Romania: Unrest grows in PNL Liberal Party; calls for Orban’s ouster

Romania: Unrest grows in PNL Liberal Party; calls for Orban’s ouster

Unrest is intensifying inside the ruling PNL party. Following Rareș Bogdan, the removal of former Prime Minister Ludovic Orban from the PNL presidency was publicly demanded by the party’s Secretary General Robert Sighiartău.

The party’s prefectural organizations are divided as follows: a hard core comprising 17 Prefectural Organizations rallying around Ludovic Orban (who as PNL chairman distributed the posts of General Secretaries and so forth to his own people, strengthening his position); an almost equal number of Prefectural Organizations are calling for his resignation from the presidency (reformers, mainly from Transylvania), while a smaller number of Prefectural Organizations remain undecided and are expected to take a position depending on the developments.

Party president Ludovic Orban did not provide a public response to the attacks, however he did meet with Klaus Iohannis in Cotroceni yesterday to discuss the intra-party situation. In the morning, he stated that the party president is elected by the congress and until that happens, he is the leader of the PNL. He added that he discusses party issues with his colleagues in the institutions and not in public.

The party is in the process of organizing an extraordinary congress to elect the new party leadership. Ludovic Orban wants to be the sole candidate for the PNL presidency, which would almost certainly secure his first PNL candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. Orban would like the special congress to be held in April so that his opponents are left with no time to organize, however this was deemed impossible due to the pandemic. The conference should be held in person and not online, and as a result it is most likely to take place in the fall, if the epidemiological situation allows.

Until then, the anti-Orban wing will have time to better organize, as it is still in search of a candidate for the party presidency. Florin Cîțu has the support of the self-proclaimed “reformers”, but so far only for the post of Prime Minister – in an effort to prevent Orban from taking full control of the party. Citu has the support of Klaus Iohannis, however his small percentages are projected small. One choice for the PNL presidency would be Emil Boc, whose popularity has risen to 27%. Other options could be Rareș Bogdan (24%) and Ilie Bolojan.

As usual, however, the Liberals expect a “line” from Klaus Iohannis. Reports say PNL leaders have informed him they are awaiting indications from Klaus Iohannis of a change of leadership ahead of the conference.

Everyone in the PNL understands that whoever takes over the party presidency will officially be the future candidate for the presidency of Romania.

Finally, it should be noted that the Liberal leaders in Transylvania are slowly rushing to support Rares Bogdan’s uprising against Ludovic Orban. Emil Boc has yet to make statements against Orban and, when asked by G4Media whether he was willing to run for the PNL presidency, he refrained from making any comments. G4Media sources report that E. Boc does not appear ready to directly confront Ludovic Orban, as is the case with Ilie Bolojan – who, due to his unwarm relationship with President Klaus Iohannis, is not at the front line of Rareș Bogdan’s team. /ibna