The war breaks out in SDP: Gabriela Firea, Paul Stănescu and Adrian…

The war breaks out in SDP: Gabriela Firea, Paul Stănescu and Adrian Ţuţuianu ask for the resignation of Liviu Dragnea as party head and push for Viorica Dăncilă to cover the ad-interim presidence of the party

A letter signed by Gabriela Firea, Paul Stănescu and Adrian Ţuţuianu shows that Liviu Dragnea has become a liability SDP and asks him to resign as leader of the party, leaving Viorica Dăncilă as interim president. The three SDP leaders also demand a legislative initiative on amnesty and pardon after a broad consultation and debate with: the Ministry of Justice, the SCM, the High Court the magistrates’ associations, the Romanian Council of Bars and Law Societies, and civil society.

Full text of the letter

Dear Mr. Liviu Nicolae Dragnea,

Ladies and Gentlemen, members of the National Execuitve Committee

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has been governing Romania for one year and nine months, with positive economic results. All indicators point to sustainable economic growth, a record level of State revenue, and a improvement in EU funds absorption. Salaries, pensions, social benefits, and subsidies for farmers have increased. We have the highest number of people in work for the last 20 years, and the lowest level of unemployment in a long time.

However, despite all this, sociological research indicates a voting option ranging from 25% -30%, well below the party’s score in the parliamentary elections in 2016 (47%). By the same token, the president of the party, Liviu Nicolae Dragnea, is quoted in opinion polls with 7% -12% of voters’ preferences, well below the party’s share, being the most contested Romanian political leader in recent years.

The current situation of the SDP must also be read against the backdrop of weak political opposition in a context of more and more social movements, of radical social displacement, and increasing polarization of the Romanian society (for and against SDP)

It is our duty as responsible politicians to analyze and decide what measures are needed in order to stop this trend, but also to consolidate the party’s structures such that they remain the country’s main political force capable of winning the 2019 European and presidential elections – and those of 2020 – at the local and parliamentary levels.

In our opinion the causes behind this situation are the following:

1. The SDP and its government are part of internal conflicts that have erupted and will continue to worsen. The way in which the three candidates for the posts of prime minister and members of the government were nominated, without any valid set of criteria necessary for an efficient government, have deepened the latent conflicts in the party and generated mistrust among voters. The no confidence vote against its own government, the establishment of no less than three governments in 19 months, the unexplained changes of some ministers, are elements that are negatively perceived by the SDP electorate. The Congress of March 2018 did not bring about an improvement in the functioning of the party, fact which had public image implications and a worsening of perception of its own voters, but also of society as a whole.

2. PSD finds itself in a permanent war, waged on too many fronts, with an important part of Romanian society: the President of Romania, opposition political parties, Romanian Information Service (SRI), The Guard and Protection Service, the Public Ministry, Anticorruption Directorate, civil society etc.

3. The public agenda was highjacked by topics such as Corruption, Changes in Justice, the „Parallel State”, the collaboration protocols with the SRI, which have overshadowed in the public debate the results of the governance in the economic and social spheres. In addition, the party has had a poor public communication strategy, which only reacted defensively and ineffectively to attacks from all sides, instead of being proactive and framing the topics of discussion.

4. All the legitimate positions on the „Parallel State” and the abuse of justice on the basis of illegal protocols between the SRI and various institutions have been countered by the idea that the SDP acts on its own behalf for the benefit of its leaders or acolytes.

Furthermore, the SDP initiatives in the area of justice reform required by the democratization of the Romanian society and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms were attacked by the parliamentary opposition and a part of civil society, as being exclusively in the interest of the SDP leader, Mr. Liviu Dragnea.

Therefore, it can be stated without reservation that through his legal liability the SDP leader has become an obstacle to the adoption of these regulations.

5. The manifestations against the government and SDP, especially those of the winter of 2017, and the recent ones of August 2018, have contributed to the polarization of Romanian society and to the development of an aggressive attitude towards SDP in some segments of society. The protest actions announced for September and October 2018 will deepen the crisis of mistrust in the party. In this context, the adoption by emergency ordinance of amnesty and pardon measures is likely to generate widespread protests, that will most likely end with the fall of the Dăncilă government and the loss of the government by the SDP.

6. The promotion in the Government, Ministries, Agencies, and in other public institutions of persons with obvious professional shortcomings, incapable of communicating correctly on governance issues.

7. The development of external mistrust in SDP, amid the perception that the institutions of the rule of law and Justice are being attacked. The SDP was not able to explain to its external partners convincingly the real and legitimate motivations for its reform efforts in the Justice area with a view to end gross violations of the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens by the „Parallel State”.

8. The vulnerable legal situation of PSD leader Liviu Nicolae Dragnea has become the the party’s major liability, the main element of attack by the opposition and a part of civil society, a perpetual source of mistrust internally and externally, which is why the correctness of any approach initiated by PSD in the direction of reforming Justice is now questionable.

9. The discretionary leadership of the party, the transformation of the governing structures (the National Permanent Bureau, the Executive Committee) into fora that validate the decisions taken in a limited format, the de facto abolition of the National Council and the Party Departments, the lack of internal debate in the political and parliamentary structures.

Faced with this crisis situation, and in order to avoid the international isolation of the country and the loss of confidence in SDP, we propose the following actions:

1. The immediate resignation of Mr. Liviu Nicolae Dragnea from the position of President of the Party and from the position of President of the Chamber of Deputies.

2. Covering of the interim SDP leadership by Mrs. Viorica Dăncilă, executive president, until the organization of an extraordinary Congress in the first part of 2019. Democratization of the internal party life and ensurance of the statutory functioning of internal structures (National Permanent Bureau, Executive Committee, National Council, Departments, etc.).

3. Maintaining the SDP-ALDE coalition, the only guarantee of the continuation of the government program. Negotiation of parliamentary support of the Government by UDMR, national minorities, independent MPs.

4. The improvement of governance and the strengthening of the government team. The Government’s public agenda should be centered on public investment, thus supporting the business environment to maintain the pace of economic growth.

5. Support for major critical infrastructure projects (district heating, water supply, etc.) and collaboration between the Government and the local public administration for their implementation.

6. Boosting the initiation and running of mobility infrastructure projects (motorways, express roads, detours, etc.) by the central and local government.

7. Unconditional support for the adoption and application of the new Pensions Act, as elaborated by the current Government.

8. Develop a coherent plan with a view to streamline the social assistance system through targeted measures in order to help those in need so that the fight against poverty can produce visible results.

9. The appropriate preparation of the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, which must bring about an improvement of Romania’s image and governance at international level.

10. Increasing the cohesion of parliamentary groups and adopting in this parliamentary session the package of laws on justice, the laws amending the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Code of Civil Procedure; the national security laws, the Administrative Code, but also the legislative initiatives needed to implement the measures adopted by the PSD National Executive Committee on 1 September 2018; off-shore law; legislation on the legal status of incompatibilities and conflicts of interest.

The parliamentary groups will unconditionally support the PSD-ALDE government and will reject any no confidence vote promoted by the parliamentary opposition.

11. Adopt a Law of the Lobby in accordance with the principles of transparency and good practice in states with a tradition in this field.

12. Adjustment of the legislative and normative framework regarding the exploitation of natural resources on the basis of the principle of maximizing the benefits for the Romanians under the conditions of providing an attractive framework for investors,

13. Adopt a legislative initiative on amnesty and pardon after a broad consultation and debate with: Ministry of Justice, CSM, ICCJ, Magistrates’ Associations, Romanian Council of Bars and Law Societies, and civil society. Justice and criminal policy reforms can be successfully accepted by society only to the extent that it is believed that they are in the interest of protecting the rights and fundamental freedoms of citizens.

14. Condemn firmly and adopt all the necessary measures to prevent the interference of secret services or groups of illegal interests in the act of justice, which must be carried out impartially, in strict compliance with the Constitution and the laws in force.

15. Support the National Referendum on the Revision of the Constitution of 7 October 2018.

16. Support the Government in the process concerning budget rectification. Prepare appropriately the budget rectification in November. Prepare the state budget and draft the state social security budget for 2019 and adopt them by the end of the parliamentary session.

17. Support local public administration authorities by allocating the financial resources necessary for the functioning and development of localities. Adopt the public finance code.

18. Develop a coherent electoral strategy in order to ensure the party is prepared for the Euro-parliamentary and presidential elections in 2019, in order to maximize the chances of winning.

19. Improve relations with international partners and regain confidence in Romania and the Social Democratic Party. We must become valid partners for dialogue within the Party of European Socialists and the Socialist International.

Dear Colleagues,

Our approach is honest, we are not pursuing personal interests, but trying to save the Social Democratic Party, which is going through difficult times. We appeal to all members of the National Executive Committee, parliamentarians, presidents of County Councils, mayors, county and local councilors, party members and supporters, to support our approach. It is important to remain united and solid, to continue to govern, but to also ensure a future. SDP must remain the most important political force of the country, a modern and progressive left-wing party with a European vocation.

(Traducere: Ruxandra Stoicescu)

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