Dan Barna was elected on Saturday, at the party congress at Poiana Brasov, president of the Save Romania Union (USR), with 127 of the 191 valid votes cast. His contender, senator Vlad Alexandrescu, a former minister of culture won 50 votes. Fourteen votes were cancelled.
The so-called “Nicusor faction” which consists of the supporters of Cristian Seidler – who bowed out of the race for the party’s leadership – did not take part in the party conference, complaining of irregularities in the way the delegates were selected. They even threatened to challenge in court the party congress and its results.
In his speech before the delegates, Dan Barna said that the party owes Nicusor Dan a lot, that his resignation was a mistake that led to the creation of deep fault lines within the party, and explained that USR’s objective is to nominate the Premier after the parliamentary elections of 2020.
Likewise, he repeatedly called for unity and reconciliation between USR’s factions.
“I’m asking you to stop the USR vs USR civil war. It’s time we put an end to it. Let’s admit our mistakes and re-learn to trust each other. Let’s look at what brings us closer together, not at what sets us apart. Let’s behave like adults and not like kids. Let’s become those who set the agenda, not the victims of other people’s agendas,” he added.
Dan Barna will be USR president for a limited two-year term, another party conference set to take place in the spring of 2019, before the parliamentary elections.
USR founder Dan: Not attending the USR congress convention; cannot endorse vitiated convention
Founder of the Save the Romania Union (USR) Nicusor Dan, says he has refused an invitation to attend the extraordinary convention of the USR Congress held on Saturday in Poiana Brasov, because he cannot “endorse a vitiated convention by my presence.”
”I was invited to the USR congress convention today. I understand there was a debate and a vote in the National Bureau where some were for and others were against me being invited. I have chosen not to participate. I cannot endorse, by my presence, a vitiated convention through practices worthy of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and the National Liberal Party (PNL). The election of the Bucharest delegates was cancelled contrary to the statutes, as the party’s jurist MPs say, and rebuilt on a system different from that used in the rest of the counties,” Dan writes in a Facebook post.
According to him, there is “a huge pressure” on USR to “abandon its mission” and to become a “party like any other.”
”USR consists of people of good faith and may still accomplish the mission for which it was established. In Sibiu this January and in Cluj this May, I tried to keep USR members with their feet on the ground and to point out the main risks for the organisation. If I have to state the main risks for USR, they would be: 1) fanaticism and radicalisation of camps (as a result of internal referendum – positioning/non-positioning) – no one listens to the rational arguments of the other; 2) tolerance of illegality – the proven violation of the statutes is not of interest; 3) lack of reaction to fake information spread through informal networks,” he says.
In Dan’s opinion, the future USR national leader will have very a bad start, no matter who that is.
“Anyhow, [there will be] a very bad start for the future national leader of USR, whoever that will be: a leader who has already violated the statutes as a member of the National Bureau by the decision on the elections in Bucharest; a leader elected by a congress convention with many question marks that many delegates have chosen not to attend; a leader with no legitimacy,” says Dan.
Prior to the party’s convention, the interim national leader of USR Levente Elek told Agerpres that the congress convention was statutory and the boycott of some of the party members will not affect the legitimacy of the future leader to be elected.
Second USR congress in less than six months
USR ended up in the situation of holding the second party congress in the party’s history less than six months after its first one, after USR founder and president Nicusor Dan resigned and left the party in June, against the backdrop of differences of opinion regarding USR’s stance on the Coalition for Family’s initiative to amend the Constitution so that it would define the family as the union between a man and a woman.
On May 31, less than two weeks after the party conference that had elected Nicusor Dan party president, the party’s central leadership voted to position USR against the Coalition for Family’s initiative. Since he had militated for USR not to adopt a stance on this issue, arguing that he refuses to be member of a party that implicitly defines itself as a party of civil liberties, since this would limit USR’s pool of voters, Nicusor Dan announced, on June 1, his resignation from the office of party president and his decision to leave the party.
On the same day, Nicusor Dan stated that he would return to the party if a party leadership body superior to the National Bureau were to cancel the decision to adopt a stance on the family issue, pointing out that if that does not happen he will wait for the emergence of a party in which he could find his bearings.
However, the decision was upheld by USR’s Political Committee too, and then by the internal referendum organised at the level of the whole party, this leading to the convening of another party conference in order to elect a new party president.
Dan Barna: PSD is the real enemy for USR; purges after party congress are out of the question; possibility of winning Bucharest City Hall via Nicusor Dan remains open
New USR President Dan Barna stated on Saturday, in Poiana Brasov, that PSD remains the real enemy for USR, and gave assurances that the party members who boycotted the party congress in which he was elected party leader will not be purged. Likewise, Barna said that he regrets Nicusor Dan’s statements according to which the party congress was vitiated, pointing out that the possibility of winning the Bucharest City Hall via Nicusor Dan remains open.
“USR is a party that will continue to be the active Opposition. The real enemy for us is PSD, which is taking Romania in an area of confiscating public resources for a clique of people who want to steal them and to place themselves in a haven from the law,” Dan Barna stated at the first press conference in which he took part in his new capacity as USR President.
Asked what message he has for Nicusor Dan, who had said that the party conference is “vitiated by practices worthy of PSD and PNL,” Barna stated that his election as party president is as legitimate as possible, since 70 percent of the delegates voted.
“It’s one of the sad things of this day, the fact that Nicusor Dan, placing himself outside the party, felt the need to convey his anger. In what concerns the legitimacy, there is no doubt here. Seventy percent of the party conference’s delegates voted at the party conference, so we’re not talking about one or two votes. Basically, of the 276 delegates, 191 cast their votes. Even more delegates, around 210, participated, which shows that, indeed, the party conference is the representative body that is respected. The wide majority expressed its desire for USR to move forward, to put an end to a stage of turmoil that the ex-president’s resignation generated at that moment. The message of the members, which I understood today, is that the expectation is for us to set out on the Opposition party road that we assumed in December’s elections,” Dan Barna said.
He gave assurances that he will not start a campaign of purges among the party members that challenged the party conference.
“In what concerns this topic of possible purges that might take place within the party depending on who wins these elections, I want to be unequivocal: it’s fake news – it’s true, but the opposite way around and not at all. Purges are out of the question. There is no initiative or intention to purge people from the party. This is nevertheless 2017, not the 1950s,” he claimed.
Asked whether Nicusor Dan remains an option as USR candidate in the elections for the Bucharest City Hall, Barna answered affirmatively.
“I’m convinced that Nicusor Dan made the statement about an illegitimate president without knowing exactly the number of participants in this party conference. In what concerns the possibilities of winning the Bucharest City Hall via Nicusor Dan endorsed by USR, they continue to remain open. Today we’re talking about Nicusor Dan as an alternative to Firea? Yes, Nicusor Dan is the better alternative,” the new USR President concluded.