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December 1, 2021

A tiny political party on life support

ALDE co-president Daniel Constantin is on the verge of being kicked out of the party. For the time being, the dispute will enter a legal stage, which may complicate an otherwise fairly simple political development. The other co-president, Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, wants to take the lion’s share after he became once again the holder of the second-highest office in the state, but at the same time strengthened his governmental position too. He is no longer only Senate Speaker – an office he had received in the previous legislature despite not yet having even the minuscule Liberal Reformist Party, which at any rate never went through any electoral test –, but also the leader of a ruling coalition partner without which the necessary ruling majority would be unthinkable. Now he forms a political couple with Liviu Dragnea, just like PNL’s Crin Antonescu formed with Premier Victor Ponta. He is the second man in the state, but also the second man of the ruling coalition. And since the PSD President is not an Adrian Nastase capable of carrying on his own the “burden” of media over-exposure, Tariceanu seems to be even more than a second-in-command. He is, in other words, a key man in the layout of the current ruling power. That is why his pretensions have grown. And he wants to completely control his tiny political party. Which nevertheless has a co-president. Seen from the inside, the share held by the former Conservatives is not negligible at all. The former PC had not just years of existence (under another name), but also the experience of governance. Tariceanu’s tiny political party does not compare as weight factor. It is true, however, that its representatives did not stand out, albeit because their party had always been one of compromise and even (political) betrayal. What mattered were not values but the openness to entering any political combination in order to gain a seat in the ruling power area.

If the break-up between the two camps takes place, it is possible that not very many will follow Constantin. The taste of power could convince many not to quit certainty for hope. But supposing that their number may be sufficiently high as to put into question the parliamentary majority, PSD has a solution at hand: UDMR. The Magyars can hardly wait to once again enter the Government. Just like the former PC, their openness borders on political prostitution. UDMR is already a party very similar to PSD from the standpoint of political mores. There is already a protocol of parliamentary collaboration which can be easily extended. The problem is that the Senate Speaker risks leading a party without any future growth potential. Even as it is, it is surprising it barely entered Parliament – and one of the explanations for that is the network of former PC activists, definitely larger and more efficient than that of the tiny PLR.

At any rate, the period of massive street protests has discredited the Senate Speaker in front of a significant part of the electorate, presenting him as a once-independent leader who has now fallen into the role of PSD’s vassal. Instead of being an alternative to Dragnea’s style, Tariceanu has become his political double. Which reduces even more the image of a real coalition, ALDE being perceived merely as the “great party’s” annex. Tariceanu is not helped by his followers either, their notoriety as “stained” politicians being overwhelmingly negative. At least the former Conservatives are almost anonymous, in contrast to the former Liberals who have plenty of scandals behind them – such as former minister Daniel Barbu, highly contested at the time.

Not only does ALDE lack a bright future ahead, but it almost lacks any future at all. Especially if Constantin is excluded – or leaves on his own, taking some of the MPs –, the party will only survive artificially, rallying around a leader who is, likewise, kept on life support by PSD. Fresh forces have nowhere to come from to this small party that is at any rate politically spent. It is very likely this will be its last legislature.

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