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PSD Reform, Good Bye!

Andrei BĂDIN

The Năstase case is not an exception in PSD. Actually, just about the whole leading team has image problems arising from corruption suspicions. Which made Victor Ponta say recently that he can't think of any clean person among the party's top three-four leaders.

"Operation Aunt Tamara," which could have been an opportunity for the reform of PSD, eventually turned into a fresh proof that it's hard to change anything in this party. After Geoană's "I've had enough," Adrian Năstase ended up by getting, once again, party backing. Yet backstage moves are not over. The ensuing period may see the long-awaited clarification in the party top structure, yet this will not mean party reform, but party splintering. The "when" and the "how" are not yet known, but there is obviously no more room for two swords in the same sheath.


An identity problem


Further to "Operation Aunt" Adrian Năstase became the country's richest nephew. In fact, rumours had long been circulated about the former Premier's wealth. As an editor with "Evenimentul Zilei" daily, Cornel Nistorescu used to speak bluntly of the bribes the former PM was asking for, and dubbed him "ten per cent". Mugur Ciuvică was quickly arrested when posting the famous Armageddon 2 on the Internet, which disclosed the substantial wealth of today's self-suspended PSD senior vice-president. There were many other rumours at the time, with reference, among others, to the fortunes allegedly spreading to China and reaching two billion USD. True enough, there's a lot of imagination in this, but there is no doubt that Năstase has a problem with this huge fortune. Apparently transferred to various cousins, nephews, sisters, sisters-in-law, aunts, mothers or mothers-in-law - the fortune is believed to have originated in corruption deeds. It's hard to prove the opposite, and Năstase doesn't even try, blaming the scandal on the political battle and intelligence services.

In fact, PSD leaders are suspected of having used the Social Democratic colours as a smokescreen for deals that have little in common with this political doctrine. The only somewhat Social-Democratic leader of PSD is likely to have been Ion Iliescu, who, while did not get rich himself, did condone the fishy deals of his fellow party members.

Because of its leaders' greed, PSD now has an image problem with its own electorate. An electorate which can no longer believe the party's egalitarian promises. In the medium and long run, PSD may fall in opinion polls. Today's 25 per cent may look like a beautiful dream in the future. And PSD's electoral score would have been a lot lower, probably, had the current Power performed better. The "groups of interests," the bickering in the ruling coalition helped PSD maintain a decent score. Worth mentioning is that since losing the Power PSD has lost ten per cent, i.e. more than in all four years of governance.


A leader without power


Another major problem for PSD is that it lacks a leader able to impose his view. Mircea Geoană talked big, claimed over and over again that he's "had enough with the image the party has," but ended up by making an U-turn. The same goes for the other corrupt party leaders. Miron Mitrea seems to have more power in PSD than Romania's ex-Ambassador to Washington. Not least, Ion Iliescu, who claims he is not interested in either heading the party or establishing a new political construction, is working hard on a new political programme. The group around him, a little farther to the left, will not forgive and forget the "deviation" of Năstase, Geoană and the others, who forgot all about Vasile Roaită's ideals and saw themselves as would-be local Rockefellers with Al Capone habits.

The Iliescu wing will likely try for the time being to capitalise on the corruption scandals in PSD and wait for Mircea Geoană to lose even more of his credibility. Only then will they probably deal the ultimate blow. Which will very likely have a double-choice answer: either the helm of the party, or the splintering of PSD and establishment of a "genuine left-wing party," as Alexandru Mironov and Răzvan Theodorescu, two of the former President's lieutenants like to say. It is probably precisely because he feels the breath of the Iliescu wing down his neck, that Geoană put forth the idea of a lustration in the party. There would be more than one "target." First of them - Ion Iliescu, followed by other leaders with a communist "track record."


Năstase's spectacular move


We can expect spectacular moves in the forthcoming period. Adrian Năstase is the one to lead the "dance," with a text in "Jurnalul Național" daily. In the newspaper owned by the "immoral solution," Năstase says, "I'm quite certain: it is not Traian Băsescu that had it all started, he too is only witness to this show, and he is just as helpless as we are. So who is behind all this chaos? The Government is a victim, with each and every Minister, the Opposition comes under attack every day, businessmen are writing statements to prosecutors rather than tenders ... Who is keen on proving that everything is rotten, so as to have Romanians desperately looking for a piece of solid ground? What will tomorrow bring? I don't know, I will read the newspapers and find out. Where is this chaos going to?"

Năstase's text resembles a "truce message" addressing the one who had defeated him in the electoral campaign. A message of support to Traian Băsescu. A bizarre one, to say the least. A conflict broke out between the two a few years ago, when Năstase would have liked incumbent President's PD to merge into PSD. The self-suspended PSD president's move comes at a time when Mircea Geoană's anti- Băsescu rhetoric is more radical than ever.


The last ditch


Obviously, the battle inside PSD has reached the last ditch. All sides are well aware that the matter needs to be settled by the end of the year, in order for them to be able to prepare for the next legislative elections. The year end is the deadline, if they want to stand any chances in the coming early elections. Which would also leave them enough time for prospective alliances and coalitions. But the splintering seems at the moment the only option for settling internal issues. One sheathe can no longer hold Geoană the "dupe," Adrian Năstase the "arrogant" and Ion Ilyich Iliescu the "apparatchik." There are many things dividing them. And, well on in years, Iliescu would like to create a traditional left-wing party. Otherwise he appears to be cast in a minor role in PSD, which doesn't seem to agree with the former President.

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