The leader of Romania’s senior ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD), Liviu Dragnea, has summoned branch heads on September 21 to settle the growing tensions within the party, after a group of PSD dissidents including Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea and Deputy Prime Minister Paul Stanescu asked him to resign both as party leader and as the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies.
The outcome of the summit scheduled for Friday (one week sooner than Dragnea planned) is highly uncertain. Without Dragnea, and toning down the bills that prompted public protests, the PSD could still easily win next year’s elections and the local branch leaders seemed to have understood that this is a more vital short-term target than a law pardoning certain acts (promised by Dragnea in exchange for their support).
On the other hand, the PSD is in deep need of charismatic and credible leaders — as are all political parties in the country at this moment.
“[P]aradoxically, the Social Democratic Party declines in voters’ preferences, the electoral polls indicating a voting option of between 25%-30%, well below the score obtained by the party in parliamentary elections in 2016 (47%). Also, the party leader, Nicolae Liviu Dragnea, is assigned by the same polls a weak support of 7%-12%, well below the party’s score and furthermore he is the most controversial political leaders in Romania in recent years,” the dissidents said in an open letter.
In the letter, the dissident faction accuses Dragnea of jeopardising party’s chances in the parliamentary elections next year by involving it in multiple conflicts with Presidency, intelligence services, prosecutors’ office and national anticorruption directorate DNA. The quality of the personnel appointed in the public administration was brought into question as well.
The dissident faction asks Dragnea to step down, and they want Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, who also serves as executive president of the party, to act as interim head of the PSD until a party congress next year.
The dissidents want the PSD to strengthen its partnership with the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (Alde) and renew its rhetoric in favour of development and social protection. The main projects of the party, including the new pension law (seen as risky by independent analysts) and the justice laws (seen by opposition parties as weakening the rule of law) should be continued but after public debates with relevant bodies in order to gain public acceptance, the dissidents asked.
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