The leaders of the National Liberal Party (PNL) have voted last night in the National Political Bureau to officially start the negotiations with the Social Democratic Party (PSD) to form a new Cabinet. The Liberals condition the negotiations of they having the prime minister and of a ruling programme starting from Liberal measures and of a partnership with the Romanian President. There have been 48 votes in favour and 22 against.
Liberals argued they had chosen the Social Democrats as future partners in order to coagulate a majority that “ensures Romania the stability it needs to overcome the political and health crises.”
“Staying in power is not an end in itself for the PNL, but a necessity for fulfilling all the objectives assumed in the governing programme. The negotiations will take place starting Tuesday, with a clear roadmap, related to the objectives in the governing programme of the PNL,” said the Liberal Party in a press statement.
PNL further pointed out that there are some principles that are not negotiable, namely the establishement of a majority around the party, with a Liberal Prime Minister, the continuation of the PNRR (the National Recovery and Resilience Plan), securing Romania’s macroeconomic stability, observing the budget deficit trajectory, as assumed by the government before the EC, operating no increases in taxes, and maintaining the state as an honest partner of the business environment, continuing reforms on salaries, pensions, as well as the administrative reform, implementing reforms on justice and closing the CVM (Cooperation and Verification Mechanism), reforming the state and maintaining the European and Euro-Atlantic course and the Strategic Partnership with the USA.
The Liberals also say that any majority will have to observe the PNL’s partnership with President Klaus Iohannis.
“Also, PNL will present in these negotiations, our firm decision that any majority will have to respect the PNL partnership with President Klaus Iohannis. Respecting the partnership with the President of Romania is an absolutely necessary requirement for these discussions to have practical results,” PNL said.
Ludovic Orban, the former PNL chairman has strongly opposed to the alliance with PSD, even said before the meeting that, if the party chooses to continue next to PSD, he will resign from PNL. He already stepped down from the Chamber speaker position and left the PNL parliamentary group, becoming an independent MP.
Besides Orban, among the Liberals who voted against the deal with PSD there are also the leader of PNL Bucharest, Ciprian Ciucu, the president of Oradea County Council, Ilie Bolojan (also leader of Bihor PNL organization), the mayor of Oradea, Florin Birta, the leader of PNL Giurgiu, Dan Motreanu, the chief of PNL Teleorman, Eugen Pirvulescu, but also Monica Anisie, Antonel Tanase or Raluca Turcan, according to G4Media reports.
Others who opposed the deal with PSD were the PNL branches from Tulcea, Vrancea, Dambovita, Covasna, Bistriţa-Năsăud, Braşov, Brăila, and the leader of the District 6 organization, Sebastian Burduja.
Florin Citu himself, although the put the alliance with the SocDems to vote, abstained from voting. Also, several people close to Florin Citu, firstly Dan Vilceanu, supported the idea of resuming negotiations with USR and abstained, as well as Marcel Vela from Caraş-Severin, Gigel Ştirbu from Olt, or the leaders from Doljul, Harghita and Galaţi.
Among the party branches that voted in favor of starting the negotiations with PSD there are the ones from Alba, Arad, Bacău, Buzău, Călăraşi, Cluj,Constanţa, Hunedoara, Ialomiţa, Ilfov, Maramureş, Mehedinţi, Mureş, Neamţ, Olt, Prahova, Satu Mare, Suceava, Timiş, Vaslui and District 4 PNL branch – the only PNL district organization that voted in favour.
Cluj mayor Emil Boc did not attend the PNL sitting, but sent a letter presenting his option for an alliance with PSD, read by deputy Sorin Moldovan. The moment was booed by the opponents of an understanding with PSD.
USR goes back in Opposition
Chairman of the Save Romania Union (USR), Dacian Ciolos retorted that he is outraged by the PNL’s move to “betray” the hope of those who wanted a government for the modernization of the Romanian state together with USR.
Ciolos announced that his party is returning into opposition and will work to implement National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) reforms.
“From this moment on, a new phase starts for USR. We are now moving into opposition to the old parties and fighting any form of extremism. We will be the largest opposition party and the only one that embraces democratic, genuinely liberal and European values. We will continue to work for the implementation of PNRR reforms. We will firmly sanction the slippage of the PNL-PSD government. We will use this period to reconnect with the people in the streets and to build our vision for a modern Romania,” the USR chair posted on Facebook.
Dacian Ciolos stated that in in the past months the old parties “felt threatened by the new breath” that USR has brought to politics.
He argued that USR opposed the “old methods” of Romanian politics: “the preservation of privileges, the obstacles to modernization, the money distributed without criteria from the pen of a single man.”
In his turn, USR spokesperson Ionuț Moșteanu said that the party is joining the Opposition, but not side by side with AUR. “We have our voters, plans and vision about a Western, pro-European Romania with Liberal views. AUR has another vision about Romania’s future, a more conservative, East-oriented one. These are fundamental differences”, Moșteanu argued.
PSD hopes for rotating mechanism for the PM seat
On the other side, PSD chairman Marcel Ciolacu, said that his party won’t accept PNL hold both the PM seat and the Finance portfolio. Ciolacu called on the Liberals to observe the shares of each party in Parliament, as the Social Democrats have the highest share of MPs.
Apparently, PSD would hope for a rotating mechanism for the PM position within a potential alliance with the Liberals.
The leader of the PSD National Council, Vasile Dîncu confirms that in PSD a mechanism for rotating the position of prime minister within a government with PNL and even a partnership for a period of 7 years is taken into account, which should put “a little order in the political space” and establish some “fundamental priorities”. He told Digi24 about the possibility for this coalition to function in stages.
“For 7 years, it means thinking about some fundamental priorities, which we can put in a major political agreement and, depending on whoever wins the elections can give, for example, the prime minister or so on, that is, we can think of mechanisms through which to establish some priorities “, Vasile Dîncu explained.
Prior to the PNL’s Political Burwau, the National Council of PSD had unanimously voted, on Monday, to start the negotiations to form a government with PNL-UDMR and minorities. Officially, the Social Democrats have a series of conditions-measures that they want to introduce in the future government programme, including the one to deny Florin Citu as Prime Minister in such a Cabinet.
UDMR had already Okayed the partnership with PSD
The Democratic Union of the Magyar in Romania (UDMR), known for their versatility in joining governments, had announced before the Liberals’ meeting that they are in favour of an alliance with PNL and PSD. As a matter of fact, UDMR has been in partnerships with PSD before, both in the Government and in the Parliament.
“We consulted with the leaders of our county organizations and within the online meeting of the Union Representatives Council we decided to continue the ruling and to start negotiations to form a big coalition between PNL-PSD-UDMR,” UDMR chairman Kelemen Hunor announced.