Former National Liberal Party (PNL) Co-President Vasile Blaga’s meeting with the ex-PDL wing at the party headquarters in Modrogan has amplified tensions between the former Democrat Liberals and the old Liberals, political sources telling MEDIAFAX that support for Ludovic Orban’s presence at the helm of the PNL is temporary and some of the Liberals plan to remove him at a party conference.
The stake in the party consists of the eligible places on the lists for European Parliament elections, PNL President Ludovic Orban and former party leaders Vasile Blaga and Crin Antonescu being among those who could open the list, the political sources explained for MEDIAFAX. This was also the reason for Blaga’s message of support for the strengthening of the party against the backdrop of the 2019 elections year. Nevertheless, the former Co-President of the PNL emphasised that “things would stand to gain more” if communication within the party were to improve.
“We are interested in the party, this is what we have all said, we are interested in its evolution, we are interested in everything it will do in the 2019 elections year, firstly winning the presidential elections; of course, the parliamentary elections will matter too, but first the presidential elections because you see how the PSD is behaving today – like a party-state. (…) We want a strong party, there are many things to correct. My colleagues will transmit them to the party’s formal bodies, to the Executive Bureau, the National Standing Bureau, so that they would be corrected, because indeed, just like in any family, things can be improved,” Vasile Blaga said after his meeting with the former PDL members at the headquarters of the former Democrat Liberal Party (PDL) in Modrogan.
Political sources have told MEDIAFAX that the former PDL wing is dissatisfied that Ludovic Orban did not keep his word and did not observe parity when leadership offices were distributed, but that at the meeting in Modrogan they decided that the PNL President should remain at the helm of the party until after the European Parliament elections.
“Criticism was levelled and most of them talked about the deficient way in which the party is functioning, but things are not limited to Parliament alone but also to the problems within local branches. They say Orban has replaced very many branch presidents and has appointed only people loyal to him and he often did not observe parity. That a balance was not kept as he had promised before he became president. PDL says that Ludovic Orban rather feigned this parity. He tried to isolate, to downplay the ex-PDL wing. Even after the ex-PDL wing’s meeting, it was decided that Ludovic Orban will remain president until European Parliament elections and we’ll see after that,” the sources told MEDIAFAX.
During the meeting, Blaga reproached the former Democrat Liberals who are singing praises to the PNL leader, who “are telling him only what he wants to hear” and who wanted him to take part in the meeting but the ex-PDL put up massive opposition.
Arad Mayor Gheorghe Falca is among the disgruntled members of the ex-PDL wing. He reproached Ludovic Orban for the fact that, from among former Democrat Liberals, Raluca Turcan and Mircea Hava are holding the offices of First Vice Presidents, while Robert Sighiartau is Secretary General, all of them being loyal to Orban or were made loyal to him in time, and being people who do not deserve the offices they are holding, according to political sources.
Falca was also the only one who raised the issue of European Parliament elections during the meeting in Modrogan, telling his colleagues “let’s not be hypocritical by saying that there are no lists,” sources told MEDIAFAX.
After the meeting on Wednesday, PNL Suceava President Gheorghe Flutur, one of the participants, stated that the Liberals have the obligation to issue the signal of the coalescence of the right wing in the upcoming period, in order to win the next elections, this being a point of view he expressed during the meeting of the former Democrat Liberals too.
“I said three things there. The first is that the meeting between former Democrat Liberals must be urgently followed by a meeting with the party’s entire rank and file, not separately, because it wasn’t a bad thing that some of us met, there are still certain problems for which answers must be found, but the whole party must meet urgently. The rank and file, not just the informal meeting, not just the Democrat Liberals, because we are the National Liberal Party and that’s what I requested in my speech. The second thing concerns the PNL. In my view, the PNL has the obligation to give the signal of the coalescence of the right wing in the upcoming period, to win the next set of elections. Romania needs this, we must give the signal that we want this coalescence. First, we should harmonise things between ourselves after which, the next step, the signals for collaboration and coalescence of the right wing for a courageous project in the upcoming period, so that we could govern,” Gheorghe Flutur stated at a press conference in Suceava.
PNL Salaj leader Lucian Bode, who was also present at the meeting in Modrogan, stated for the local press that four years since the PDL-PNL merger there should no longer be approaches that reflect a split within the party.
“Any kind of meeting of political leaders at the central headquarters of the PNL is not a “secret” meeting! It’s a sign of political normality and maturity, rather a working meeting, not a separate meeting between the members of the former PDL. In my view, four years since the forming of the Christian Liberal Alliance and three years since the two political parties (PNL and PDL) merged, there should no longer be such approaches and perceptions that would try to reflect a distribution of PNL members based on their old political membership. Since the two parties merged, each member undoubtedly committed themselves to attaining the objectives of the new political construct. Regarding the substance of these talks, they are justified as long as, because of them, we will notice a constructive evolution of the PNL, especially in certain branches (it’s not the case of the Salaj branch, where things are perfectly harmonised). The conclusions of Wednesday’s meeting will certainly be made known to the public opinion,” House lawmaker Lucian Bode (PNL) said.
PNL voices dissatisfied that PNL leadership allowed Blaga to meet ex-PDL wing: The public perception thus created was not one of unity
Apart from some dissatisfaction with the PNL leadership on the part of former Democrat Liberals, the meeting in Modrogan also created dissensions among the old Liberals, who criticise Ludovic Orban for allowing the meeting to take place.
“How could you accept such a thing? Back in the old days those holding separate meetings were kicked out. Blaga was there and they negotiated the three places (for the former PDL – editor’s note) for the European Parliament. This was the whole trick, and Orban allowed it, knowing that that’s how he brings them into the gang. But it wasn’t really like that, because they criticised him there. They weren’t nice. And Blaga scolded the former Democrat Liberals who rallied around Orban,” according to MEDIAFAX’s sources.
The Liberals also claim that the perception created was not one of unity, as intended, but exactly the opposite, the perception that the PDL-PNL merger failed, against the backdrop in which Vasile Blaga came out to give statements for the press surrounded by former PDL members, while Ludovic Orban came out later, alone, and talked to the press.
“You, Blaga, are also saying that there are many problems within the PNL, that must be corrected, and then Orban appears a few minutes later, alone on the steps, without support, unable to give any answers. It looked very bad for everyone. He (Ludovic Orban – editor’s note) stood there for four hours, alone in his office. It’s very ugly. I’ve talked with other colleagues too and everybody was wondering what is this, why has it come to this? Now what? Do we hold a meeting with the former PNL too? That would be the last thing we need,” a member of the old PNL wing told MEDIAFAX.
“I was a bit disappointed by the appearance of the bosses. Orban played it very badly. Inside, eventually there was support for Orban, for the party, but how come they did not go out together? I didn’t understand why they did it that way. I mean they are people with so much political experience and I don’t understand how such moments were possible,” another Liberal added.
Referring to the meeting in Modrogan, Ludovic Orban stated that he was informed about and agreed with Wednesday’s meeting between Vasile Blaga and the members of the former PDL, but he did not take part in it because they probably wanted to discuss issues that concerned their history.
“I greeted all my party colleagues, I talked with my party colleagues. Apart from that, this being a discussion generated by my party colleague Blaga, it’s a discussion that any party member has the right to have, the National Liberal Party’s headquarters are open to any kind of discussions, debates, among PNL members. In what concerns me, I’m open to dialogue with all PNL members, irrespective of where they are coming from, what positions they hold, as long as they have something to communicate within the party, as long as they have beneficial ideas, as long as they get involved in the party’s activity and in the attainment of the objectives. I’m a man open to dialogue and communication. Likewise, I’m open to improving communication within and without the party,” Orban stated at the end of the meeting that Blaga had with the former Democrat Liberals, pointing out that he does not believe such meetings will take place again.
On the other hand, asked why the PNL President was not invited at the talks, Vasile Blaga said: “It was simply a meeting in which I discussed with the PNL members from the old PDL. It’s not strange at all, everyone meets whomever they want, whenever they want. Had he entered, neither my colleagues nor I would have had something against it. We had nothing to hide, otherwise we wouldn’t have come to the party’s headquarters.”
Regarding a candidacy in the European Parliament elections, Vasile Blaga said he is yet to express such an intention.
“For the time being, my colleagues will have to establish the criteria for the candidacy, then we will see which the best options are. I haven’t expressed such an intention yet. We will see what the criteria are,” the former PNL leader added, pointing out that he does not want to be party president ever again.
Blaga’s meeting with ex-PDL wing comes against backdrop in which Ludovic Orban’s party leadership is coming under increasing fire
Blaga’s meeting with the former PDL wing comes against the backdrop in which there is talk within the PNL of a list signed by 16 Liberals who plan to convene, during the party’s National Council meeting on August 4, an extraordinary party conference to topple party leader Ludovic Orban, political sources told MEDIAFAX.
The idea of drafting such a document allegedly belongs to Senator Iulian Dumitrescu (PNL), who criticised the Liberal president during a Political Bureau meeting two weeks ago. The fact that the party does not order an opinion poll to see how PNL is faring was among the things he allegedly reproached Ludovic Orban for, according to the sources. Former Democrat Liberal Gheorghe Falca, the mayor of Arad, is among the signatories of the list.
PNL National Council meeting to take place on August 4
Two weeks ago, PNL’s National Political Bureau convened a National Council meeting for August 4. Political sources have told MEDIAFAX that the event will take place in Bucharest and the presence of 1,500 PNL members is expected. PNL leader Ludovic Orban has stated that the National Council will establish the criteria, timetable, and designation procedure for the party’s European Parliament candidates.
“We will establish the criteria, procedure, timetable, during the first National Council meeting. Likewise, we have set as an objective the completion of European Parliament elections lists by the end of October, so as to start a campaign in which our candidates would be promoted, would come in direct contact with the citizens, because we want a direct campaign directed toward citizens, that would entail as many contacts as possible between our candidates, party members, and Romanian citizens,” Orban said.
He pointed out that the National Council will also take a decision on the proposed exclusion of PNL District 2 First Vice President Viorel Catarama. Referring to this proposal, the PNL President explained that by making this proposal he enforced the party’s statute against someone who talks out of order and in breach of PNL’s statutory provisions.
Vasile Blaga: I didn’t have any meeting with President Klaus Iohannis
Former PNL leader Vasile Blaga has stated for MEDIAFAX that he did not meet President Klaus Iohannis and that he has been in Mamaia for several days, against the backdrop of leaked information according to which the two allegedly met on Thursday at the Cotrocei Presidential Palace.
“I didn’t have any meeting with the President. Out of the question. I too saw the information. I’ve been in Mamaia since Friday. I’m with my family at the seaside and I’ll be staying here several days,” former PNL leader Vasile Blaga stated for MEDIAFAX.
According to leaked information, after meeting former PDL members on Thursday, Vasile Blaga allegedly met President Klaus Iohannis at the Cotroceni Palace. The press wrote that the Head of State allegedly told Vasile Blaga that he is concerned about a possible rift within the PNL and about losing electoral support in the presidential elections of 2019. In his turn, according to the leaked information, Blaga assured President Iohannis that there is no kind of danger in this regard and that the party will support him in the presidential race.
Former PNL Co-President Vasile Blaga stated on Wednesday, after meeting the former PDL wing of the party, that they want a strong party in order to win the presidential elections, against the backdrop in which the PSD is behaving “like a party state.” He added that communication must be improved within the party in this sense.
“We wanted to have a meeting without an agenda, between old colleagues, between old friends, because together we waged very many battles and most of those who were not on holiday came to this meeting. We are interested in the party, this is what we have all said, we are interested in its evolution, we are interested in everything it will do in the 2019 elections year, firstly winning the presidential elections; of course, the parliamentary elections will matter too, but first the presidential elections because you see how the PSD is behaving today – like a party-state. What would it do if it had the presidentials [sic] too? We all have this obligation to support the President in his bid to win a second term, and all colleagues agreed with these things. We want a strong party, there are many things to correct. My colleagues will transmit them to the party’s formal bodies, to the Executive Bureau, the National Standing Bureau, so that they would be corrected, because indeed, just like in any family, things can be improved,” Vasile Blaga said.
On June 23, in a press statement in Sibiu, President Klaus Iohannis announced that he will run for a new term in office.
“I have taken an important decision and I want to inform you now, here, on this beautiful morning: I’m firmly determined to run for another term in office,” Head of State Klaus Iohannis stated.
PNL President Ludovic Orban subsequently informed that the party will support Klaus Iohannis’s candidacy in the 2019 presidential elections.