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The Democrats and the Liberals prefer for the moment to play in the “Local Championship”

The “Justice and Truth” Alliance (PNL-PD), benefits in an electoral year from an unexpected chance: the devastating critiques by the European Parliament and the European Commission, regarding the social-democrat government. In a really masochistic move, the PSD leaders helped their “partners” in the Alliance: they offered the position of Bucharest’s mayor to their political enemy, the PD President, Traian Basescu, the incumbent mayor, by appointing Bogdan Niculescu Duvaz as a candidate for the job. Moreover, scared by the possibility of loosing the elections in 2004, the PSD leaders started a furious attack against liberals and democrats, thus succeeding to offer them better publicity then their own. Therefore, the electorate could find out that the PNL-PD Alliance means not only Theodor Stolojan and Traian Basescu, personalities already credited with credibility by the electorate, but could mean a real alternative to PSD.

The opinion poll made in mid-Mars by CURS, shows that PSD decreased from 53% (the level calculated by the IMAS belonging to Adrian Nastase’s Chancellor), to 41% of the vote preferences. The PNL-PD Alliance was rated at 30% of voting preference. The results of CURS’ poll, risking to arouse only the initiated part of the society, were so vehemently criticised by the PSD leaders and affiliated analysts, that they became visible for the whole public opinion who remarked a more clear emergence of an alternative to the PSD government. Again, the PSD leaders, revolted by the fact that an ordinary opinion polls institute publishes different results then the ones officially accepted by the governing party, helped the Alliance, making a disadvantageous poll more popular.

The increasingly aggressive attacks of PSD leaders and the time pressure inspired the liberal and the democrat leaders who seem to become more active and more coherent in their preparation for elections. For Bucharest, the dice was thrown. The Alliance equitably shared the city sectors (three for PD and three for PNL, all the six candidates fighting under the common flag of the Alliance), and Traian Basescu, the PNL-PD ‘locomotive’ for the local elections, can be relaxed and take care of the roads of the Capital, now that PSD offered him such an unexpected present: Bogdan Nicolescu Duvaz, his goodfather as counter-candidate. “I’m relaxed. During the campaign I will finally be able to go to holiday” thanked Basescu in his original style, to the PSD leaders.

Bucharest seems to be appropriated by the PNL-PD Alliance, and this predictable success is not negligible. The conquer of the Capital creates a strong and positive imagological effect which can seriously influence the general elections. Moreover, Bucharest concentrates about 10% of the electorate of Romania, and conquering the Capital would give a vital advantage to the Alliance in the presidential and the parliamentary elections in November-December 2004. Therefore, the nomination of Duvaz by PSD, made almost clandestinely, is controversial (the party leaders decided on this precipitated move only to divert public’s attention from the lamentable government reshuffle that happened in the same day).

Some PSD vice-presidents speak covertly that the party searches a viable counter-candidate for Traian Basescu but … not within PSD, thus betting on the “outsider” effect that was successfully experimented in 2000 by the current mayor. Unluckily for PSD, which according to party polls is rated only with 20% of voting preferences, such a candidate is hard to find.

Cluj, the capital of Transylvania- is the second citadel attacked by the PNL-PD Alliance. A young, 36-year candidate, Emil Boc is ready to enter the second round of local elections, not with Vasile Soporan (the PSD candidate), but with the eternal Gheorghe Funar, the PRM candidate, the current polls predicting a PD victory. Therefore, PSD has sent Minister Vasile Dancu, one of the electoral strategists of the party, to Cluj, in order to prevent a victory of the Alliance in this region, the move thus confirming the poor score of PSD in Transylvania-.

But the Alliance seemingly fails in Iasi, the capital of Moldova. After seeing his local organization decimated by PSD, PD has “stolen” the PNL candidate for the city. But Moldova, a PSD fief for the last 14 years can hardly be dislocated from PSD arms, even if its loyal electorate slowly realises that “father” Ion Iliescu will not run any more and Adrian Nastase doesn’t mean too much for them.

The Alliance’s leaders, particularly those from PD, also made a surprise move: they nominated notorious personalities to run for the local elections in Bucharest, Dobrogea, Transylvania-, Muntenia, Oltenia and Banat-, seeking to demonstrate to the electorate that his votes are appreciated. What party would throw in the fight for a little town as Medgidia, an ex-minister of Turism as Dumitru Moinescu of PD? The candidates are discretely nominated with the participation of Theodor Stolojan or Traian Basescu. Surprising everybody, the PNL-PD Alliance was more effective in nominating the candidates for the local elections than the massive PSD which, being sure of his baron’s grip on local electorate, was blocked in Bucharest trying typical political manoeuvring.

Dirty electoral scenarios appeared, causing the discontent of the electorate, sick of degrading political scandals. Recently, the very vice-president of PSD, Viorel Hrebenciuc, coordinator of all party campaigns in the last 12 years, publicly accused at TV show PNL leader Theodor Stolojan, the Alliance’s presidential candidate, that in 1992 when he left the country to work for the World Bank he took with him his… mistress. The suburban attack of Hrebenciuc was not countered by the Alliance’s representative present at the TV show, the liberal Varujan Vosganian, the last one preferring to play the academic posture that suits him so well.

The liberals and the democrats were not able to go beyond elitist pride and to initiate a censure motion regarding the PSD government, in the very moment when this was criticized like never before by western officials and by the media for corruption and for compromising the EU accession negotiations. Another example: repeatedly, one of the few respectable liberal senators, Nicolae Popa, was molested by PSD MPs during parliamentary debates. The liberals ignored the incident, the democrats were, as usual, absent from the House, so only the press criticized the vagabond-type behaviour of PSD MPs.

The democrats nominated their candidates for the local elections through a spectacular show, directed by the ex-PSD leader, currently in PD, Cozmin Gusa (who profited from the occasion to show his former colleagues what they lost by eliminating him from the PSD team). The PD leaders, emerged from the FSN of 1990-1991, waved their hands in the rhythm of the hits that marked the “Piata Universitatii” phenomenon, an anti-FSN movement. To adopting now without reticence the values that they denied 14 years ago, seemed demagogical. And the euphoria of the 5000 democrats gathered at Sala Palatului as they would have already won the local elections, was ridiculous. If Traian Basescu wants to demonstrate that he refreshed the party with young members, unstained in the past, and that PD took-over the Opposition’s themes of the 90’s – the property rights, the elimination from the political scene of former communist party activists and members of the secret police, themes that are necessary for the democratization of Romania and are insistently required by the EU -, he would better reject hypocrisy and transform his fellow democrats from puppets into moral and credible politicians, capable of fighting for the values hailed at Sala Palatului.

The leaders of the governing pray are used to lie ostentatiously both the Romanian citizens and the EU officials, clearly disregarding the intelligence of their audiences. If the PNL and PD representatives will plan to use the same instruments as PSD, considering them effective, instead of attacking the real problems of the society and to offer solutions of normalisation for a country confused by corruption and poverty, they would better continue to play in the “local championship” even if they will win it.(Ada Mesesan – Translated by Anton Comanescu)

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