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Sources: Difficult negotiations taking place between Romania's governing Democratic Liberals and opposition Liberals

Joi, 26 august 2010, 20:27 English | Politics

Representatives of the opposition National Liberal Party (PNL) have been negotiating since early August with second-tier leaders of the governing Democratic Liberals (PDL) a possible accession to government, sources close to the talks told HotNews.ro. A first term of the Liberals would be the exclusion of heavyweight PDL ministers such as Radu Berceanu, Adriean Videanu and Vasile Blaga from the government, according to the sources. For their part, the PDL negotiators demanded proof of loyalty from the Liberals. PNL senators voted on Tuesday a series key bills pushed by the parties supporting PDL leader Emil Boc's government.

The bills were a new law regulating the National Agency for Integrity (ANI), a series of laws on low-level justice reform and a significant change to the law on the functioning of the Constitutional Court. Without the vote of the Liberals, these bills would not have passed the Senate.

Negotiations are said to be ongoing, but PDL representatives seem skeptical about their conclusion with a PNL accession to government. Some claim these are pseudo-negotiations by which PDL are allegedly looking to devide PDL and create the necessary circumstances to suspend president Traian Basescu. Officially, the Liberals are denying holding negotiations with PDL.

According to information obtained by HotNews.ro, the talks appear to have been attended by top PNL leaders Crin Antonescu and Radu Rusanu. PDL was allegedly represented by MPs and leaders from across the country. The talks appear to have started in early August, after Social Democratic (PSD, main opposition group) leader Victor Ponta and PNL leader Antonescu had a tough exchange of words and the PSD even accused PNL of being interested of joining the PDL-run government.

PDL sources told HotNews.ro that talks took place with the Liberals for an alliance starting this autumn but that nothing was settled. They said talks were held at parliamentary level and that the Liberals asked that PDL heavyweights such as minister Vasile Blaga be removed in a government reshuffle. They said an alliance based on such demands was unlikely.

Other PDL sources confirmed that talks have taken place and the PNL demand that top PDL ministers leave the government. They said that so far the Liberals showed availability for negotiations as they voted the ANI law and the new regulations on the functioning of the Constitutional Court.

PM Emil Boc thanked the Liberals publicly for their vote on the ANI law in an interview for the public radio on Wednesday.

Contacted by HotNews.ro, PNL vice-president Dan Radu Rusanu denied that his party was negotiating with the PDL a possible accession to government. A similar stand had PNL Crin Antonescu when prompted on the issue. Antonescu said that the PNL senators' vote on the ANI law was decided within the party. A Liberal senator had a similar stand.

Social Democratic leader Victor Ponta said in an interview for HotNews.ro on August 4 that he expected PNL to join the government along PDL this autumn.

Still, other sources close to the talks say these are a form of pseudo-negotiation and that the disputes between Ponta and Antonescu earlier this year was allegedly orchestrated to leave the impression they were going separate ways. During the negotiations, the Liberals allegedly demanded the replacement of PSD official Mircea Geoana as Senate speaker, should the PSD initiate such a move, with a Liberal Senator. But, as long as Mircea Geoana is speaker of the Senate, he is for the governing PDL a guarantee that Victor Ponta's PSD would not initiate the suspension of President Basescu. A suspended Basescu would mean the second top official in the country, Senate speaker Mircea Geoana, would take over as interim President. Geoana, who is at odds with Ponta, would thus control the political games within the PSD.


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