Wednesday. The decision is not open to appeal, so this will very likely lead to him also losing the office of Lower Chamber Speaker.
Wednesday’s meeting took place after Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea asked for PSD President Liviu Dragnea’s resignation. Dragnea was sentenced to prison, suspended sentence, in the Referendum Case.
During a meeting on Monday, several important PSD members asked for Zgonea to be sacked from the offices he holds within the party and in Parliament, while five party branches asked for his resignation. Zgonea refused to resign and told his colleagues they should decide whether he has to be censured for expressing his opinions.
The conflict started after Valeriu Zgonea asked Liviu Dragnea to resign as a result of the fact that the PSD leader was sentenced to prison, suspended sentence, in the Referendum Case. After the final sentence was passed, Zgonea stated that Dragnea should step down because he has a final prison sentence on his record.
Zgonea: “I remembered the Inquisition”
Valeriu Zgonea said that he will remain at the helm of the Lower Chamber until PSD’s parliamentary group asks for his revocation, adding that what happened at the PSD meeting reminded him of the Inquisition.
“It’s a very important day in my life. I witnessed a profoundly unfair decision. I remembered the Inquisition and the idea that if you express an opinion you are condemned. The crime of having a different opinion has become, after 26 years, what you saw today. I thank God they didn’t take away my Social Democrat heart too,” Zgonea dramatically stated after the Executive Committee vote.
“Instead of him leaving, I’m the one leaving. This is the decision, I didn’t understand it,” he said, adding that within PSD “the leader does not take on the responsibilities entailed by the office held.” “I expressed an opinion that party leaders should not transfer the burden of their problems on the candidates’ shoulders,” he added.
Valeriu Zgonea pointed out that he did not see in the Integrity Commission’s report that having a different opinion is open to censure, but that he will respect his colleagues’ decision.
Dragnea: Zgonea wanted to apologise
“For me personally this is a pretty sad day, we are talking about revoking the party membership of a former colleague. I hoped we wouldn’t get to this point. Yesterday and today, I had talks with most of the members of the Committee, encouraging them to adopt a moderate solution. The position was fairly trenchant and was not generated by personal opinions but by talks they had both with party members and citizens, with hundreds of thousands of people,” Dragnea said. He stated he did not want to influence the decision so he left the room on Wednesday.
Dragnea also revealed behind-the-scenes details, namely that Zgonea allegedly tried to settle the conflict and to remain a party member.
“Yesterday, several colleagues told me, on behalf of Mr. Zgonea, that he wants to apologise and wants us to carry on together,” the PSD President revealed. “In recent months I heard several rumours, that someone was saying in many places that PSD is a political monster whose objective is to destroy the state. I want to assure them that PSD will continue to be the same responsible party and will continue the internal modernisation process with the same determination,” the PSD President added.
He emphasised that PSD “will ensure support for all state institutions” and that “all commitments will be respected.”
“I ask all party colleagues in the country not to allow themselves to be provoked or sidetracked from our objectives,” the PSD President also stated.
“PSD has showed today what every party has to show, that the decisions have to be taken within the party,” Dragnea added.
Concerning the nomination of a new Lower Chamber Speaker, Liviu Dragnea said that the decision will be taken at the next National Standing Bureau meeting. “At the first National Standing Bureau we will take a political decision in what concerns the successor,” Dragnea explained.
Asked whether ex-premier Victor Ponta could take over Zgonea’s office and whether he is prepared to do that, Liviu Dragnea answered: “Mr. Ponta is prepared for any office.”
Ion Iliescu opposed party membership revocation
Ex-president Ion Iliescu gave instructions to the members of the party’s National Executive Committee, concerning Liviu Dragnea and Valergiu Zgonea. Although he claimed Dragnea has to remain PSD President, Iliescu also claimed that Zgonea should not have his party membership revoked.
“The party has responsibilities toward its members and sympathisers alike, toward left-wing people in Romania and toward all citizens. It has to do its duty, not to be sidetracked in power struggles that have no stake for Romanians. You know very well that I am not the fan of party membership revocations and of other forceful measures. They did a lot of harm to us. If we resort to this now too, we won’t solve anything,” Iliescu wrote.
“Mr. Valeriu Zgonea joined PSD during the years in which we were in the Opposition, two decades ago. I recall the enthusiasm with which he was taking on responsibilities and was working for the benefit of the party,” the former president recalled, adding that “after the elections there is time for a profound analysis of the situation within the party.”