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Romania: Riots Rise in Liberal Party PNL; calls for the overthrow of Orban

Riots are intensifying within the ruling PNL party. Following Rareș Bogdan, the removal of former Prime Minister Ludovic Orban from the presidency of the PNL was publicly demanded by the General Secretary of the party Robert Sighiartău.

The prefectural organizations of the party are divided as follows: a strong core that includes 17 Prefectural Organizations that gather around Ludovic Orban (who as chairman of the PNL distributed the posts of General Secretaries and so on to his people, strengthening the position his); an almost equal number of Prefectural Organizations are calling for his resignation from the presidency (reformers, mainly from Transylvania), while a smaller number of Prefectural Organizations remain undecided and are expected to take a position depending on developments.

Party President Ludovic Orban did not give a public response to the attacks, however he met yesterday with Klaus Iohannis in Cotroceni to discuss the situation within the party. In the morning, he declared that the party president is elected by the congress and until that happens, he is the leader of the PNL. He added that he discusses party issues with his colleagues in institutions and not in public.

The party is in the process of organizing an extraordinary congress to elect the new party leadership. Ludovic Orban wants to be the only candidate for the PNL presidency, who would almost certainly secure his first PNL candidacy for the 2024 presidential election. Orban would like the special congress to be held in April so that his opponents be left without time to organize, however this was considered impossible due to the pandemic. The conference should be held in person and not online, and as a result is most likely to take place in the fall, if the epidemiological situation allows.

Until then, the anti-Orban wing will have time to get better organized, as it is still looking for a candidate for the party presidency. Florin Cîțu has the support of self-proclaimed “reformers”, but so far only for the post of Prime Minister – in an effort to prevent Orban from taking full control of the party. Citu has the support of Klaus Iohannis, however his small percentages are projected to be small. One choice for the PNL presidency would be Emil Boc, whose popularity has risen to 27%. Other options could be Rareș Bogdan (24%) and Ilie Bolojan.

As usual, however, the Liberals expect a “line” from Klaus Iohannis. Reports say PNL leaders have informed him that they are awaiting indications from Klaus Iohannis for a change of leadership ahead of the conference.

Everyone in the PNL understands that whoever takes over the party presidency will be officially the next candidate for the Romanian presidency.

Finally, it should be noted that Liberal leaders in Transylvania are slowly rushing to support Rares Bogdan’s uprising against Ludovic Orban. Emil Boc has not yet made statements against Orban and, when asked by G4Media if he was ready to run for the PNL presidency, he refrained from making any comments. G4Media sources report that E. Boc does not seem ready to confront Ludovic Orban directly, as is the case with Ilie Bolojan – who, due to his irregular relationship with President Klaus Iohannis, is not in the front line of Rareș Bogdan’s team.

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