Romania: PNL insurgency ends before it ever began

Romania: PNL insurgency ends before it ever began

The PNL uprising against party leader Ludovic Orban ended before it could even start. Following the refusal of President Klaus Iohannis to support the initiative of Rares Bogdan, as it became evident from the statements of Cluj Mayor Emil Boc last night, the dust has settled and the party is looking forward to its congress.

At the conference, Orban is expected to take heat for the way he negotiated the formation of a government with the USR PLUS and the UDMR, but also for the outcome of the election, in which the PNL came in second behind the PSD.

According to press reports, the date of the congress and the prefectural elections that will precede it will most likely be announced in February by the party’s National Council. The presidents of the Prefectural Organizations, the ministers, MPs and senators, as well as the PNL MEPs participate in this body.

The party’s statute provides for a congress to be held every four years following parliamentary elections, at a place, time and with a number of members and guests determined by the party’s National Council upon a proposal by the Executive Office. The lower threshold in the number of participants is 1,000. Elections to local and prefectural organizations must be held at least 45 days before the (regular) congress. The statute also stipulates that the congress must be held by July 31 of the year following the parliamentary elections.

Apart from the pandemic, which will largely determine the date of the conference, Klaus Iohannis seems to be in favor of holding it in the fall.

The majority of delegates support an in-vivo conference which, however, is impossible to be organize this quickly with more than a thousand people in attendance and in accordance to the PNL’s statutes, due to pandemic restrictions provided by law. “It is unlikely that in just a few months we will be able to organize the elections in the local organizations and the conference with a physical presence. As much of the population as possible should be vaccinated, so that large-scale conferences can take place with a physical presence,” a leader of the Liberals explained.

The conference timetable is set out in the PNL statutes which stipulate that the party shall hold elections in all local and prefectural organizations, which in turn will send their representatives to the congress. This explains the tumultuous intra-party debates unfolding during this period through which power dynamics at the prefecture level are formed, as the votes for the future president of the party will derive from there. Both Ludovic Orban and his opponents seek to secure a strong electoral base. Orban retains supporters who ballyhoo that he managed to oust the Dancila government and was able to rule and did rule the country solidly amid a very difficult time for Romania.

The shots fired by Rareș Bogdan and Robert Sighiartău against Ludovic Orban, according to sources within the party and the presidential administration, were rather personal.

Klaus Iohannis reportedly told Orban’s intra-party opponents that “they had to solve this (change of leadership) problem immediately after the election” and that unrest within the party was not welcome, at a time when the budget bill constitutes the absolute priority. Moreover, Iohannis discouraged any internal party attacks against the PNL president after the election defeat, as Orban was the head of the negotiating team with the other parties and should not be weakened during the division of ministries.

A party leader said “there is dissatisfaction, but not great. There was a lot of tension during the distribution of the ministries, but it eased.” In his view, Rareș Bogdan and Robert Sighiartău’s public attack on Orban was personal and did not even have the support of their grassroots organizations.

Reports indicate that the two leaders are unhappy after failing to receive ministerial portfolios. Rareș Bogdan was eyeing the Interior Ministry and Robert Sighiartău the Ministry of Development. However, Lucian Bode was placed in the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry of Development was transferred to the UDMR.

Cluj mayor and chairman of the Romanian KEDK Emil Boc, whom Rareș Bogdan has nominated as a possible candidate for the party presidency, has stated that he does not want any office at the party’s next congress and any public debate on intra-party issues in the PNL has to stop.

At the moment, the PNL is trying to establish itself in the government and for the Local Organizations to place as many of their own people as prefects, deputy mayors, deputy ministers.and heads of organizations. “Orban is negotiating, how can anyone ask him to resign?” top PNL executives stress. /ibna