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Yesterday’s enemies, today’s partners: How PNL, PSD, USR, and AUR have lowered…

Sursa foto: Ilona Andrei / G4Media

Yesterday’s enemies, today’s partners: How PNL, PSD, USR, and AUR have lowered the standards of integrity and coherence in politics

Former political adversaries have joined forces and are running together in the local elections, one for the mayor’s office and the other for the County Council, after years of mutual attacks. Candidates investigated or indicted for corruption are also seen as suitable for the positions of mayor or County Council president. In the race for votes, PSD, PNL, USR, and AUR have lowered political standards of integrity and coherence in politics below a critical level.

USR, which until yesterday was making „a different kind of politics,” has allied with PMP and the Right Force, arguing that in local elections they need votes that only politicians with a long history in administration can bring. PNL and PSD invoke the need for political stability to explain why two parties with different ideologies (left, right) have joint candidates for the European Parliament elections, even though the Romanian Parliament is not being voted on, for their argument to be valid.

In reality, all parties are chasing votes in a deeply distorted political environment. On one hand, the major parties have contracts with news television stations and much of the press, therefore, they do not place great importance on the quality of candidates because there is no one left to criticize them. NGOs are not as active as in the past and no longer analyze the parties’ offerings. On the other hand, in this distorted democratic environment, the opposition tries to maximize its chances even if that means major compromises: allying with politicians they have harshly criticized in the past.

Publicitate electorală

The following are some glaring examples of tandems or candidacies hard to imagine a few years ago even in a country with low political standards like Romania:

In June 2022, Costel Alexe, a Liberal National Party (PNL) candidate for the leadership of the Iași County Council, was indicted by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) on charges of bribery and instigation to embezzlement. The current president of the Iași County Council is accused by prosecutors of demanding a bribe in the form of sheet metal worth nearly 100,000 lei. In July 2022, Costel Alexe faced indictment by the DNA in another case, charged with committing the crime of abuse of office in connection with the appointment of an interim director of the „Titel Popovici” Popular School of Arts in Iași.

Mihai Chirica, a Liberal National Party (PNL) candidate for the Iași Mayor’s office, was indicted in January 2024 in a DNA corruption case. He is accused of allowing, along with other city hall officials, a company to build a larger block than legislation permits. In 2021, Chirica had been indicted in another case for the crime of abuse of office, conducted by the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Iași Court. Two years later, in January 2023, the magistrates of the Bârlad Court halted the criminal proceedings in the „Skoda” case, citing the statute of limitations according to a 2022 Constitutional Court decision.

Sector 1: Clotilde Armand, criminally investigated for using her office to favor certain individuals

The Prosecutor’s Office attached to the Sector 1 Court in Bucharest announced in August 2023 that it had initiated criminal proceedings against Sector 1 Mayor, Clotilde Armand (USR), for five acts of using her office to favor certain individuals, in a continued manner. She is accused of signing an order that appointed a manager for a European project and, as a result of this act, obtaining material benefits consisting of incomes related to the activities performed in her capacity as project manager. The USR once campaigned under the slogan „No criminals in public offices.”

Sector 3: Robert Negoiță, supported by the PSD-PNL, criminally investigated in two cases

In February 2023, the DNA announced that Robert Negoiță is under criminal investigation for allegedly approving the illegal issuance of documents necessary for the construction and registration of a block in the center of the capital, from 2015 to 2021. In February 2023, DNA prosecutors began criminal proceedings against Robert Negoiță in another case for two offenses of abuse of office with obtaining undue benefits with particularly serious consequences related to the contract with Rosal.

Constanța: Mohammad Murad, the AUR candidate, criminally investigated in 2020 for voter bribery

Constanța police launched an investigation in 2020 after Mohammad Murad, then an independent candidate for the Mangalia Mayor’s office, distributed packages bearing a slogan and his name. They opened a criminal case for voter bribery. Mohammad Murad is the AUR candidate for the presidency of the Constanța County Council.

The PSD-PNL alliance for the European Parliament elections: an unnatural alliance between Mihai Tudose and Rareș Bogdan

The electoral alliance’s list for the European Parliament elections is led by Mihai Tudose (PSD) and Rareș Bogdan (PNL). The two politicians had harshly attacked each other over the years, but are now running mates. „Maybe he woke up in the morning and, under the impulse of a movie, or a cartoon, put his underpants over his trousers, donned a cape, and started to fly over the buildings,” Tudose had said about Rareș Bogdan in 2023.

As a result of the electoral alliance, Rareș Bogdan ended up on electoral posters in Dolj alongside Lia Olguța Vasilescu (PSD), the current mayor of Craiova. Four years ago, according to aktual24, Rareș Bogdan and Lia Olguța Vasilescu exchanged barbs:

Lia Olguța Vasilescu: „Oh my! I’ve upset Mr. Rareș, the supreme ruffian of Romanian politics. Watch out, your lipstick is smudging, and some might actually mistake you for a man.”

Rareș Bogdan: „As long as an ignorant lady, a person who makes xenophobia a title of glory, dares to insult a fighter for justice, for truth, and is politically supported, there is nothing more to be done with PSD. PSD will disappear, like the feudalism it promotes.”

Constanța: Horia Constantinescu, the PSD candidate for the Constanța Mayor’s office, praised the criminals from Ferma Dacilor and escaped a criminal case closed by the DNA

Ferma Dacilor, the guesthouse in Tohani that burned down to the ground on Tuesday because it did not have a fire permit, was praised almost two months ago by

Horia Constantinescu, the PSD candidate for the Constanța Mayor’s office and the suspended head of Consumer Protection, escaped criminal prosecution this year after the DNA closed the case known as „illegal payments for green spaces” to a company favored by the former administration led by Radu Mazăre. The head of ANPC, Horia Constantinescu (PSD), former head in the city hall led by Chițac (PNL), was a suspect in the same case. The case, which also targeted the PNL mayor Vergil Chițac, was closed in January 2024.

Horia Constantinescu was also the protagonist of a controversial moment. Ferma Dacilor, the guesthouse in Tohani that burned down because it did not have a fire permit, was praised two months before the fire by Horia Constantinescu, the head of Consumer Protection, precisely one of the control institutions whose purpose is to protect customers. In a Facebook post from October 21, Constantinescu boasted of being friends with the owner of Ferma Dacilor – a former criminal with a conviction. Four adults and one child died in a massive fire that engulfed Ferma Dacilor guesthouse in Tohani, Prahova County, on Tuesday morning.

Constanța: The former USR Minister of Justice teamed up with a former close associate of the Udrea-Băsescu tandem

The United Right Alliance announced its candidates for the Mayor’s office and the County Council of Constanța. MP Stelian Ion, former USR Minister of Justice in the Florin Cîțu Government, whose dismissal led to the breakup of the alliance with PNL, will run for mayor. He will team up with the former prefect and current county councilor Claudiu Palaz, the head of PMP Constanța, who has been in local administration since the ’90s.

Claudiu Palaz (53 years old), the current candidate of the United Right Alliance for the Constanța County Council, entered local administration in 1996 as a legal advisor in the city hall then led by PD mayor Gheorghe Mihăieși, according to Info Sud-Est. Palaz later became the general secretary of the Constanța Prefecture, during the Adrian Năstase (PSD) government, and then subprefect and prefect. He was later vice president of the County Council (2016-2020), and is currently a county councilor. Except for a brief absence from public life, Palaz has been in local administration for nearly three decades and has been through two parties.

Palaz was close to the Elena Udrea – Traian Băsescu tandem and the core group from the former PD, but also had close relations with people from PSD, being considered in some political circles as the link between the two parties during the Mazăre – Constantinescu era. However, in the public space, Palaz and the Mazăre -Constantinescu tandem were in conflict and threatened each other with complaints to the DNA. (See here the complete CVs of Stelian Ion and Cladiu Palaz)

Timișoara: Dominic Fritz (USR) and Alin Nica (former PNL), the alliance of former enemies

The Timiș organization of the United Right Alliance (ADU) decided that Dominic Fritz (USR) will be the Alliance’s candidate for the mayorship of Timișoara, and Alin Nica (Right Force) will run for a new term at the helm of the County Council (CJ). Nica was expelled from PNL after publicly criticizing the alliance with PSD for the local elections.

Before becoming allies, Dominic Fritz and Alin Nica attacked each other over the last four years, each blaming the other for various local administration issues.

As recently as October 2023, the former PNL Timiș president, Alin Nica, stated that the administrative incapacity of the mayor affects the development of Timișoara. He claimed that Dominic Fritz is unable to handle even the projects that have started and that it would be better to let those who know how to take over.

„113 million lei in lost European funds, 30 unfinished or non-functional projects, terminated contracts, and the pathetic excuses of Mayor Dominic Fritz in the plenary of the Regional Development Council, this is the balance sheet of USR’s activity at the Timișoara City Hall,” was stated in a press release by PNL Timiș, published on October 20, 2023, cited by EVZ.

In October 2022, Dominic Fritz also launched a harsh attack against Alin Nica, accusing him of doing nothing at the helm of the CJ Timiș.

„Since he has done nothing for the people of Timiș, we should all chase him, maybe then he will start moving things in Timiș! (…) In fact, Nica does not lead the institution, but has delegated others to do it. Mr. Nica is often out of town, therefore people can’t expect anything from such a president,” Fritz stated in an interview for Banatul Azi.

Fritz also mentioned that all people of Timiș should chase Nica, as he recently complained in the press, that it happens to him from time to time, so that the liberal might actually start doing something for Timiș and Timișoara.

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1 comentariu

  1. It’s the author’s big mistake to equivalate between USR and socialists formal communist parties (I am including here Nationalist Party and A_U_R, as both are objectively run by formal Communist Party members or their descendants).
    And another big mistake of the author, is not to exemplify which other politician manages to keep high standards and does not compromise for the sake of common or individual benefit. If there isn’t one or some, make it clear, write it down, and close the paper.