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PNL and internal democracy

PNL’s plans to expel two former party presidents have given rise to all sorts of scenarios in the media. Most opinions have been negative. Allegedly this comes against party democracy principles. A handful of analysts eventually bothered to agree that it might turn out a good idea (but only in the short run, so PNL should not rest on its laurels).

Let’s review the facts. Once President Băsescu started to attack PNL–in his very first interview – a genuine “fifth column” emerged in PNL, comprising Theodor Stolojan, Raluca Turcan, Mona Muscă, Valeriu Stoica, and Cristian Boureanu. After Tăriceanu turned down the early election proposal, this group took a hostile position as to party leaders, and started to criticise them anywhere it would find a shoulder to cry on.

The dissident grouping

Stolojan then set out on a quest around local branches, to find supporters to “overthrow” the current leadership. The first coup attempt failed. The second one, this summer, was an even more pathetic failure, after only two-three visits.

The dissidents’ grouping therefore had at least one year to build a sound alternative platform, built on actual party support. And what happened? Apart from the five, NO ONE rallied to the project. Had it been based on genuine party member support, then AT LEAST ONE MORE PERSON would have joined them, just one, for luck. Dictatorial as Tăriceanu is said to be, they would have found, in such a large party, at least one individual willing to criticise him. But they didn’t. Not only that no one joined them, but in one year the five were not even able to come up with an alternative platform to Tăriceanu’s. Their only idea is “let Tăriceanu step down, so that I can take over and go for the PD merger.”

Leaving aside the finishing blow dealt by Mona Muscă, Stolojan himself is far from being entitled to any claims. He has yet failed to coherently account for the disease episode– personally, at the time I heard it was a kidney cancer–or for the blackmail Traian Băsescu was talking about. Then, he chose to criticise the party and its leaders from the snug Cotroceni-adviser position, which strengthened his image as “Băsescu’s footman”. He ought to have left this position, if only to gain some credibility, considering that for over one year now Traian Băsescu has been attacking PNL.

Stolojan may well have kept his position precisely in order to indicate that he speaks on Traian Băsescu’s behalf and thus indirectly achieve some legitimacy, just like Elena Udrea, another insignificant character who gained her moment exclusively because media assumed she was speaking on the President’s behalf.

Valeriu Stoica is not really worth talking about; his political career has long ended, and he should have stayed out, as he has so far. As for the two young people…

In short, with the five having more than a year to build an alternative platform, to speak about the lack of internal democracy in the Liberal Party sounds to me like a proof of ill will on the political analysts’ part. I mean, no one dared to say anything about the deficit of democracy in PD, for instance, when after sixteen years of Social Democracy the party veered to the right and turned popular, without anyone saying a word about it. Still, the group of five had one year to prove themselves. And they only produced grumpy old hag blabber. They didn’t prove they are able to think for themselves, but only reiterated messages launched by Traian Băsescu. They couldn’t find supporters in the party, or gather followers… There have never been more than five of them. I really can’t think of a reason why they shouldn’t be expelled. I seriously doubt that they will be able to build a party which is an alternative to PNL. In the most optimistic scenario, they will end up as PD flunkies.

What does PNL stand to lose?

Time and again analysts claimed that with Stolojan and Mona Muscă the Liberals are losing their most popular people. True enough for Mona Muscă, though we are talking about popularity gained by fraud. But Stolojan, never. The core Liberal electorate has never seen Stolojan with a friendly eye, and they definitely don’t today. While PNL may be seen as a chaos-ruled party at the moment, unable to do anything but fight back attacks coming from Cotroceni, it has a lot brighter prospects than the other political parties. First of all, willingly or not it gets rid of blackmailable people. Secondly, some of the Liberal initiatives prove to be good, though their application has not always been ideal. The flat tax rate is a success, the Iraq pullout is not a bad idea, national security laws are a lot more coherent and fair, the proposed modifications to the “Ticu Act” may secure a more coherent filtering of the public space. Elimination of governmental advertising–which triggered mass media’s general hostility to PNL, is also a good example. Thirdly, along with Stolojan’s team, Dinu Patriciu also gets forced to keep a low profile–particularly after his latest statements in favour of cooperation with PSD, hardly agreed with by party leadership. Even if not expelled from the party, his influence is obviously limited at present. Fourth and last, unlike other parties PNL actually has reasonable second ranks, made up of open-minded, educated youth, and more importantly, of youth not worn out in internecine or external battles.

After the rain comes the sunshine

The President’s recent move to nominate a PSD member as the new SRI director is yet another example of an attack that the Liberals may capitalise on in order to move forward. First of all, the President is losing the right-wing electorate, as he cannot account for the cooperation with PSD. And still, Traian Băsescu got elected by right-wing voters annoyed by the PSD arrogance and theft. Secondly, nothing good can come out of the cooperation with PSD. Even the parliamentary support is questionable–although the party generally operates as a “wolf pack”– because there are several factions in PSD, having divergent interests. However, the party is free falling, lacking coherent leadership, closer to disintegration than to reform.

Thus, after Traian Băsescu and PD moved to the right, they now seem a lot more interested in the left-wing electorate, PSD’s voters, leaving the right-wing path open to PNL, which has virtually no competitors there.

Moreover, closeness to PSD is contaminating, and it may result in the loss of the left-wing voters as well, who were also outraged about the former ruling party’s theft and corruption and appreciated Traian Băsescu’s justice-seeking rhetoric and his pursuit of justice.

By Cristian BANU

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 42
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