114427 7/5/2007 13:52 07BUCHAREST777 Embassy Bucharest UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY 07BUCHAREST531|07BUCHAREST540|07BUCHAREST581 VZCZCXRO3758 PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG DE RUEHBM #0777 1861352 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 051352Z JUL 07 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6945 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE UNCLAS BUCHAREST 000777
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE
E.O. 12958, AS AMENDED: N/A
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, SOCI, RO
SUBJECT: DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS
REF: A) BUCHAREST 531 B) BUCHAREST 540 C) BUCHAREST 581 D) BUCHAREST
1. (SBU) A belated casualty of the failed attempt to remove President Basescu, deputy prime minister Marko Bela has resigned. Marko, recently re-elected to a fifth term as leader of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR), stated at a July 3 press conference that he wanted to focus entirely on reconnecting with the Hungarian community and his party position. He insisted that his decision was not the result of "any dissatisfaction" concerning his work in government. Nor should it be viewed as presaging the fate of the UDMR's governing partner, the National Liberal Party (PNL) of PM Calin Popescu-Tariceanu. Marko stated that the UDMR would not leave the government and that he would be engaged in coordinating the activities of the remaining UDMR ministers in the Tariceanu cabinet.
2. (SBU) Marko initially announced his intention to leave the cabinet on May 21, two days after the failed referendum to dismiss president Traian Basescu. Under his leadership, the UDMR officially aligned itself with the so-called "anti-Basescu coalition," even while many regional UDMR leaders were distinctly cool to Basescu's 30-day suspension and the subsequent May 19 referendum. (On May 19, Basescu was overwhelmingly returned to Cotroceni by the Romanian electorate, with three quarters of those voting registering their opposition to the Romanian president's ouster.) One surprise outcome of the referendum vote was the high percentage of UDMR supporters--between 60 and 66 percent according to exit polls-who disregarded the party line to vote in favor of retaining President Basescu. This incipient rebellion among UDMR members prompted Marko Bela to acknowledge a "deficit of communication" with the UDMR electorate and vow to concentrate more on restoring the confidence of minority Hungarians in the party.
3. (SBU) Comment. Marko's decision to resign as Deputy Prime Minister in order to concentrate on party activities underscores the continuing impact of his ill-fated decision to join the anti-Basescu bandwagon. Marko is also under pressure from rival UDMR leaders including Senator Peter Eckstein-Kovacs, who has publicly urged Marko and other UDMR leaders to resign from their party positions. More evidence of the gap between the UDMR leadership and the ethnic Hungarian community can be found in two recent opinion surveys which suggest that the party currently does not have enough support to pass the 5 percent threshold for parliamentary representation if elections were held today. This data is especially worrisome for the UDMR leadership as Romania will soon enter a cycle of five back-to-back elections (including Euro-parliamentary, local, parliamentary and presidential contests) over the next thirty months. Finally, there are persistent reports, including in the Romanian media, that Marko and other leading UDMR figures may be facing corruption charges in an ongoing investigation, another factor which may have contributed to his decision to leave the Tariceanu government's second-ranking position. End comment.