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New Romanian party USR runner-up in latest poll

Question: Hi - what is the policy plan of USR and do you think they will accept to be in a coalition with PNL?

Answers: Hello, in brief, the policy plan is reforming public administration and finding best experts to appoint in key position and manage them transparently. There are good chances that USR accepts PNL's invitation, but only as part of a three-party constructions having PM Ciolos as partner. The scenario is feasible given the disarray within PNL that allows USR promote much smoothly planned reforms. USR will probably avoid being the junior partner of a ruling coalition that would nominate a PNL member for the PM seat. USR is a new party with good, yet very vague, intentions. It focuses on moral values and transparency. It is fair to assume that they have no hidden agenda, but it is still unclear what is the structure and credibility of the regional organisations set up quickly over the summer. Though their good intentions cannot be challenged, their capacity to pursue reforms, particularly in partnership with another, more experienced party, must be proven. Under the optimistic scenario, USR-PNL coalition would stimulate the much-needed internal reforms within PNL. Under the pessimistic scenario, the coalition (assuming the two parties form the majority) would not function and lead to political crisis, eventually the formation of an alternative PSD-led majority. We have in the past the example of 1996-2000 term, when idealistic Conventia Democrata has formed the ruling coalition with the Democrat Party and failed to run smoothly – yet setting grounds for healthy economic developments after 2000. USR must join forces with other parties, most likely PNL, if they want to be part of a ruling coalition. As opposed to USR, PNL has a history of debatable political coalitions (in terms of own ideology), questionable decisions (in terms of rule of law) and performance, as part of a ruling coalition. There were also many PNL leaders indicted and condemned for corruption, though Social Democrats lead by far in this regard. This does not fit the profile of USR’s ideal partner. But this complicated history of Liberals (a party with much longer history, dating since before the communist regime) also comes with a robust network of regional organisations, hands-on approach of elections (compared to the rather idealistic approach of USR) and an “inertial” support enjoyed in some parts of the country and among certain social categories. At first sight, the two parties might be complimentary – but this is the optimistic version of the story, or the full half of the glass. The empty half is i. PNL not being in its best favourable stage of its history, and ii. possible conflicts generated by the very different profiles of the two parties. PNL faces major problems since it broke the coalition with leftist PSD – though it should have on the contrary allow the party to gain credibility and strengthen its centre-right identity. Klaus Iohannis winning the presidential elections in November 2014 should have further help PNL pursue internal reforms. But the merger with Liberal Democrat Party (PLD) of former President Basescu was not yet completed at local level, it generates tensions and the incumbent party leadership lacks vision and strategy. Supporting PM Ciolos was the sole strategy in this electoral campaign and it is unclear whether this was a winning strategy. Coming back to USR, the party also adhered to the also very vague platform Romania 100 of PM Dacian Ciolos. USR has own programme, but it is equally vague. As an extra-parliamentary party, USR did not have to express views on the wage hikes or fiscal policies. In fact, USR’s rhetoric focuses on moral values and transparency and on reforming the public administration. In fact, this would indeed unleash the growth potential, but the public administration is likely to oppose resistance. In brief, USR wants to fight corruption and find the best experts for defining very specific strategies like fiscal strategy, energy strategy, industrial strategy. Just like Romania 100, USR’s programme includes common sense statements. The political plan was having both PNL and USR running in the parliamentary elections under the umbrella of Romania 100 platform. But this strategy seems to have failed and the lack of coherence between the two parties becomes increasingly visible. There are rumours being circulated about Liberals’ disappointment with their scores in the polls. USR’s strongest point is its youth -- the new party was set up this year members with no involvement in politics or controversial businesses so far. And yet, controversies related to party’s financing have already occurred. Such allegations are however politically biased and not particularly credible. We see threats to party’s credibility Since it is very young, it is not clear what is the profile of the regional organisations, whether they are as credible as the central leadership.  

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