*Dragnea and Diaconu trade broadsides
Ex-premier Victor Ponta, side-lined by Liviu Dragnea within the Social Democratic Party (PSD), is trying to secure a place on the party’s lists for the parliamentary elections, but at the same time is also lending a hand to the construction of the United Romania Party (PRU), in order to subsequently direct the negotiations on the forming of the new government. Asked, in a talk-show on B1TV, whether he covertly got involved in the United Romania Party (PRU) project, Victor Ponta answered: “With PRU I did exactly what I did with ALDE. Calin Popescu Tariceanu was alone. I told him I’ll help him create a party, because PNL was no longer a Liberal party. I appointed him Senate Speaker and I got into an argument with the Social Democrats, who are now friends with him. I told them: “Don’t be greedy!” And I was proven right. Same in 2012, with Oprea. I know Bogdan Diaconu, I told him [to create PRU – editor’s note]. I said to him: “Yes, I’ll help you out, I’ll give you ideas, I’ll point out available people!” In Romania there is the need for such a party, a nationalist party, we have to have a nationalist party in the modern sense.”
In what concerns him leaving PSD and joining PRU, the ex-premier said: “I would like to remain within PSD. I believe 99 percent of party members want me to stay.” The ex-premier sees PRU as a back-up option. Ponta announced his intention to run for a new stint in Parliament in Gorj, he even sent the party a letter of intent in this sense, but it is still not certain Liviu Dragnea, his great rival within the party, will offer him an eligible place. At any rate, even if he ends up becoming a Gorj MP again, Victor Ponta’s role within PSD will be purely decorative, as long as the party’s reins will remain in Liviu Dragnea’s hands, according to ‘Adevarul’ daily.
Victor Ponta stated he has not talked with PSD President Liviu Dragnea since the local elections in June, against the backdrop of press speculations according to which Victor Ponta and the current PSD President are vying over who should hold the supremacy within the party.
Liviu Dragnea has stated repeatedly that Victor Ponta has a guaranteed spot on PSD’s lists and has pointed out that he sees the ex-premier as being more than just an MP.
Likewise, the United Romania Party (PRU) has invited Victor Ponta to become PRU President. PRU, a party whose logo features Vlad Tepes and whose doctrine is called national-democracy, is currently engaged in a campaign to recruit MPs.
Asked in a talk-show on B1TV whether he will join PRU, Victor Ponta said: “I would like to remain within PSD, because I have been in no other party, but this is not solely up to me.” Ponta pointed out that he suspects there are people who would not want him to remain within PSD, but that he has no kind of dissatisfaction with the members of PSD, according to news.ro.
Ponta added that he did not inform the PSD leadership that he had helped PRU. “I’m under contract, but I’m not playing,” Ponta commented. Asked what would he do if the current PSD leadership were to no longer want him, Ponta replied: “Maybe they would lend me to another team.”
In fact, Ponta emphasised that the PSD leadership is yet to ask for his support in the parliamentary elections, only the members of the PSD Gorj party branch doing so. Ponta had filed with PSD Gorj a request to take part in the parliamentary elections. In fact, the ex-premier pointed out that he is yet to receive an answer from the PSD party branch in what concerns his presence on the party list in Gorj.
Victor Ponta also said that former members of his cabinet want to run in the elections and should be on the lists because they deserve it.
Ponta added that the office of PSD President does not tempt him, despite “the paranoia of some who believe I want to take over the party leadership.”
“The office does not tempt me. I don’t want to be PSD President before having a clear court decision,” Ponta said. Ponta is involved in several cases handled by the National Anticorruption Directorate, some of them sent to court, such as the case in which he is accused, alongside PSD Senator Dan Sova, of unjustifiably being paid for legal consultancy offered to the Rovinari and Turceni energy holdings.
Dragnea: PRU has relations with parties suspected of being financed from the East
PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated that the Social Democrats do not need the help of the United Romania Party nationalists, not in the campaign and not afterward either. “We don’t want to have any kind of relations with a nationalist party,” the PSD President pointed out. The statement came against the backdrop in which Bogdan Diaconu’s party has recently recruited several MPs from PSD, UNPR and PMP, ex-premier Victor Ponta being invited to join the party too.
Invoking the overt and covert “challenges” that Romania is currently facing, Liviu Dragnea pointed out that the answer cannot consist of “a nationalist or even extremist party.”
“If PRU is created or is expanding in order to help PSD, thanks but no thanks. We don’t want to have any kind of relations with a nationalist party,” the PSD President stated. He added that, from what he knows, PRU has “some protocols with some parties that have a great deal of problems” and which are “seriously suspected” of being financed from the East. Dragnea also gave an example in this sense, talking about “a Polish party whose president was arrested, from what I understood, for issues related to espionage on behalf of Russia or something like this.” [Dragnea is talking about Zmiana, a small pro-Russian party that signed a protocol of collaboration with PRU and whose leader was recently arrested for espionage – editor’s note]
In what concerns the possibility of PSD and PRU collaborating after the parliamentary elections, in order to form a parliamentary majority and to back a joint government, the PSD President was just as firm: “This option is ruled out.”
Given these circumstances, when asked what sanctions could be adopted against Victor Ponta, who publicly admitted to helping PRU recently, Dragnea gave a deliberately diplomatic answer: “We are a very open and very democratic party. Each member is free to uphold the values and principles he sees fit to uphold.”
The PSD President also pointed out that one cannot talk about the existence of “two teams” within PSD, and that the whole party is currently preoccupied with other issues, such as finalising its governing platform, the criteria for forming the list of candidates and organising the parliamentary elections.
Diaconu to Dragnea: How many times have you visited Russia since 2010 and for what purpose?
Last Thursday, PRU President Bogdan Diaconu responded to PSD President Liviu Dragnea’s accusation that his party has signed protocols with parties that have ties with Russia.
“I found out about Mr. Liviu Dragnea’s accusations against the United Romania Party, regarding imaginary links it has with Russia and the protocol that PRU allegedly has with a political party from Poland,” Bogdan Diaconu wrote on Facebook.
Referring to his “imaginary relationship with Russia,” the PRU President stated that in his 37 years of life he never went eastward beyond Chisinau, “something easy to verify by the non-civilian bodies that are friends with Mr. Dragnea,” news.ro informs.
“In what concerns the collaboration with the Polish party, I inform him that the moment we found out about the arrest of the party’s leader, PRU’s National Political Bureau unanimously voted, in May 2016, at my proposal, to cancel that protocol. I would like Mr. Dragnea to appreciate the promptness with which we sorted out these problems, but I want to take this opportunity to ask him to just as promptly and sincerely answer this question: how many times has he visited Russia since 2010 and what was the purpose of his repeated visits there?” Diaconu wrote.