*Interview with Agerpres of National Liberal Party (PNL) Chairperson Alina Gorghiu
The election campaign has begun, your first campaign as PNL Chairperson. What novelties does it bring for PNL and how do you see the new voting system?
We have gone through the local election, when we managed a honorable share of 32 percent. It is a completely new campaign from the perspective of the tickets we are talking about, because we have over 60 percent of new people on the lists. There are very many under 40. It is a new stage in the PNL reconstruction. Even if I hear all kinds of comments, more or less malicious, I believe in the new brand of PNL – a party open to the people outside or to people from the second or third layers of our politics, who haven’t been in the limelight of politics and haven’t been worn out as people with a long time in high level politics could be. There are high quality people, with an irreproachable resume, there are many businessmen, medical staff, people in the education area, and, generally, I can talk about a plurality of factors that can mean a recipe for success at the end of these elections. I am talking about this very good team, I am talking about an articulate governance programme, with which we came out to the public space and which we explained, our strong points, and mirroring what the Social Democratic Party [PSD] proposes and the proposal for prime minister, which shows that we are the first and only party in Romanian politics which wants transparency since the beginning to the end in front of the electors.
The novelty of the electoral system is one that maybe, at the most, could confuse you in terms of campaign organisation, but coming back to tickets I believe it highlights more the idea of party, the political brand, the team idea, and, in the end, a sort of loyalty which the person in question should have for the party for which they run. Namely, I would hope to have as less political defection as possible after these election, so to speak.
What score does the PNL propose to obtain in these elections and what are the internal evaluations?
We don’t talk about a score and I will not give out share as they are not relevant. However, I would like to start from a high voter turnout. At least for the Right-Wing voters of Romania, who many times are hard to persuade to come to vote I would send the message that it is essential for the PNL to have a Parliament legitimated through a great number of votes and I believe that, if this high voter turnout is a scored out premise, then the PNL score in these elections will be a very good one. Otherwise, it is important to have that result that should mean the formation of a parliamentary majority meant to create the possibility to implement the governance programme.
No party candidates for the sake of having MPs and only that. Any party enters an electoral competition to show that it has articulate reform projects to further lead Romania with and not lead it backwards, as those with the PSD want.
I would like to tell you that there are a few key-projects we are very fond of and which, together with the future government, must implement in the first year of governance. I am talking about that Bank of Development and Investments of Romania, which is an important project for PNL, a project that complements the Romanian urban-rural development fund, projects that bring to Romania the investment of other 24 billion euro in the country’s economy along 4 years, thought on the period of a governance mandate. There are projects dedicated to everything that means large investment project, projects addressed to investors in Romania, those who, many times unfortunately, are neglected by the Romanian state and by everything that means Romanian administration. We are talking about the Bank of Development and Investments of Romania, for which you should know we planned an initial capital of 200,000 million euro and will operate with a multiplier of at least 1 to 5, namely a funding portfolio of at least 1 billion euro. I am giving you these figures so the entrepreneurs watching us, the business environment of Romania can understand, as this project is designed for them.
In regards to the healthcare area the PNL has important priorities, from the doctor’s house, for whom we think about 900 units of those type and it basically means an incentive so that the doctor goes and lives and does those primary analysis for patients in the small urban area and rural environment, meaning exactly where the population isn’t benefiting from the specialized sanitary services. We are talking about projects in education, which means the training, early schooling, namely when the child turns 4 years old, the school after school project, that would offer ones, as an active family in Romania, the possibility to manage both the work and the child in the educational unit respectively. The projects regarding the demography, meanwhile because we have facilities for the families which are waiting a third child, fiscal facilities and analysis for pregnant mothers. There are many projects that target Romania’s welfare, the family being, in the end, the center of this project. However, I believe that the most important thing is the principle from where we begin, namely that the Romanian citizen is in the center of attention in PNL’s governance programme.
Is there the possibility that the PNL won’t take enough votes in order to be a majority party and then be in the situation to make majority with other formations …
Yes, we won’t take 50 percent plus 1. No party in Romania will take 50 percent plus 1 of the sears, so it can rule on its own. That is a certainty.
Who could the PNL make the majority with?
Now it depends very much on what parties will be entering the Parliament. I believe there will be small parties such as the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), or for instance the People’s Movement Party (PMP), that have two leaders who are politically tired, so to say, who are at the top of politics for 26 years and didn’t prove anything, they only managed to destroy institutions, throughout the time or to discredit institutions, and I believe that they will not enter the Parliament, in my opinion. As such I won’t be talking about the two of them.
I will say the PSD, which categorically we won’t be forming a government with, and I say categorical because we know how ravenously the PSD is, especially in the formula led by Liviu Dragnea. I know that they want any position in the state, but they don’t see what common Romanian means. And I will give you as an example Liviu Dragnea, the one who leads for a long time the Teleorman County, which is one of the most poor counties in Romania. I don’t see how he cared about the county he represents, but otherwise he talks about a lot of things in politics. The Save Romania Union (USR) is a party that I can see in Parliament, it’s a new party that represents a certain segment of Romania’s population, of Romanian’s electors, that it would be very good to be represented in Parliament. Nevertheless we have a mutual project that is titled Dacian Ciolos, but an alliance pre or post-election isn’t on the table with the USR or the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR), which surely will be entering the Parliament, whether with over 5 percent, or with the alternative threshold stipulated by the electoral election. A UDMR which will make calculations, pragmatic as usual, that will support or if it will enter in a governance formula with some or others. I wouldn’t make them any invitation, not to them nor to anybody else. I wouldn’t want to make any other prediction. I’m convinced that the PNL, even without gathering 50 percent plus 1 of the seats, will be in the center of a parliamentary majority formula, that will generate the Ciolos Government.
Is PNL having a shadow government yet?
We have some names, two or three proposals, for each portfolio, people who could be minister any time, we have no emotions about them. We also look at other names, outside the party. We could preserve, let’s say, the Justice minister as a technical expert. I’m not talking of the person, but of the portfolio itself, it could be a specialist to administrate very well the system’s activity. There are plenty of ministries which could impose persons close to political parties, but not necessarily members.
If the PNL manages to have the majority, do you envisage the position of Chairman of the Senate, in particular because the PNL used to have this position, or a minister’s job?
I’m thinking that it is embarrassing that the Senate’s top position is filled with who is filled and if we still talk of a left wing, right wing electorate; I recommend those who are of the left wing to directly vote PSD. I have no plans in connection with any positions I could fill. I’m only concerned of winning this election so far, so we could enforce our project. It is a project that has been debated, discussed, and could be enforced exclusively with a team of compatible people with the profile of Dacian Ciolos and then whoever is going to manage the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies it is irrelevant.
And minister, out of the question! That is not a job I wish. I believe that the party and the party members should make intelligent choices. In general, the political party when at rule rather forgets to follow the party policy and focuses on the ruling policy. I believe we should be more rational and take care that the party policy is dynamic and never fade in front of the government work.
The task of appointing a new head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) also falls on the “shoulders” of the future Parliament, as the head of the state announced. Does PNL have a name for SIE head?
Our proposal will come from the President of Romania. We’ll see at that time what the proposal will be and to what extent we’ll support it, only that, as you know the President of Romania, the proposal for head of the Foreign Intelligence Service will be an extremely fit one. I have no hesitation in saying that in general the proposals coming from the Presidency have been very good. We and our fellow MPs voted for Mihai-Razvan Ungureanu because otherwise, since we didn’t have a majority, the proposal wouldn’t have cleared Parliament. I am less concerned with who will be heading SIE, my concern is rather that we have a committee to supervise both the SRI and the SIE, that properly exercises civilian control and that people are appointed who really do a good job there and don’t raise suspicions that they have been appointed by various institutions to act obediently or play into their hands. I would want people who really exercise this supervision in a proper way, for Parliament to supervise any institution, whether we speak of the Government, the intelligence services, with any other institution it cooperates with or reporting to it.
Back to the election campaign, the Liberals speak of PNL’s clean tickets, but there are still certain issues, like recently Mr. Nicoara’s case….
Our Decalogue says that people should comply with ten criteria. One of them is related to acts of corruption, which is not the case.
You were saying you would resign if no majority is formed around PNL. Given such circumstances, would Dacian Ciolos be an option for the Liberal leadership?
My answer was to a question that went like this: What will you be doing after the election? And I said that the two scenarios are valid for any political party. There is the scenario where you win the election or mount a parliamentary majority that allows you to impose your own government and candidate for prime minister and so the entire the party is happy and forget about small clashes in drawing up lists or appointing ministers and everyone is happy to set forth a governing programme that will change Romania. Under a second scenario, you lose the election and of course any normal, rational leader who takes responsibility for the unfortunate management of elections would resign. Obviously, there is no question that if PNL losses the election nobody will stay put in office. What Dacian Ciolos makes after the election is his business. At this moment, he has a tenure to carry through. Until December 11, he will not participate in the election campaign; he will be at the Government House finalising the projects he has started and wants to bring up to a certain level, but I can honestly tell you that we would like him to join us.
Describe in one word the next politicians: Klaus Iohannis, Dacian Ciolos, Liviu Dragnea, Traian Basescu, Victor Ponta, Elena Udrea, Vasile Blaga, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, Ion Iliescu, Mircea Ionescu Quintus, Crin Antonescu, Adrian Nastase, Nicusor Dan, Kelemen Hunor.
Klaus Iohannis – powerful; Dacian Ciolos- premier; Liviu Dragnea – Teleorman poor, not to use a word; Traian Basescu – failure; Victor Ponta – who is Victor Ponta?!?; Elena Udrea – candidate; Vasile Blaga – friend; Calin Popescu-Tariceanu – disappointment; Ion Iliescu – Revolution or miners riot; Mircea Ionescu-Quintus – an exceptional man, part of our history; Crin Antonescu – what word for Crin Antonescu? It is a pity that he stepped out of politics, it is the only thing that comes to my mind. He is a man who’s very dear to me; Adrian Nastase – Social Democratic Party’s reasoning outside PSD; Nicusor Dan – potential future mayor; Kelemen Hunor – pragmatic to a fault.