After Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Romania, the Liberal Party is in a difficult situation.
In the last two years, after their candidate Klaus Iohannis won the presidential elections of 2014, the Romanian Liberals have managed to waste much of the electoral support and public trust that had brought them to that performance. One of Romania’s historical parties, going back more than 140 years, the National Liberal Party has not managed to prove that their semi-failure in the local elections last summer was a one-off episode.
Their dip in the polls was confirmed at Sunday’s parliamentary elections when the party won only 20% of the votes, lagging behind their main rival, the leftist Social Democratic Party, by a huge 25%. This result, unexpectedly bad even for the most pessimistic of Liberals, has troubled the waters at the top.
Alina Gorghiu, the party’s sole leader after co-president Vasile Blaga stepped down due to his run-in with the law, has also resigned. This is by all accounts a normal decision, despite being so rare in Romanian politics, and one that many political commentators ironically describe as the only inspired decision she ever made during her tenure.
In an emergency meeting on Tuesday, Raluca Turcan, the leader of the Liberal Party’s Sibiu branch that won the highest score in the latest elections, was unanimously elected interim president of the party. She pointed out that her mandate is for three months only, until the National Convention elects a new leadership.
Raluca Turcan: “We will hold elections from the bottom up, so that we can truly choose the best people. And I believe that the National Liberal Party does have people with authority, with achievements and with expertise who must play a role in our political decisions.”
Turcan, who says she is not considering standing for president of the party, also announced her number one priority:
Raluca Turcan: “I’m not chasing any position. I only want to support the reconstruction of the National Liberal Party, which people see as the representative of the Romanian right wing.”
Former justice minister Catalin Predoiu is the only one to have confirmed his intention to run for president of the National Liberal Party. Having kept a low profile in recent months, after the disastrous results in the local elections for his Bucharest branch, Predoiu is seen by many observers as a solution, albeit not the perfect one. In any case, interesting times are ahead for the National Liberal Party, who is now forced to fight hard to earn back its former standing.