88815 12/8/2006 16:55 06BUCHAREST1837 Embassy Bucharest CONFIDENTIAL 06BUCHAREST1810 VZCZCXRO0526 PP RUEHDBU RUEHFL RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHROV RUEHSR DE RUEHBM #1837/01 3421655 ZNY CCCCC ZZH P 081655Z DEC 06 FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5697 INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001837
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - AARON JENSEN
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/06/2016 TAGS: PGOV, PREL, SOCI, RO SUBJECT: PM TARICEANU'S LIBERAL PARTY SPLITS: DISSIDENTS FORM NEW ONE
REF: BUCHAREST 1810
Classified By: DCM Mark Taplin for Reasons 1.4 (b) and (d).
1. (C) Summary: Prime Minister Tariceanu,s National Liberal Party (PNL) formally split on December 7. The dissident group of former party presidents, Theodor Stolojan and Valeriu Stoica, formed the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD), inviting others to join and claim PNL's position within the ruling coalition. Tariceanu's PNL will not willingly relinquish power. Though the PNL split could lead to early parliamentary elections, the opposition Social Democrats may be inclined to avoid an electoral contest until they have gotten their own house in order, preferring to keep the current minority government in place for a while longer. End summary.
2. (SBU) The National Liberal Party (PNL) headed by Prime Minister Calin Popescu Tariceanu formally divided on December 7, as the leaders of the alternative liberal platform (reftel) formed the Liberal Democratic Party (PLD). The leader of the dissenting Liberals, Theodor Stolojan, flanked by Valeriu Stoica, Mona Musca, Gheorghe Flutur, Cristian Boureanu, and surrounded by the core of the new party, made the announcement in a televised press conference and urged PNL members to join the new party. He said the PLD would organize a national convention early next year. Stolojan, a former PNL president and PM, more recently President Basescu's chief economic advisor, called the PNL leadership "the destroyers of the Democratic Alliance" and "petro-liberals" beholden to the interests of oil industry patron, Dinu Patriciu. . A Quick Break . 3. (SBU) Stolojan and other dissident liberal leaders said they were forced to take this step because the current PNL leadership refused to engage in constructive dialogue. They called for a special partnership with the Democratic Party (PD) in the spirit of the "Justice and Truth PNL-PD" alliance. Stolojan recalled that his supporters had initiated the alliance with the Democrats, but that it was subsequently hijacked by the current PNL leadership. The liberal dissidents already boast approximately one-third of the PNL's parliamentarians (28 legislators) who pledged their support for the new party. This split within the PNL occurred while the Liberals and Democrats were fighting openly over replacing ministerial positions vacated by the Conservative Party,s withdrawal from the government.
4. (C) Cristian Boureanu, one of the early supporters of the Liberal Democrat Party,s platform, told Poloff that the decision was taken sooner than he hoped following Tariceanu's decision to expel from the party eight regional PNL branches that had announced their support for the Stolojan-Stoica political platform. The eight, in turn, called for the immediate establishment of a separate party to which they would defect with their existing local party structures intact. Boureanu expected additional PNL branches -- the basis of the party's structure -- to join the PLD before the party congress. Boureanu said talks with the Democratic Party on re-forming the original Democratic Alliance would be held next week. . Not So Fast . 5. (C) Cristian Adomnitei, PNL deputy and leader of PNL Youth, played down the situation, telling Poloff the damage was limited to the parliamentary group. He asserted that two of the local party branches had already returned to the fold, while the presidents of the other branches had still not succeeded in taking their supporters with them. Adomnitei said the PNL was delaying the passage of the budget until nearer the December 21 closing session of parliament to ensure the government would continue through January 1 unchallenged. He said a PNL extraordinary congress would be held on January 12 to reaffirm Tariceanu,s leadership and party platform before the February 1 opening session of parliament.
8. (C) Comment: PM Tariceanu,s clamp down on dissent within his party forced the hand of the dissenters, who have opted to form a new party rather than wrest control of the PNL from within. The PLD leaders are among the best known and most popular Romanian political figures, especially Stoljan and Musca, and their new party could poll as much as 10 to 12 percent in the polls should there be early elections. Tariceanu,s rump PNL could expect as little as 6-7 percent, or might not even pass the 5 percent parliamentary threshold, depending on how many more leading liberal defections occur.
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The PLD and its planned alliance with the Democratic Party are in line with President Basescu,s desire to form a strong center-right party made up of Democrats and Liberals (or now, Liberal Democrats). On the other hand, early elections depend on the Social Democrats, who have the largest single faction in parliament, and their willingness to face the polls versus a status quo that is not entirely uncomfortable for PSD incumbents. The future direction of the Social Democratic party will be clearer after the December 10 special party congress, at which PSD President Mircea Geoana hopes to strengthen his position against the fractious old guard. End comment. TAUBMAN