05BUCHAREST1521 / 2005-07-08 15:09:00
Embassy Bucharest
                C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BUCHAREST 001521 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - WILLIAM SILKWORTH 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/08/2015 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ECON, KDEM, SOCI, RO 
SUBJECT: RULING ALLIANCE MOVES TOWARD ELECTIONS; OPPOSITION 
IN DISARAY, SEEKS COMPROMISE 
 
REF: A. BUCHAREST 1511 
 
     B. BUCHAREST 1433 
     C. BUCHAREST 1348 
 
BUCHAREST 00001521  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Political Section Chief Robert S. Gilchrist for Reasons 
1.4 B and D 
 
 1. (C) Summary:  The governing Liberal-Democratic (PNL-PD) 
alliance on July 8 continued to send out strong messages that 
the country is headed for early parliamentary elections, 
following the surprise July 7 resignation of the cabinet. 
President Basescu is expected to accept the resignations and 
appoint an interim prime minister by July 14.  The likely 
date for the vote will be late September or early October. 
Meanwhile, the opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD), 
concerned about a possible severe electoral loss, is seeking 
negotiations to prevent an early vote.  Tariceanu is expected 
to remain in place in the interim government, along with 
other key cabinet members.  End Summary. 
 
2. (SBU) Romanian media entered a frenzy of speculation July 
8 over the prospects of new parliamentary elections, 
following the announced resignation on July 7 of Prime 
Minister Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and his center right cabinet 
(ref a).  Embassy contacts said the political parties were 
taken by surprise by the resignations, even those within the 
ruling coalition.  Meanwhile, party leaders entered 
discussions to determine the course of events for the coming 
months and to forge backroom deals. 
 
 
PNL-PD Committed to Elections 
----------------------------- 
3. (C) Multiple PNL-PD insiders confirmed to Post that the 
alliance is committed to elections and is making plans for a 
vote in late September or early October; the most likely date 
would be October 2.  The two parties have also agreed on 
electoral arrangements between themselves -- primarily that 
the Prime Minister will come from PNL, and that the electoral 
list and seats in parliament will be divided evenly between 
each party (Note: PNL outnumbers PD in the current parliament 
by a previously agreed ratio of 1.3 to one).  Foreign 
Minister Mihai Razvan Ungureanu told Charge that the PNL-PD 
led government is committed to continuing its activities as 
"closely to business-as-usual as possible."  Ungureanu said 
this applies particularly to issues related to EU accession. 
Presidential Counselor Claudiu Saftoiu told PolChief that 
Basescu would likely reappoint Tariceanu as interim Prime 
Minister and that many ministers would remain in place, even 
after elections. 
 
4. (C) Although President Basescu was reportedly slated to 
make a press statement on July 7, thus far he has remained 
publicly quiet on the Cabinet resignations.  Until he 
formally names an interim prime minister and accepts the 
Cabinet's resignation, the current government continues to 
operate as previously. Saftiou confided that Presidential 
advisors hoped for an announcement soon, but that the PNL-PD 
would need to work out details of timing on elections and 
pass electoral legislation.  Other PNL-PD insiders expected 
this to happen by July 14. 
 
 
The Opposition Panics 
--------------------- 
5.  (C) Embassy contacts within the PSD have confessed that 
the party was taken by complete surprise by the government's 
resignation.  One contact characterized the PSD leadership as 
being "in total disarray."  Meanwhile, senior PSD members 
publicly accused the PNL-PD of putting partisan interests 
above the interests of the country.  PSD President Mircea 
Geoana publicly called the Tariceanu government the "worst 
the country had had in the last 15 years" and accused 
President Basescu of being behind the resignations.  (Note: 
Under the Romanian constitution, the President is obliged to 
refrain from participation in partisan politics.  End note). 
Geoana further asserted that the "unprecedented political and 
constitutional crisis," was artificially created to give 
Basescu "absolute power."  Nonetheless, he noted that the PSD 
had already entered discussions with other parliamentary 
parties about potential electoral pacts. 
 
6. (C) PSD senior parliamentary leader Viorel Hrebenciuc 
reaffirmed to PolChief that the PSD had entered one of the 
most heated days of internal discussions the party had ever 
had.  Hrebenciuc confessed privately that the PSD was not 
prepared for Tariceanu's surprise resignation or for 
 
BUCHAREST 00001521  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
elections, which the party feared it would lose.  Hrebenciuc 
said that PSD had offered a compromise deal with the PNL-PD 
to carry out a vote in Parliament to override the 
Constitutional Court decision that precipitated the 
government's resignation.  He confided that some in the PNL 
rank-and-file were ready to accept such a deal, but had 
little hope that Tariceanu or other senior PNL-PD leaders 
would agree to it.  Hrebenciuc described Romanian national 
politics as being "in total chaos."  He said he had heard 
many scenarios of how events may unfold in coming weeks, 
including the "tragic" possibility that PSD would be forced 
to forge a parliamentary coalition to vote in favor of a 
PNL-PD government and program.  At mid-day he had placed odds 
of early elections at 50-50; however, Post understands he had 
adjusted those odds to 75-25 in favor of elections by later 
the same day. 
 
7. (C) The extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party (PRM) 
publicly supported new elections, with leader Corneliu Vadim 
Tudor calling for presidential elections in addition to those 
for parliament. Internally, according to contacts who know 
the PRM, many members dread the idea of returning to the 
polls and have begged Tudor to oppose them.  However, Tudor 
is interested in taking out of Parliament a large group of 
former members who have defected from the party in recent 
months (ref c).  According to recent polls, support for the 
party has dropped from roughly 13 to 10 percent since 
November 2004 elections.  Nonetheless, according to one 
counselor in the prime minister's office, Tudor would "prefer 
the smaller representation than to having to deal with his 
renegades in Parliament." 
 
8. (C) Although the small Conservative Party (PC) is formally 
a member of the governing coalition, for the purposes of new 
elections it would likely fall on the side of the opposition. 
 Saftoiu claimed to PolChief that the PNL-PD will "refuse to 
negotiate" with the PC, which Basescu has referred to even 
publicly as an "immoral" or "parasitic" party.  The leader of 
the PC is media magnate Dan Voiculescu, who is alleged to 
have had links with the former Securitate internal 
intelligence service.  Nonetheless, some PNL-PD insiders 
believe PNL-PD will have to negotiate with some members of 
the PC to secure a continued parliamentary majority capable 
of forcing elections.  This may come in the form of offering 
some PC members places on the new PNL-PD electoral list for 
the next parliament. 
 
 
Ethnic Hungarians Reluctantly Agree 
----------------------------------- 
9. (SBU) Members of the ethnic Hungarian party (UDMR) have 
long confessed to Post concerns that new elections risk 
wiping the party off the map, as there is always a 
possibility that it will not meet the required 5 percent 
electoral threshold for entering Parliament. Nonetheless, 
some contacts admitted that the party felt it "had no choice" 
but to join the PNL-PD in supporting early elections if the 
UDMR hopes to remain in government following the vote. 
Mid-afternoon July 8, UDMR president Marko Bela publicly 
announced support for snap elections as "a means for 
strengthening the parliamentary majority."  He acknowledged 
that elections could be avoided, but said that the UDMR still 
felt compelled to join the government in pressing for the 
vote. 
 
10. (C) Comment:  Rumors abound in Bucharest that the call 
for new elections is merely PNL-PD brinksmanship to bring 
about concessions from the PSD on key reform legislation and 
on issues such as parliamentary leadership.  However, every 
PNL-PD contact with whom we have spoken in recent days has 
underscored that elections "are not in doubt." 
As reported in reftels, Basescu has repeatedly called for new 
elections to capitalize on his popularity and increase the 
PNL-PD majority.  While there are still a few constitutional 
hurdles and negotiations continue with potential electoral 
allies, it is increasingly clear he will get what he wants. 
 
11.  (U)  Amembassy Bucharest's reporting telegrams are 
available on the Bucharest SIPRNET Website: 
www.state.sgov.gov/p/eur/bucharest 
TAPLIN 

            
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