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July 31, 2021

Long knives week in PNL. Who will pay the bill for the failure?

National Liberal Party got the second place in the elections, but the difference is huge, compared to PSD. While Social Democrats got 45%, PNL hardly got 20%. Liberals’ humiliation is even bigger in Bucharest, where the score is more than shameful – 12% – half of the USR’s score and less than one third of the score achieved by the Social Democrats.

Among the explanations invoked by the party’s strategists for the low score in the elections, given that the electoral map of the country became red (being clearly dominated by PSD), there is the low turnout, the cannibalization of the right-side votes by USR, as well as PMP’s entrance to the limit in the future Parliament.

Transylvania, the fiefdom deemed to be traditional for PNL, almost got totally red: Liberals still dominate, at small differences, only at the level of the Alba and Cluj Counties. In the rest of the counties, clearly won by PNL previously, including Salaj County, Dacian Ciolos’s native county, PSD has overwhelmingly won. Mircea Hava has obtained an honorable percentage of 37%, while Emil Boc’s Cluj got 27.7%. In other counties, the local Liberals tried to save what they could: PNL Arad – 33%, PNL – Calarasi – 30%, Ilfov 29.7%, Satu Mare 29%, Sibiu 28%, Bihor 27%, while Timis led by Nicolae Robu with Alina Gorghiu on top of the list reached only a modest 26%. In the rest of the historical provinces, PSD won, while Liberal branch leaders expect to be sanctioned inside the party.

This disastrous situation for PNL made Alina Gorghiu think about resignation since the elections evening. But Liberal sources stated that the branch leaders whom she consulted by the phone on this subject convinced her to postpone such a decision until a face-to-face discussion with the heads of organizations, scheduled to take place on Monday at the Modrogan headquarters. Other leaders were also expected  to this meeting with their mandates on the table: Secretary General of the party, Ilie Bolojan, the coordinator of the national campaign Gheorghe Falca, as well as the PNL Bucharest leader – Cristian Busoi. According to the quoted sources, the branches leaders hope to convince Gorghiu not to do this step until the Congress, thus hoping that by a mutual support, they will not be also subject to the sanctions for the disastrous results until then.

Meanwhile, Liberals search for scapegoats for the bitter failure.

Among the guilty persons, mayors of communes and small towns have been identified, “who, instead of being the spine of this campaign, made an agreement with PSD and didn’t urged people to go to the polls”.

Besides, PSD played intelligently in the Government through Deputy Pm Dincu. Dancu established a garnishment on the funds that had to be paid to the Liberal mayoralties for different projects and allowed only the Social Democrat mayoralties to receive money. Thinking of getting a new mandate rather than to the parliamentary elections, the Liberal mayors made agreements to receive money which delayed so much”, Liberal sources explained for stiripesurse.ro which is the main reason of the lack of mobilization found in Transylvania in particular.

The strategy focused on Dacian Ciolos is deemed to be another cause of the PNL’s failure, although the opinions are divided inside the party. While the supporters of Alina Gorghiu’s remaining in control claim that Ciolos didn’t involve enough in the campaign, and even more, he directly contributed to the party’s fall, those who feel the smell of change accuses the Liberal leadership of forcing him to leave the political neutrality, thus discrediting himself in the eyes of the voters and in particular of the undecided persons, with the already known consequences.

Another scapegoat quickly found by those who cling by the seats is deemed to be President Klaus Iohannis himself, according to the quoted sources. The nostalgic people of the player-President role believe that he is accused inside the party of not making anything to support PNL, the party that propelled him to Cotroceni and which he would have forgotten.

On the other hand, the more realistic group in the party doesn’t have any nice words for the own leadership. “They wanted internal reform and facelift, we did it: we pulled the old leaders and activists, who knew how to organize and to manage a branch, on the dead line. We removed the old people from the lists and we imposed new people to the branches, but not people from the counties in question, but from Bucharest, directly over their heads. How can people from the organization be with a so-called eligible parachuted persons, without being consulted, after they worked for so many years to increase the score of the branch? How can you ask a mayor to urge people to vote for a person that he doesn’t know, after the uninominal system accustomed him to believe that he has the right to his own parliamentarian who will represent that he and his community have in the future Parliament? Gorghiu and her people didn’t understand exactly the will of the branches and now they are paying for this. It’s a pity that the party also pays for their mistakes”, also stated the quoted sources for stiripesurse.ro.

But more than anything else, the leader seat of the party is threatened to be seriously shaken by pretenders. Even if they didn’t have an exemplary mobilization of their mayors and party activists, the leaders of the Transylvanian branches had the best results and they will set the tone in the party at the next Congress. According to the quoted sources, Ilie Bolojan and Mircea Hava could claim the leadership of the party in the coming period, remaining to be negotiated which one of them will make the back step and support the other one.

Alina Gorghiu and her collaborators have their own backup plan involving Dacian Ciolos’s accept. According to the quoted sources, in case of failure, Alina Gorghiu would retire from the leadership of the party, not before inviting Ciolos to join the party and candidate for the PNL leadership.

But in the new political context, it’s hard to believe that the former PM would be willing to assume such a difficult task as the one consisting in the reorganization and restoring this party, given that PNL is down.

Finally, another Liberal having dreams of glory is the PNL Bucharest leader Cristian Busoi. Supported by Klaus Iohannis and having strong connections with the current head of SRI Eduard Hellvig, he was hoping to get at least 20 percent in Bucharest to be able to ask Gorghiu’s resignation and to candidate for the party’s leadership. But with a disastrous score in Bucharest and with a more and more pale influence of Iohannis on PNL, Busoi is forced to give up to these plans, although some of the branch leaders still deem him an ascending star, even if his failures in series in the last elections show the contrary.

What we know for sure is that the long knives week has just started to announce itself to be a bloody one inside PNL. The man who received Alina Gorghiu on the lists, the mayor of Timisoara, Nicolae Robu, has already publicly asked elections in all the organizations and at the center, but sources inside the party claim that the pay bill will be supported rather by the local leaders, local representatives and some of the mayors, than by the county branch leaders or by the members of the central leadership.


 The movie of the day, in which Liberals have tried to escape from the reality of the polls


Liberal leaders avoided to face the press on Sunday at the party’s headquarter, and after 21.00 thay refused to accept the reality of the exit polls.

While in the first part of the day Liberals were optimistic, seeing the large number of voters going to the polls in the cities, starting from 12.00 the ambiance inside the party became more tensed with every hour.

The former leader of the old PD-L, Vasile Blaga could be seen entering in the Modrogan headquarters around 13.00 o’clock and leaving the place few hours later. PNL President Alina Gorghiu and the Secretary General of the party Ilie Bolojan came to PNL around 15.00, when source from PNL were stating for Mediafax that the party will get a score of around 25 percent in the best case.

“USR clearly wins in Bucharest” Liberals admitted bitterly, resignedly saying: “now we go ahead”.

One after another, Bucharest candidates came to the party – Hildegard Brandl, Florin Citu, Eugen Nicolaescu, as well as Liberals having “old payrolls in PNL”, like Teodor Atanasiu and Mihai Voicu. Alina Gorghiu and Teodor Atanasiu could be seen walking and discussing in private in the Modrogan Park.


 Results have been expected without enthusiasm at the PNL headquarters in Modrogan


Although the party expected to pay the vote at the elections since the half of the electoral campaign, Liberals avoided to say who should assume the disaster. After the polls closed, PNL President Alina Gorghiu refused to admit the failure, stating that “the game is still played” and that no later than Monday morning Liberals will be able to announce a good result.

Liberals hoped in vain that night will bring them another result.

At 23.00 panic was installed – the discussion was that the party doesn’t have more than 7-8% in Bucharest and it wasn’t sure if it will have at least three deputies. But in the midnight, Liberals were estimating around 11% in Bucharest, thus being saved by the shame of a single-digit score.

Besides, they were worried that the lines of the party could become thinner. The resignation of the leadership remained uncertain in the same extent, being possible that the leaders of the party will remain in office until the Congress of 2017.

The head of campaign Gheorghe Falca may invoke mitigating circumstances – he had a mild heart attack in the campaign and he had to stay in the hospital during the day.

Alina Gorghiu stated in the last week of campaign, at Timisoara, that “if the parliamentary majority that should give the PM in the person of Dacian Ciolos will not be made, she is not the only one responsible, but the whole National Political Bureau and branch leaders not producing the result to which they engaged are also responsible”.

But in October she was more determined to assume a possible failure, since it seemed less probable then.

“I assume very clearly a resignation if PNL will not be the one around which the parliamentary majority that will provide the next Romanian PM will be made”, she stated in October.


Read also: Alina Gorghiu resigns from PNL’s helm: No other gesture for me than resignation and  PNL’s Gorghiu: Those who earn merits to be fair proposals for interim positions in party’s leadership





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