Romania's new Liberal head Crin Antonescu pledges to drive party to success along with Ludovic Orban
The largest opposition party in Romania, the Liberal Party (PNL), elected last night its new leader, Crin Antonescu, who took the helm from former premier and party head Calin Popescu Tariceanu and will work side by side with former transportation minister Ludovic Orban.
“If a simple man like me succeeded in becoming a party president that means that every Romanian has a chance,” Antonescu said last night upon hearing the voting results. He promised to start out a new chapter in the history of one of the oldest parties in Romania.
Antonescu asked Romanians who mistrust politicians to join him as a new era of the Liberal Party will begin. He also thanked three past leaders, Radu Campeanu, Mircea Ionescu Quintus and Tariceanu.
Antonescu collected 873 ballots while Tariceanu got only 546. Many party members viewed the latter as the man who divided the party and drove away key figures like economist Theodor Stolojan who formed a Liberal Democrat Party with other colleagues. Later on they joined the Democrat Party which the chief of state headed until winning the presidential race in 2004.
Liberals and Democrats ruled the government side by side for almost two years after defeating the powerful Social Democrat Party (PSD) in a tough election in 2004. However, soon after taking the executive helm, misunderstandings between the two groups spurred, the result of the bad relationship premier Tariceanu had with the president. In less than two years Liberals succeeded in ousting the Democrats from the Cabinet after carrying a reshuffling.
However, at the November 30 Parliament elections last year PSD and PDL won most votes. The government formed by the two excluded the Liberal Party, placed third in elections. The Liberal Democrats won 115 seats in the 334-member Chamber of Deputies while the Social Democrats took 114. The Liberals gained only 65 seats.
Back then, both the Social Democrats and Liberal Democrats said they halted coalition talks with the Liberals after the party insisted on keeping a Liberal prime minister. Consequently the party ended up on the opposition bench.
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