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January 29, 2022

Clotilde Armand: “Of course, I thought about running for USR’s presidency”. Why Nicusor Dan fears Dacian Ciolos

“Of course, I thought about running for the party’s presidency,” Clotilde Armand answered when asked whether she mulls entering the race to become the political party’s future leader. However, she claims that she has not decided whether to run for office or not, but knows for sure what she would want: an internal competition involving as many people as possible, an open party with several leaders.

An extremely powerful PR vector during the elections campaign, Clotilde Armand has almost disappeared from the media’s spotlight lately, while the debates within the Save Romania Union (USR) have grown more heated than ever, gandul.info writes.

“I wouldn’t want a party where there is a single candidate who is voted by everyone and then it would be more of a formal vote,” Clotilde Armand said, admitting he wants Dacian Ciolos to join USR but stating that in the short run the talks seem closed since the ex-Premier does not want to be “instrumentalised,”

Firstly, because of a possible collaboration with Dacian Ciolos, a project that seems stillborn, at least for now, but also because of the preparations for the party’s first conference, which will decide who will lead the party from now on. Nicusor Dan is the favourite by far, Clotilde Armand believes, but this does not mean he should not have contenders. Quite the contrary, the Bucharest District 1 Mayoralty’s adviser believes, avoiding to name whom she would see as the right person to take over the leadership of the USR.

“I’m not decided, I’d like a party where there are several candidates. I wouldn’t like a party where there is a single candidate whom everybody votes and then it would be more of a formal vote. I’d like an open party, as I said before, a party that grows people, a party where there are several leaders and this is what I’d like: a party with several candidates for the role of president,” Armand explained for ‘Gandul.’

The possibility of Ciolos running for the leadership of USR in the near future is very distant, Armand believes, because the ex-Premier “doesn’t want to be instrumentalised,” but that does not mean she will not fight, alongside those who back him, for a relationship as close as possible. An option she has considered is her own candidacy, Clotilde Armand states, even though she claims that she is yet to take a final decision.

“Of course, I thought about it. I haven’t decided. (…) I haven’t announced any decision yet, because I haven’t taken one either, so then it wouldn’t make sense to make speculations. Our problem at this hour is not who our leader would be. The problem is how we see the party’s future, how we’ll clarify our doctrine and which personalities we need by our side. The president will be the result of these talks,” the Bucharest District 1 Mayoralty’s adviser answered when asked whether she has mulled running for USR’s presidency, a battle that, at least at this moment, is foreshadowed to be mainly against Nicusor Dan. Another option for the party’s leadership is Cristian Ghinea, Armand believes, and this also because his pro-Ciolos stance won him a lot of sympathisers within USR, she explained.

Although she says that debate and a diversity of ideas and of people are some of the party’s desiderata, Armand nevertheless sees something extremely clear: “It’s clear Nicusor Dan has maintained, out of everything he built, a legitimacy that may overcome the debates that will take place, he’s the only leader for whom an exception could indeed be made. Meaning even though he doesn’t think like most people do, he could be kept because of the past. But, at the same time, it’s important for the party to be aligned with the party boss.” This does not necessarily mean that he could force his opinion on the majority, “but he can impose his own person, yes,” Armand also believes.

In view of a direct confrontation for USR’s leadership, which Armand rather sees as being constructive, conducive to the forming of more leaders, she admits that the relationship between herself and Nicusor Dan changed after the discussions that followed the exclusion of her husband – Sergiu Moroianu – from the party, the fact that their opinions differ on the Ciolos topic being proof of that too. Nevertheless, she insisted that everything can be solved through dialogue. Does this dialogue exist, does it come from both sides? The answer to this question came somewhat hesitatingly: “On my part, of course there is. I told you, as long as there is admiration for what was done, there is also a path of dialogue,” Armand emphasised.

“Nicusor Dan is a person my husband and I have known for a very long time, whom we’ve supported for a very long time, and for us he’s the man who opened this path, he’s a pioneer, he was a man with exemplary determination. And for me he remains an example. The fact that now we disagree with him is another issue, but for me he remains the man that we’ve backed for 20 years. (…) The fact that now I disagree with him… this too is a fact,” she added.

In brief, Armand and Nicusor Dan are at this moment the exponents of two different “currents of thought” within USR, separated by the image of Dacian Ciolos, who has lately sparked heated debates. How did these two camps form, considering that during the elections campaign the USR members were declaring their confidence in the ex-Premier’s profile and were unconditionally backing him for a new term?

“There were different opinions within the party, my opinion is that we must continue to be an open party. I’ve personally brought very many people within the USR, independent of their doctrine, and I’ve focused much more on their profile as professionals and on the value of the said persons. And for me, the fact that this person was already known or already had a role was more than positive. I’ve had a very significant role when I brought the technocrats within USR and, obviously, I personally very much support Mr Ciolos joining USR. (…) I understand this is no longer an option in the short run, but in the medium run of course I’ll do everything possible for persons and personalities who share our values to join USR, to fight alongside us,” Armand insisted, stating she will not give up on Ciolos joining the party whose member she is.

Referring to the explanations given by those who disagree with her, Armand wants “to believe they are sincere,” but considers herself more pragmatic. While Nicusor Dan invoked, both in televised statements and on Facebook, the reasons why he does not consider it advisable to move closer to the ex-Premier, Armand believes that “if a personality has the profile required and the values required, his entry at a level that corresponds to his competences must be negotiated eventually.”


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