By Ioan Bucuraș
What do they have in common, you may ask? They were both prime ministers of Romania for over 3 years, they both lead their parties for roughly 5 years and they both became backbenchers which lead them to creating their own parties. Sounds almost like a match made in heaven, doesn’t it?
Victor Ponta, former PSD leader, created ProRomania – supposedly a “genuine Social-Democratic party” – the real lefties, the cool kids around the block, while Calin Popescu-Tariceanu, surrounded by almost half of the old PNL guard, created ALDE Romania, only to be later kicked out of its European namesake party for actively supporting PSD’s siege against the rule of law and trying to foster anti-EU sentiments across its electorate.
After constantly lashing out at each other over the past years, it looks like the two power-hungry rebranded politicians realised that they have much more in common than they thought. Tariceanu pulled his party out to leave PSD governing alone – which now has led to ProRomania and ALDE trying to form an electoral alliance. With the Hungarian minority party RMDSZ (who also used to be a supporting governing coalition party) withdrawing its support months ago and ALDE jumping off the governing boat, the survival of the current PSD government is seriously in question. A vote of no confidence against PSD, less than 3 months before the presidential elections, could have disastrous consequences for the party.
It remains to be seen whether a new majority will be formed and whether it will revolve around PNL, co-opting the two recycled parties into a potential government. PNL has its own history of cooperating with PSD when one least expects. Now it could be a purely tactical reason: keep the government alive but block its decisions in parliament, applying the same tactics that PSD did a few years back against Ciolos’s government. This would be a “slow and certain death” for PSD. Any newly formed coalition with the rebranded second ranks (ProRomania and ALDE) would have dire consequences for PNL at the upcoming parliamentary elections.
Rebrand, reshuffle, reuse. Recycling monsters is something that is not new to the Romanian public. It’s what plagued the country and its political class for the last few decades. No wonder there was and still is a lot of voter apathy. No wonder that people ask themselves: is this really how politics works? Does it turn people into monsters? Does it really stomp and burn down any sign of honesty and morality? Do politicians ever stand by what they say?
Surely not the old political guard in Romania.