Issue of the month
How correct do you think that Theodor Stolojan is in his assessment that the National Liberal Party (PNL) could be heading in the same direction as the Social Democratic Party (PSD)?
I am not convinced that Theodor Stolojan has enough political experience to turn him in some sort of a ‘guru’ of the Romanian political scene. Through comparing him, in expertise, with another liberal, say [former Minister of Justice] Valeriu Stoica, Stolojan is in a much more inferior position. Apart from this, I do not think he is right in his assumption. Of course, Calin Popescu Tariceanu has made many mistakes in his relation with the PNL, and has indeed gathered some sort of ‘camarilla’ around him, who supports even some wrong ideas concerning political management. But PNL does not equal Calin Popescu Tariceanu, and there will be a time when and if the mistakes become be extremely bad, the party will react.
As former PNL president, Theodor Stolojan has every right to express his opinion on the running of this party. I, as many other liberal colleagues, consider that Theodor Stolojan earned this right through the fact that he left the party, before the 2004 elections, with a share of over 20 per cent of the population’s voting options, and at a ratio of 1.3 to one over PD, a situation which would have allowed for an uptrend to continue. The current situation of PNL, driven by an inverting of the ratio in the Alliance, where PD has a two to one ratio over PNL, cannot leave Mr Stolojan indifferent. His assessment is a warning that all liberals should take into consideration, especially those liberals that thought the party would earn more once it became a ruling party. The association with the PSD is made only concerning the descending trend the party is, unfortunately, experiencing compared to PD. If the PSD lost the population’s votes because of high-ranking corruption, the situation in PNL is different. As a ruling party, the only thing which could lead to a decrease in voting preferences in polls should be the erosion caused by the Government’s acts, and in no way the public display of internal fights in the DA Alliance. At the same time I believe justice cannot be measured in percentage points, and no one can say somebody is more or less right about a subject. Mr Stolojan issued a serious warning, which us, as liberals, should seriously consider.
Mr Stolojan’s opinion should not be considered as gospel. He is a former technocrat politician, who was close to the PSD, he’s the former president of PNL and now he is a presidential counsellor. He has a bit of everything and can see some way into Romania’s future, which is in President Basescu’s hands. At the same time, all parties make decisions in small committees, and I do not see any novelty in the fact that PNL does the same. Tariceanu is not being advised by people with no other interest but their own, but by a bunch of people from the party. Such small ‘camarillas’ exist in the PSD as well. Look at the group of people around Mircea Geoana, who are different from the groups around Adrian Nastase or Ion Iliescu. What is the real issue is the extent to which this is being maintained by the will of President Basescu. I believe that Basescu has a very powerful desire to distance the PD from PNL and himself from Tariceanu.
I don’t think this is a correct assessment, because Calin Popes-cu Tariceanu is not an authoritarian leader. PNL could have the same problems as PSD in the sense that all parties that have been governing parties in Romania so far – including PSD, the 1996-2000 ruling coalition as well as the current one – kind of let themselves be ‘swallowed’ by the act of governing and forget their entity as a party. But I do not think PNL is in danger of losing its own identity, as it is the only party in today’s parliament that has a truly historical tradition. At this point, PNL has the most powerful identity on the Romanian political stage.