05BUCHAREST1348 / 2005-06-13 09:35:00
Embassy Bucharest
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BUCHAREST 001348 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/13/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, KDEM, SOCI, RO, political assessment, biographic information 
SUBJECT: DAMAGED EGOS, DIVIDED PARTIES -- FISSURES IN 
ROMANIA'S OPPOSITION 
 
REF: A. A) BUCHAREST 1245 
 
     B. B) BUCHAREST 1003 
 
Classified By: POLITICAL SECTION CHIEF ROBERT GILCHRIST FOR REASONS 1.4 
 B AND D 
 
1. (C) Summary.  Six months after national elections, 
Romania,s parliamentary opposition has been shaken by public 
squabbling and some political defections that may precipitate 
more fundamental changes.  Ex-President Ion Iliescu has 
threatened to resign from the former ruling Social Democratic 
Party (PSD), potentially taking with him key PSD stalwarts 
and the strong electoral support he still enjoys among some 
voting groups. Separately, Corneliu Vadim Tudor has formally 
returned to the helm of the extreme nationalist Greater 
Romania Party (PRM), provoking a schism within that movement. 
The beneficiary is the center right Liberal-Democratic 
alliance-led government, which will likely receive support 
from newly independent MPs.  End Summary. 
 
2. (SBU) Several developments among Romania,s opposition 
parties in recent weeks have produced some realignments in 
the parliament, with potentially more change.  The primary 
motivator thus far has been the damaged egos of former 
President and PSD founder Ion Iliescu; and, Greater Romania 
Party (PRM) leader and founder Corneliu Vadim Tudor.  The 
opposition Liberal-Democratic alliance has remained largely 
mute on the sidelines, benefiting from the opposition,s 
internal squabbles and even increasing its support in the 
parliament though &political migration.8 
 
HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE ILIESCU SCORNED 
-------------------------------------- 
3. (SBU) Immediately after his failure to win the PSD 
presidency at the April 21 party congress, many political 
insiders predicted that Iliescu would never graciously accept 
second class status within the party he had founded (Ref A). 
The defeat initially came as a personal shock to him -- in 
fact, he was hospitalized for several weeks due to heart 
problems precipitated by stress. Shortly after his release 
and following the advice of some of his closest advisors, he 
announced on June 3 that he was &seriously considering8 
quitting the party. He asserted that he was disgusted by 
&corruption8 within the PSD, claiming that his loss to 
ex-FM Mircea Geoana in his bid for the party,s presidency 
was the result of behind-the-scenes maneuvering.  He also 
stated that his presence in the party might block &new 
forces8 (Geoana and his team) from &moving forward with 
their agenda.8 
 
4. (SBU) A few weeks before, Ioan Talpes, PSD senator and 
Iliescu,s former security counselor, resigned from the 
party, accusing the current leadership of &treating Iliescu 
unfairly.8  The same day, Talpes met with Romanian President 
Traian Basescu at the presidential palace.  Many political 
insiders speculate that Talpes provided information to 
Basescu on corruption within the PSD, including that related 
to jailed Syrian-Romanian businessman Omar Hayssam - now 
credibly implicated in the kidnapping of 3 Romanian 
journalists in Iraq. Four other less-prominent MPs and a 
number of local leaders also resigned from the PSD as an 
expression of their disagreement with the party,s new 
&leadership policies8 and in support of Iliescu. Some in 
the media predicted the emergence of a new political party 
surrounding Iliescu that would divide Romania,s left. 
 
4. (SBU) The new leadership of the PSD, however, quickly 
rallied to smooth feelings and prevent what they feared could 
be a meltdown within the party.  Although to many, Iliescu 
represents a remnant of Romania,s communist past, local 
political analysts point out that he still commands a loyal 
following, especially among rural, older, and less-educated 
voters. He can also count on the support of numerous local 
leaders. PSD Executive President and ex-PM Adrian Nastase 
admitted June 5 that Iliescu,s departure from the PSD would 
&greatly damage8 the party.  He urged Iliescu to remain 
within the fold and accept the party,s decision to elect 
Geoana as president. 
 
5.  (C) On June 6, a delegation of PSD elder statesmen called 
on Iliescu and urged him to remain in the PSD, for the sake 
of the party,s unity. Following that meeting, Iliescu backed 
off from his earlier remarks, promising in a joint press 
conference with Geoana that he would remain as head of the 
PSD Senators in Parliament until September.  Analysts viewed 
the joint appearance, especially given Iliescu,s recent 
criticisms of Geoana as an opportunist, as a sign of restored 
party unity - at least for now.  Nonetheless, many analysts 
continue to opine that it is &only a matter of time8 before 
Iliescu leaves the PSD.  Much also depends on the impact of a 
recent announcement of criminal charges against Iliescu for 
inciting miners, riots in the early 1990,s (septel). 
Although it is the common belief among many Romanians that 
Iliescu was behind the deadly riots, a drawn out debate over 
his role could further erode his popular support. 
 
TUDOR RETURNS TO PRM,S HELM (HE NEVER REALLY LEFT) 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
6. (SBU) As PSD,s troubles simmered, those within the 
extreme nationalist Greater Romanian Party (PRM) came to a 
full boil.  The party,s core membership June 4 voted to 
restore the movement,s founder Corneliu Vadim Tudor as the 
party,s president. The decision followed days of publicized 
infighting culminating in the PRM Standing Bureau,s June 2 
decision to expel from the party former president Corneliu 
Ciontu and PRM vice-president Anghel Stanciu.  The Convention 
accused both men, handpicked by Tudor in March to lead the 
party when he stepped down as the party,s titular leader, of 
&plotting8 against Tudor. 
 
7.  (C) The June 4 convention also voted to drop the word 
&popular8 from the party,s name ) effectively ending the 
PRM,s bid to affiliate itself with the center-right European 
Popular Party (EPP)(Ref B).  The PRM,s decision to return to 
its original name followed the decision of a delegation of 
the European Popular Party (EPP), which visited Bucharest 
June 2-3, not to open negotiations with PRM.  According to 
independent Embassy contacts, Ciontu had attempted to present 
a credible application to the EPP, but Tudor sabotaged his 
efforts from behind the scenes, remaining the party,s de 
facto, if not de jure, leader.  PRM leaders have also 
observed that the party,s core electorate (mostly aging, 
rural, and nationalist) was confused by Tudor,s replacement 
in March by the little known Ciontu and Tudor,s superficial 
attempts to transform the PRM into a mainstream center-right 
party.  For most Romanians, including the PRM,s supporters, 
Tudor and the PRM are one in the same, with the party 
inextricably linked to Tudor,s ultranationalist message. 
Party insiders loyal to Tudor were also vexed that Ciontu,s 
temporary accession to the party,s presidency meant that 
their influence within the party had diminished. 
 
8. (SBU) Erstwhile PRM president Ciontu subsequently declared 
that he and six other PRM Chamber deputies plus five 
independent deputies (who resigned from the PRM group of 
deputies in February) will form a separate parliamentary 
group with the goal of establishing a &modern 
Christian-Democratic party.8  In a June 2 interview, Ciontu 
excluded any compromise with Tudor and said that his PRM 
colleagues had to choose between &nationalism and 
euro-popular identity,8 between &isolation and responsible 
government.8  Two regional PRM branches have already 
publicly vowed to join Ciontu,s movement.  Ex-PRM member and 
Iasi vice-mayor Constantin Neculau echoed their sentiments 
when he stated that Vadim,s comeback and Ciontu,s expulsion 
make it impossible for the PRM to enter the political 
mainstream, either within Romania or as part of the EPP. 
Indeed, recent polls show the PRM,s level of popular support 
as steadily declining, with one sounding showing only seven 
percent of voters supporting the PRM (which gained 13 percent 
in fall,s parliamentary elections). 
 
9. (U) The two major parties of the center-right governing 
coalition, the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the 
Democratic Party (PD), have been the main beneficiaries of 
the PSD,s and PRM,s internal struggles.  Four of the PSD 
and PRM defectors have already joined one of the governing 
parties and those who have remained independent have voted, 
so far, with the center-right coalition. In February three PD 
deputies left the party after a falling out between former PD 
senior leader and deputy Cosmin Gusa and President Basescu. 
Gusa and two other deputies now call their small bloc in the 
Chamber the National Initiative Party (PIN). 
 
WHAT THE PARLIAMENT LOOKS LIKE NOW 
---------------------------------- 
10.  (SBU) The net effect of changes in the Parliament thus 
far appears to be a better standing for the PNL-PD led 
coalition.  Embassy contacts within the Parliament tell us 
the new bloc of renegade PRM members led by Ciontu plans to 
support the governing coalition, in an attempt to appear like 
a mainstream Christian Democratic movement.  The governing 
coalition will still be challenged in the Senate, where its 
majority remains relatively slim and few changes have 
occurred. 
 
11. (U) The composition of the Parliament, compared to 
December 2004, is as follows: 
 
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES (seats) 
               Dec. 2004     June 2005 
PNL*                64             66 
PD*                 48             45 
PSD                113            111 
PC*                 19             20 
PRM                 48             34 
UDMR*               22             22 
Minorities*         18             18 
Independent          0              1 
Ex-PRM(Ciontu Group) 0             12 
PIN (Gusa Group)     0              3 
 
Total             332             332 
 
*Ruling coalition 
 
 
SENATE (seats) 
 
                Dec. 2004        June 2005 
PNL*               29                30 
PD*                20                20 
PSD                46                44 
PC*                11                11 
PRM                21                20 
UDMR*              10                10 
Minorities*         - 
Independents        -                 2 
 
Total             137               137 
 
*Ruling coalition 
 
12. (SBU) Comment:  Romania,s proportional &party list8 
system in place since 1990 has historically been 
characterized by party splintering and changes in party 
affiliation in periods following national elections.  From 
2000-2004, such fluctuation benefited the then ruling PSD, 
which greatly increased its ranks at both the national and 
local level.  The current trend appears to be moving towards 
the center-right.  Bucharest analysts are split as to what a 
departure of Iliescu from PSD would mean for the party.  Some 
say it would be a serious blow, splitting the socialist left. 
 Others say it would present an opportunity for Geoana and 
others to refit the party with a modern Social Democratic 
image.  The extreme nationalist and xenophobic PRM faces 
greater challenges, with some pundits asserting the movement 
may be diminishing in both influence and ultimately popular 
support.  Until the 2000 elections, the PRM typically counted 
on roughly 7-8 percent of the vote.  Recent polling suggests 
the party may be returning to that level after winning an 
historically high 26 percent of parliamentary seats in the 
2000 election. We anticipate further defections from the PRM 
in the parliament toward the political mainstream.  End 
Summary. 
 
13. (U) Amembassy Bucharest,s reporting telegrams are 
available on the Bucharest SIPRNET Website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest . 
DELARE 

            
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