56695 3/15/2006 17:06 06BUCHAREST448 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL VZCZCXRO9843 PP RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #0448/01 0741706 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 151706Z MAR 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3955 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 000448
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE BILL SILKWORTH
E.O. 12958: DECL: 03/15/2016 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, SOCI, KCRM, RO SUBJECT: EX-PM ADRIAN NASTASE OUT, PSD IN DISARRAY AS MEMBERS ASK "WHO'S NEXT?"
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission Mark Taplin for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (SBU) Former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase was forced to resign as Chamber of Deputies President and Executive President of the main opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) after a no-confidence vote during a marathon nine-hour March 14 special meeting of national and local PSD leaders. During the meeting and afterwards, PSD leaders bitterly accused Nastase of damaging the party's image and dragging the party down in the polls. (Note: One recent national poll showed only about a 20 percent level of support for the former ruling party. End Note.) Nastase publicly proclaimed himself a "scapegoat" and accused an unnamed "foreign strategist" of "working inside the party" to orchestrate his downfall. Nastase, who is currently under criminal investigation for corruption and has been the focus of extensive media scrutiny since disclosing a suspicious inheritance, had held onto his Chamber of Deputies Presidency -- until now.
Barons at the Bar
2. (C) Although the PSD confab -- which ended at 2 A.M. March 15 -- focused on Nastase, other PSD heavy-weights, popularly dubbed "barons", are also in the spotlight. In January, a commission established to investigate the assets of public officials determined that former Economy Minister and ex-Bucharest branch PSD president Dan Ioan Popescu possessed "unjustified wealth." He now faces a civil trial. The National Anti-corruption Department (DNA) is investigating two other PSD barons, ex-Minister of Transportation and PSD General Secretary Miron Mitrea and Constanta Mayor Radu Mazare. A number of PSD's lesser luminaries also face unwelcome investigations, including PSD deputy Ion Dumitru, former chief of the national forest department, whose case DNA prosecutors submitted to a trial court March 1 -- the first case of an MP formally submitted to a court.
3. (C) PSD Executive Secretary Dan Mihalache recently told PolOff that the party is "going through an extraordinarily difficult period" and would hold a "congress this year to discuss replacement of an entire generation within the party." Mihalache stressed that the aim of the congress would be to make the PSD more transparent and less authoritarian, to bring new people in, and to design and launch (sometime next year) a new political platform. PSD leaders insist to us that the attacks against its leaders are "politically motivated" -- but they also admit that the general public largely views the PSD as corrupt. In Mihalache's words, "some of the allegations might be true," and the PSD is divided between those who say "defend" and those who say "kick them out."
4. (C) The Chamber of Deputies will probably vote in its plenary session next week on who will be the new President of the Chamber of Deputies. PSD leaders assert the position "belongs" to their party. The two lead center-right coalition partners, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and President Traian Basescu's Democratic Party (PD) have not agreed (so far, at least) on a joint candidate. Parliamentary sources assert that a number of high-profile names are in the hopper, including prominent PNL members Mona Musca and Bogdan Olteanu. Some PSD solons reportedly back Valer Dorneanu, Chamber of Deputies President from 2000-2004.
5. (C) Comment: Nastase's fall from grace (and power) arrives at a moment when the PSD's fortunes have never been lower. According to PSD officials, the party is currently divided between a "reformist wing," the "barons," and those loyal to party founder and ex-President Ion Iliescu. To some observers, the future of the PSD itself is uncertain. One PD deputy went so far as to suggest to us that disaffected PSD members might merge with PD. That said, it's too soon to write off the PSD, which maintains a powerful machine, especially in rural areas. Nastase, on the other hand, has reached a point of no return in a political career that less than two years ago seemed destined for the presidency. As if he were not in enough legal trouble already, Romanian law enforcement sources have suggested to us that Nastase might find himself the subject of an indictment in the other high-profile case of the political moment: namely, Rompetrol. In that way, several "big fish" -- including Nastase, former Economy Minister Popescu, as well as Rompetrol's Dinu Patriciu and his associates -- might be brought to trial as codefendants in one
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spectacular package deal. End Comment.
6. (U) AmEmbassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are available on the Bucharest SIPRNet website: www.state.sgov.gov/eur/Bucharest TAUBMAN