The kiss of death for the Liberals

In the minds of some PSD strategists a new idea has recently been born: why wait until next year with the general elections, since we know exactly that we will govern further with the Liberals? Why not have an early election in the autumn? What’s the point of eroding ourselves in government only to come back a year and a half later but with a predictably lower score?

If they hold elections on schedule, i.e. in the fall of next year, the PSD-PNL coalition will have to go through another winter, with inflation further reducing purchasing power, and the people who will have to pay for all of this will be primarily the PSDists themselves. They are preparing, led by Marcel Ciolacu, to take over as prime minister after the rotation. Finally, there would be one more point of argument on holding early elections: why would the PSD and PNL let an extremist party like AUR eat into their electorate?

In passing, the PSD would have only and only to gain. It would preserve its good score in the polls, it would negotiate with the Liberals to share the ministries from positions of superiority in the future coalition and Marcel Ciolacu would enter the government as a legitimate prime minister, not negotiated at the green table.

It wouldn’t be the first time that the PSD has entertained the idea of a snap election. It’s just that it’s a very difficult plan to put into practice. MPs from the two big parties would also have to be persuaded to end their mandates a year and a half early. No one will be able to give them any guarantee that they will find themselves back on the lists.

What would early elections mean for the Liberals? A chance for the current leadership to stay in power or a poisoned apple? Why would it provide an opportunity for the PSD to strengthen their grip on government instead of paying the fair price of governing after taking over as PM?

Some like Nicolae Ciucă, Lucian Bode or Iulian Dumitrescu may be tempted by an electoral arrangement with the PSD. After the first two lose their positions in the government, they risk losing their positions in the party. Why would they risk the 2024 election? Why wouldn’t they go along with Ciolacu? Early elections in autumn means there is no time for congresses or leadership changes. The Liberals will go straight into the election campaign after their boss leaves the Victoria Palace.

Premier Ciucă has already started touring the country in an obvious attempt to connect with the party base. It’s not clear whether he’s doing it with an eye to the early elections, the moment he’s no longer prime minister or his own presidential bid. What is certain is that the PNL leader is accompanied everywhere by Lucian Bode, whom he is guiding forward politically despite the accusations of plagiarism and President Iohannis’ demarcation. The photo also shows Marcel Ciolacu, leader of the PSD, with whom they already form a political tandem (don’t forget the joint visits in which the two have posed together – Kiev, South Korea, Japan).

The PSD wants a political alliance with the Liberals and a common candidate, including in Bucharest. In this variant, the joint candidate, who could be none other than Gabriela Firea, maybe even Marcel Ciolacu, would take the Mayor’s office almost for sure. I have already explained this scenario, I will not elaborate here.

If the current leadership of the PNL will play into the PSD’s hands and go for early elections or a political alliance in 2024, the Liberals will become a mere annex of the big party. It may be a short-term solution for Ciucă, Bode&Co, but in the medium and long term too much PSD proximity will be lethal for the party. With AUR breathing down their necks, the Liberals risk becoming the third party, maybe even below USR. The alliance with the PSD is the sure path to irrelevance.

For many liberals, this renewed USL is the most convenient, safe, lazy and cheap solution. It gives them the prospect of continuing business and guarantees them staying in power. The PSD is the ideal coalition partner, with no high standards of integrity. Plagiarism doesn’t bother them, they don’t turn up their noses at the cohorts of impostors put in office, nor do they threaten criminal complaints at every turn.

What the Liberals don’t see is the prospect, the major risk of losing their political relevance over time, at which point the PSD will no longer share anything with them: neither contracts, nor positions, nor power.

The real solution for the PNL, in order to make a difference in Romanian politics, is to break away from the big party as soon as possible and form an alliance with the anti-PSD parties, whatever they may be. We are, if you like, somewhere around 2003, when the PSD could only be beaten by a great anti-PSD alliance. We don’t call them left, right. They have nothing to do with it anymore.

The alternative to the PSD has always been all the others put together (CDR in 96, Alliance DA in 2004), except the far-right parties like AUR.

This is the only way to reset the deeply unbalanced political scene and to give a breath of fresh air to the increasingly lame Romanian democracy. Only through a great reset can people’s hope for change be revived. This is the only way to overcome the great resignation and the great hopelessness that has settled in society.

The Liberals, together with other parties now in opposition (USR, PMP, Forta Dreptei) can only win the elections by returning to the anti-Pesedist narrative. When wielding power, this party, even if it has apparently cleaned up after the Dragnea era and become more mainstream, is still a danger. It’s in the public interest that it doesn’t get too bloated and stays in its own little square.

The prospect of taking all the power in the state is as real as it gets if liberals don’t wake up in time from the spell of Ciolacu’s strategists and allow themselves to be seduced by the kiss of death.


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