Political battle ramps up in Romania as elections approach

After weeks of tensions within Romania’s ruling coalition the Social Liberal Union USL, when contradicting statements invaded the media from all sides, it seems to be down to the last yard for the USL.

Its leaders, Prime Minister Victor Ponta, and Speaker of the Senate Crin Antonescu have openly criticized each other and delivered each other ultimatums, in a situation which threatens to shake the country’s coalition government.

It all officially started from the Government, as after several ministers resigned, its structure was again up for internal discussions.

The National Liberal Party PNL, led by Antonescu, wanted to name Sibiu Mayor Klaus Iohannis as Interior Minister and at the same time vice-prime minister, on a seat which had to be created.

Meanwhile, the Social democratic Party PSD created an alliance within the alliance, joining hands with the National Union for the Progress of Romania UNPR, and the Conservative Party PC. The new alliance, called Social – Democrat Union, in short USD, seemed like a ‘tongue in cheek’ move for the USL partners which were left out – the PNL.

It all went south from there, but statements kept on being convoluted, and nobody said anything clear about splitting up.

Antonescu gave Ponta an ultimatum about naming the new PNL ministers on the vacated seats. In response, the PM said he’s ok with naming all proposed ministers, but if Antonescu wants to run for president as part of the opposition, the ‘union within the union’ will have its separate presidential candidate, hinting to a separation.

The PM said he is convinced Antonescu has decided to run for president from outside the ruling coalition.

This is the biggest conflict within the USL so far, which was joined by lower voices from the ruling parties too. So far, both PNL and PSD and their leaders managed to find a common ground and keep the Government going. This year however the stake is even bigger- upcoming elections for European Parliament members in May, and towards the end of the year, presidential elections.

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