57826 3/23/2006 15:16 06BUCHAREST516 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 06BUCHAREST448 VZCZCXRO9410 PP RUEHAG RUEHDA RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHBM #0516 0821516 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 231516Z MAR 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4050 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000516
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE WILLIAM SILKWORTH
E.O. 12958: N/A TAGS: PGOV, PREL, SOCI, PINR, RO SUBJECT: YOUNG LIBERAL LEADER ELECTED SPEAKER OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES
REF: BUCHAREST 448
1. (SBU) Summary: Bogdan Olteanu, the ex-minister for relations with parliament, was elected March 20 President of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, replacing former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase. A curious coalition of deputies elected Olteanu in the first round, consisting of the parties of the coalition government minus the Conservative Party (PC) plus the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM). The PC's refusal to endorse Olteanu,s candidacy sparked tensions inside the governing coalition, potentially indicating still more friction ahead. In his acceptance speech, Olteanu pledged to strengthen the parliament, to introduce the uninominal vote, and to work closely with civil society groups. Olteanu is a young, but long-standing member of the National Liberal Party (PNL) and a close advisor of PM Calin Popescu-Tariceanu. End Summary.
2. (SBU) On March 20, Bogdan Olteanu, the candidate of the governing PNL and Democratic Party (PD) Alliance became the president of the Chamber of Deputies. Olteanu was elected during the first round with 192 votes from PNL, PD, the ethnic Hungarian party (UDMR) and the extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party. His main challenger, the Social-Democratic Party (PSD) candidate Valer Dorneanu, garnered 88 votes. The Conservative Party,s candidate Daniela Popa received only 22 votes. Olteanu takes over from former PM and Chamber president Adrian Nastase who resigned from the position on March 14 after a vote of no confidence within his own party.
3. (SBU) The election for the Chamber presidency sparked more tension among members of the governing coalition. The Conservative Party, a junior member of the PNL-PD led government, refused to endorse the candidacy of Bogdan Olteanu and put forward its own candidate. PD president Emil Boc reacted by declaring that this behavior placed PC "outside the governing coalition." Unconfirmed press reports alleged that, given the PC,s refusal, the PNL-PD negotiated support for Olteanu with the opposition PRM in exchange for a new location for PRM central headquarters. However, leaders of the parties involved denied any secret agreement.
4. (SBU) In his acceptance speech, Olteanu emphasized the importance of reform of the parliament, urging his colleagues to work together to change the Chamber of Deputies' bad public image. He also pledged to accelerate the adoption of an Electoral Code and the introduction of the uninominal vote for electing members of parliament to replace the current "party list" proportional representation system. Olteanu also insisted on the necessity of "moral reform" in Romanian politics, including possible adoption of a lustration law to provide transparency and heal lingering scars from Romania's communist period. He concluded by saying that the parliament should be more open to citizens and to civil society groups. He pledged personally to get out of his office more often to meet the people on the streets.
5. (SBU) Bio note: Born in 1971, Bogdan Olteanu is the youngest president of the Chamber of Deputies in Romania's post-communist history. He is well and favorably known to the Embassy and is generally characterized as a reformer with close personal and political ties to Prime Minister Tariceanu (who is Olteanu's godfather). In December 2004, he became one of the youngest ministers in the then new center-right government when he was appointed by Tariceanu to serve as minister delegate for relations with the parliament. He resigned his government office on March 18 to prepare his bid for the presidency of the lower chamber. Olteanu joined the PNL in 1991 and was the leader of the Liberal National Youth between 1998 and 2000. Since 2002, he is the president of the PNL Honor and Arbitration Court. In 1996-1997, he was a counselor to Tariceanu, then Minister of Industry and Trade, in the center-right government of the Romanian Democratic Convention. One PNL Deputy describes Olteanu as "Tariceanu's gatekeeper" who plays a key role in taking items off the PM,s plate and resolving them himself. Olteanu has a law degree and is currently enrolled in a PhD program in philosophy. TAPLIN