A favorable conjuncture

What sets Ludovic Orban apart from other Liberal leaders? Stauncher opposition to the PSD, expressed not just recently, which cost him years of relative marginalization. Apart from that, he seems a typical Liberal, not much different from the majority of politicians seen in the last quarter of century. In brief, he belongs more to the past, his reformist potential being low. PNL will probably not change a lot under his leadership. Nevertheless, it has chances to distance itself from the Social Democrats, who are now on the threshold of chaos that will surely cost them a new electoral success. In other words, this time around, Ludovic Orban arrived just in time – he tried it before – to prepare the party’s political revenge. More so since there are no alternatives: ALDE will collapse before PSD does, PMP will go down with Traian Basescu, and USR risks not growing after its spectacular jump in the elections. PNL has a clear running lane and only its lack of inspiration and fighting spirit could deprive it of the future success. But Ludovic Orban was not always so refractory to PSD. While he was minister within Premier Tariceanu’s Government, he closed his eyes to the Social Democrats’ tacit parliamentary support, without which it would not have survived following its complete break with President Basescu’s former party. It was back then that the alliance “against nature” that was to become the novel USL was formed, moment in which Orban positioned himself against the current. As expected, his prevision came true, but the blemish of this collaboration accentuated the relative electoral failure – failure rather because serious competitors were absent on the right side of the political spectrum, and PNL was already the result of the merger of two significant parties, which should have doubled its voters.

Nevertheless, Orban is the man of the past, the one who waited too long to lead the party. The simple anti-PSD fight will not renew the party, and the massive voter abstention registered in the latest elections shows the need for a major change. If USR does not give in to the blackmail of its former president Nicusor Dan, and learns the art of opportune positioning, the party will be a more serious alternative for the future. And will be able to steal enough voters precisely from PNL. In fact, Ludovic Orban is not right. The left-right cleavage is no longer as significant as it was in the past. The problem with the alliance with PSD was not an ideological one, but one of opportunism based on clique interests. Victor Ponta’s PSD was not too left-wing, nor was Crin Antonescu’s PNL too right-wing. It is not a “return” to the “true” right wing that PNL needs, but a political programme adapted to Romanian society’s potential for reform. A party that plans to replace not just PSD but also PSD’s stale political culture needs new people and new ideas.

It is for naught that PNL’s new president says that the party is full of many Dacian Ciolos. Not that the ex-Premier is an exceptional unicum, but his independence in relation to party politics is difficult to make up for in an environment in which intrigues determine the leaders’ qualities. Moreover, it is hard to believe Orban would endorse Ciolos at the helm of a new Government, even at the expense of his own candidacy. On the other hand, he can use the uncontestable prestige of President Klaus Iohannis, already announcing he will politically support him for a new term in office. At any rate, with Ludovic Orban, PNL’s life will be extended before a major crisis, at least as long as no competitor to match it appears. If a Romanian Emmanuel Macron were to enter the game tomorrow, the wings of Orban’s party would be clipped, wings that otherwise will grow in the near future.

Related posts

EY: COVID-19 accelerates interest in 5G, support is needed to implement


The professionals

A new global order?