Romania’s PNL nominates anti-communist protest leader Marian Munteanu to run for Bucharest mayor post

By bne IntelliNews April 13, 2016

Romania’s National Liberal Party (PNL) has nominated Marian Munteanu, a member of the Romanian anti-communist resistance and former students leader, to be the party’s candidate for the post of Bucharest mayor, local media reported on April 12.

The decision comes after the former candidate, Ludovic Orban, withdrew his candidacy on April 11 as the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) announced it had started a criminal investigation into him for influence peddling.

PNL’s nomination is unexpected as Munteanu is not even a PNL member and shows the party’s lack of prominent figures who could assume the role of mayoral candidate. It could also suggest a weakness before the general election expected to be held later this year. Prior to Orban, the PNL had proposed MEP Cristian Busoi as candidate, but later withdrew him, as polls were showing Orban had more chances to win the election.

“We have decided to opt for a representative of civil society who will be supported by the PNL. We need to freshen up, to shake hands with civil society, we need a real partnership with NGOs in Romania,” PNL co-leader Alina Gorghiu said, according to Hotnews.ro. Munteanu said he will join PNL “when it is necessary”.

Munteanu was the leader of the anti-communist protests in University Square in Bucharest in 1990 that were violently terminated by miners called in by former president Ion Iliescu to suppress the so-called groups of fascists. During the demonstrations, more than 1,000 people, mostly students and intellectuals, were beaten and arrested. Iliescu is suspected of crimes against humanity in an investigation into the events of summer 1990.

Munteanu was arrested on June 13, 1990, released the same afternoon and then held captive and brutally beaten the next day by the miners, according to munteanu.ro. He was transported to hospital in critical condition and then was arrested again. He was released after two months of detention, as a result of national and international pressure.  

However, Munteanu is a controversial figure for his allegedly good relationship with former intelligence head Virgil Magureanu whom he previously accused of violently suppressing the students’ demonstration. In 2000, Munteanu was nominated as presidential candidate by the National Romania Party, which was led by Magureanu himself. He withdrew his candidacy. Earlier this year, Munteanu launched the civic platform Our Alliance which promotes an ultra nationalist policy,

Following Orban’s withdrawal, local media speculated that the PNL would support Nicusor Dan, an activist from the Save Bucharest Union, in the elections. According to a poll ordered by the Social Democratic Party (PSD) and quoted by bn24.ro. Nicusor Dan would come second in the elections with 21% backing, after PSD candidate, former journalist Gabriela Vranceanu Firea, who would get 35% of the votes.

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