Second echelon of leading positions taken by supporters of Emil Boc. Blaga, Paleologu concede defeat vow to remain in the party. President Basescu calls for unity.
As widely anticipated, PM Emil Boc on Saturday easily won a second term as head of the ruling Democrat Liberal Party (PDL), obtaining 369 votes more than his main challenger, Vasile Blaga. Boc won 868 votes, while Blaga got 499 and the third candidate in the race, Deputy Theodor Paleologu, got only 24. The results come as no surprise, as most of the 1,400 delegates to the ruling party’s convention were expected to vote for the prime minister. Moreover, Boc’s candidacy was also endorsed by President Traian Basescu, who attended Saturday’s convention.
In his speech after the results of the vote were announced, Boc thanked his rivals and underlined that both Blaga and Paleologu are needed in the party’s leadership.
“I thank Vasile Blaga for the elegance of competition in PDL and Theodor Paleologu for making possible a democratic debate,” he said, quoted by Mediafax. Boc also called on all party members to remain united regardless of what platform they supported in the election. Moreover, he underlined that the result of the vote forces him more than ever to maintain the party victorious.
“PDL is the only victor this evening. We will win in 2012 together with Romania and the Romanians (…). There’s no time for festivities and champagne. It’s time to work, at the service of Romanians and of PDL,” Boc added.
Both Blaga and Paleologu conceded defeat and vowed that neither they nor their supporters will leave the party.
“Today we entrusted the PDL leadership to Emil Boc and I don’t envy him. This will be a very difficult time in which this beautiful team will have to spare no efforts in order to win the 2012 elections. It won’t be easy,” Blaga said. “Those who voted for me will not leave PDL either,” Paleologu said, adding that he would “have his revenge” at the second day of the convention, yesterday, as he also filed his candidacy for first vice president, vice president and executive secretary. He was elected vice president yesterday after falling short of gathering the necessary number of votes for a first VP seat.
After the election, several of Boc’s supporters voiced appreciation for Blaga and insisted that he should remain part of PDL’s leadership. Theodor Stolojan said Blaga should be part of PDL’s Standing Bureau or leader of the party’s group in the Senate. Blaga, who was secretary general until the election, said yesterday however that he can help the party from outside the Standing Bureau as well and that he would not be head of the party’s Senate group.
Boc’s winning platform had three major objectives: the country’s modernisation, continuing governance by winning next year’s legislative elections, and reforming the PDL. In his speech before the vote, Boc presented an activity report for his activity as party leader, underlining that PDL is a “party of winners” and it will manage to win next year’s elections. He thanked Romanians for “having had the power to support us to go through the worst part of the economic crisis” and also sent out his gratitude to the party’s leading team.
Boc also underlined that he knows the things that need to be corrected in the party and how to modernise the organisation, asking delegates to vote “with their own mind and heart.” Last but not least, Boc also blasted the opposition, underlining that PDL must remain united to fight the populist “Social Alliance,” in reference to the Liberal-Social Democrat USL (Social Liberal Union). He ironically thanked Social-Democrat leader Victor Ponta for “managing to destroy the National Liberal Party,” which thus cannot claim it represents the right-wing anymore.
Boc got praises from several of his supporters on Saturday, all of them insisting that Boc was the right choice to give continuity to the organisation and make the party victorious in next year’s elections. Another message conveyed by Boc’s supporters was that the current party leader and prime minister is the only one capable of continuing the partnership with President Basescu.
“The person who led this (national) reform process, who is awinner and made a team with President Basescu, is Emil Boc,” Ioan Oltean said, while PDL Bucharest leader Elena Udrea underlined that Boc won all election battles he was involved in and that his re-election as head of the party is crucial for Romania’s fate “because Romania’s governance depends on the future we make for ourselves today.”
Boc was also praised as the “most honest prime minister Romania has ever had” by Defence Minister and National Union for Romania Progress (UNPR) leader Gabriel Oprea, who was invited to the convention. Oprea also said that he had good collaboration with Blaga as well, while the latter was interior minister.
In his speech, Blaga underlined that the party “does not work” and it needs a change and a new strategy in order to win the 2012 elections. He warned that PDL is about to lose Romanians’ confidence and must strive to rebuild the relationship between politicians and citizens. “We must leave this state of isolation, we must have dialogue with citizens. If we do not do this, we will speak alone in the bathroom,” Blaga said. Paleologu told delegates that a vote for him would be “useful” for all those who want a real right-wing party, who want more for culture, education, research and innovation. He also told party members that they shouldn’t be afraid to make their voice heard, after which he asked the president’s daughter Elena Basescu, “Let me ask EBA: Am I right that nobody would mind?”
Other leading posts go to Boc supporters
Most positions in the second echelon of the party were taken by Boc’s camp as well, after several of Blaga’s supporters withdrew from the race. Delegates voted for party first vice presidents, secretary general and vice presidents on the second day of the convention yesterday. The vote for vice presidents and first vice presidents was marred by controversy, amid reports that delegates were given a list with the names of those that had to be elected. The existence of such a list was initially denied by several party leaders, but later on, both Boc and Udrea said the flyers were “an act of lobbying,” not an attempt to dictate the results of the vote.
The four vice president positions were taken by Gheorghe Flutur, Sorin Frunzaverde, Roberta Anastase and Teodor Baconschi. Of these, Frunzaverde was the only one who supported Blaga for PDL leader. The secretary general post was won by Ioan Oltean, also a Boc supporter.
Similarly, the list of 15 new vice presidents includes many Boc backers and cabinet ministers: Elena Udrea, Anca Boagiu, Traian Igas, Gheorghe Stefan. The so-called ‘reformist wing’ of the party, which sided with Boc in the election, also won two VP positions through ex Justice Minister Monica Macovei and Sever Voinescu. Paleologu won a VP seat as well. Initially, party sources said Blaga’s supporters had been offered a number of leading positions in the party and suggested that this matter was discussed during a meeting between Boc and Blaga at the party headquarters on Saturday night. However, part of Blaga’s supporters, including Cristian Boureanu and Constantin Ostaficiuc (running for first vice presidents) and Cezar Preda (who was running for secretary general) decided to withdraw their candidacies in the wake of Boc’s victory.
New rumours that Boc might be replaced as pm
Boc’s re-election as head of PDL gave birth to new rumours that he might be replaced as head of the government really soon. Party sources told Mediafax that several of Boc’s supporters want him to remain only party leader. According to the same sources, President Basescu himself wants to replace the current government, most likely with a team led by a technocrat, in order to restore credibility to the act of governance.
When asked after the convention whether he would resign as PM, Boc gave no answer. Queried about the matter in the past, Boc always replied that he was never asked to quit as PM and that he plans on staying on until his term ends next year.
Party sources also said that Basescu and Boc were set to have a private meeting on Saturday night after the convention. This meeting could have discussed the possibility of replacing Boc, but no reports emerged about what was actually discussed by the two officials.
According to HotNews.ro, Boc and Blaga also had a meeting with Basescu at Cotroceni Palace yesterday, reportedly to discuss the prime minister position. No decision was made in the meeting, talks only focusing on how appropriate the idea to appoint a new PM would be and on how much support for such a move there is inside PDL, according to the website.
In a speech to PDL delegates however, new Secretary General Oltean insisted that there had been no meetings between Basescu and party leaders on Saturday night or yesterday.