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After failure in the locals, PSD in intensive care

Arthur SUCIU

The local elections lessened PSD's status as the quasi-dominant party in the Romanian political arena. First time in four years, a true political alternative was established (the D.A. Alliance, made up of PNL - the National Liberal Party and PD - the Democrat party). PSD is losing ground in polls, the latest of which shows - a novelty in the 19th Century - that the Alliance moved up to the first position in the electorate's vote intentions. All these made PSD take emergency measures to rebrand and relaunch the party in view of the coming parliamentary and presidential elections.



Elections' X-ray diagnosis: PSD, a diseased party

 

The vote in the locals X-rayed the Romanian political arena, and PSD found it was a "diseased" party. The first sign of disease awareness was given by party leader Adrian Năstase, with a laconic, yet finally clear statement: "We have a problem." Others, more or less important party officials, came and said the same. PSD staff all of a sudden started to speak about it, each identifying a different diagnosis and recommending a different healing method. Voices were, naturally, evincing the subjective stand of the various sides inside PSD, each right in its own way, and wrong according to the others' view. After fierce controversies, tale-telling for the serious crisis the party was going through, Adrian Năstase asked that those who got poor scores in the local elections submit their resignations. The moment had been prefaced by the tremendous tension between party executive president Octav Cozmâncă and local branch leaders, as the latter were not willing to give up their positions and the former threatened they will be discharged unless they resign. Consequently to Năstase's order, resignations started to pour, so that eventually the one who had insisted for it, Octav Cozmâncă himself, had to step in. He stated that a "sufficient" number of resignations had been collected, and urged local branches to end personnel shifts. It would all have come to an end with the local branches taking responsibility for elections results, had it not been for the rolling of heads at top central structures. Important party names had to fall, further to the responsibility taking order: Dan Ioan Popescu, Doru Ioan Tărăcilă, Viorel Hrebenciuc etc.. Other senior officials kept their positions, yet after seeing it seriously threatened. Their responsibilities in the activity of branches had not been clearly defined, and in certain cases it was the central leading structure rather than the local leaders that were to blame. In Bucharest, Dan Ioan Popescu was forced to resign, although the party had got better scores than back in 2000. A similar case was reported in Bacău, where Viorel Hrebenciuc won across the county, except for the capital city. PSD Brașov reported a special situation. Its leader, Constantin Niță, saw his position threatened for having lost the elections, although PSD had never before won in Brașov. It was the popularity the ruling party rather than the county branch, enjoyed with the locals that dropped, on account of the reform measures taken by the Government (closing down or privatising several major industrial complexes in the region). Party heavyweights felt the pressure on their heads, although they were not accountable for the result of elections. Some gave in, others would not, and they were probably right not to yield. From the branches, the tension percolated up to the central leaders, and from here to Adrian Năstase, the one who discharged all the negative energy in the relationship with Ion Iliescu.

 

Diagnosis: unreformed party

 

The crisis between the former and the incumbent PSD presidents led, for the first time in the last 4 years, to a Governmental crisis. The fact that this crisis has never been officially acknowledged does not mean it didn't exist. During those days, rumours had it that Adrian Năstase "played a tough game", yet one can hardly say this now. The one to play it high was Ion Iliescu. He tried, while at an obvious disadvantage, to impose his own view in the party. It was very clear that PSD's underperformance in the elections was triggered by its insufficient reforming. And reform had been deferred by Iliescu's people themselves. He pointed an accusing finger to the corruption inside the party headed by Năstase, yet Iliescu's cronies might just as well be accused of corruption. The PSD insufficient reforming was in fact the reason for the party's losing important points in the elections. And Iliescu would not admit it, which drove Adrian Năstase to submit his resignation. Only at this moment can we say that Năstase "played it tough". Faced with this move of the head of Government, Iliescu could do nothing but give in. which brought the end of the election crisis in PSD.

 

Prescription: shock therapy

 

As in any disease, the diagnosis and cure are a matter of personal choice, to a certain extent. In the end, only time will tell whether it was the right choice. While for four years PSD repressed any idea of reform, now this idea surfaced and is "working", but the "old elements" are being suppressed instead. After the "deal" with President Iliescu, Adrian Năstase suspended the Standing Delegation, which he replaced with a Steering Bureau. This was no new method, it had been used in the past as well. Unable to replace Mitrea and Hrebenciuc, Năstase concocted positions for his own people. The "reform" actually consisted in a strange overlapping of attributions of two parallel bodies, of which the one complying with party regulations remains for the time being suspended. In order to gain lawfulness, members of the current Steering Bureau need to be accepted in the Central Executive Bureau, which can be achieved, during the National Council, upon approval of the old Standing Delegation members. Also, in order to become the leading structure of the party, the same Steering Bureau members need to be assigned top leadership positions, a decision to be approved by the Executive Bureau, again including the Standing Delegation members.It is very likely that, by the Special Congress due on August 27, new problems will emerge between the "old" and the "new", and the party relaunch will be replaced by a political settling of accounts as Romania has seen before. Already, as far as the primary elections go - another controversial procedure designed to help accomplish the party reform - quite a number of voices were raised against the removal of older officials from the lists.

 

Fresh repression

 

Many have noticed that in the elections for the City Hall-, the PSD runner, Mircea Geoană, was not sufficiently supported neither by Adrian Năstase, nor by Government members. PSD rather waited for the elections to end, instead of facing them in all responsibility. It all happened as if at least part of PSD wanted the party not to win the elections. This part was obviously represented by Adrian Năstase.

Things are quite different at the moment. If there is anybody who wants PSD to win the general elections, that person is Adrian Năstase. Undoubtedly a share of PSD will only in form support him, and this in the optimistic scenario that this part will not oppose him before elections. This part is represented by Ion Iliescu.

Publicat în : English  de la numărul 18

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