The leaders of local branches of the opposition Social Democratic Party – PSD voted against the executive president of the group, Adrian Nastase, following marathon talks that stretched well after midnight on Tuesday. The vote prompted Nastase to announce his resignation as speaker of the House and executive head of the PSD. But he said he would not leave the party for good.

Local PSD leaders voted 37 to 16 to withdraw their political support for Nastase whom many of them blame for a terrible loss in popularity for the group, as shown in the latest opinion polls. Nastase taints the party image with the cases of graft and corruption launched against him, many PSD officials including the top leadership believe.

As the impact of Nastase’s withdrawal is not yet clear, Nastase warned fellow PSD politicians his withdrawal as speaker of the House of Deputies meant PSD would lose this position that it obtained despite remaining in the opposition, in the foggy post-electoral days of the 2004 elections.

The PSD also decided to establish a Honorable Council led by ex-President Ion Iliescu, who has been excluded from the top leadership of the group following elections one and a half years ago.

PSD president Mircea Geoana said that while a party congress was necessary it may not occur too soon or even at all.