Saturday

23rd Sep 2017

Centre-right leaders in Romania for political showdown

  • Angela Merkel and other centre-right leaders will meet in the Parliament building (Photo: European People's Party)

Angela Merkel is joining other centre-right leaders in Bucharest on Wednesday (17 October) for a party congress, even though local politicians seem nowhere near to burying the hatchet on recent infighting.

Compared to last week's protests in Greece, the dozen-or-so people chanting "Merkel, Romania is not yours" on Tuesday evening in the old part of the city looked peaceful and harmless.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Some of them were pensioners who had already taken part in bigger anti-austerity rallies earlier this year which led to the resignation of the centre-right government.

After centre-left Prime Minister Victor Ponta's failed attempt to impeach and oust centre-right President Traian Basescu from office this summer, the local political scene has remained as divided and bitter as ever.

The sharp pro-Basescu or anti-Basescu feeling is also a feature of Romanian society.

"Our coalition welcomes anyone who wants to support us in getting rid of Traian Basescu. We have assumed it as a strategy not to start asking people who are with us in this fight 'why don't you first go to school, why don't you wash your hands'," Ponta said on Monday during a TV show.

He was defending his coalition's choice in accepting as a member George Becali, an MEP and the owner of a football club, whose poor education has not prevented him from rising to prominence, despite racist and sexist comments.

On Wednesday, the centre-left coalition (USL) now in government is staging a parallel event - the launch of their candidates for general elections on 9 December.

But media focus is on the European People's Party (EPP) congress, where 1,200 guests are expected along with leaders such as Germany's Angela Merkel, Spain's Mariano Rajoy, Poland's Donald Tusk and eurozone chief Jean-Claude Juncker, as well as the heads of the EU commission and council, Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy.

The EPP event - a regular gathering ahead of EU summits - is this time taking place in the gigantic Romanian parliament building, a reminder of Communist times when Romania's dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu levelled a large part of the centre to erect the "House of the People," still the world's second-largest building after the Pentagon.

The EPP event is being seen a sign of support for Basescu, after a similar party congress of the European Socialists due to take place in Bucharest last month was moved to Brussels.

The snub for Ponta came after his failed attempt to oust Basescu, which involved ignoring verdicts by the constitutional court and which caused outrage in the EU capital.

Overt backing of Basescu is not welcomed in all corners of EU politics, however.

For his part, Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal group in the European Parliament tweeted: "Why is Barroso attending a Basescu rally in Bucharest when the EU commission has to be impartial in evaluating Romania?"

Romania, as well as Bulgaria, are the only EU members to still be under pre-membership-style monitoring of their judicial systems amid concerns about corruption and the failure by highly-politicised courts to tackle it properly.

Abuses of power - more subtle during Basescu's government and more blatant since Ponta came to power in May - have raised red flags in the EU as to the state of democracy and rule of law in the country.

But the problems have also shown the limitations of EU powers when it comes to a member of the club. And meanwhile, the political infighting in Romania goes on.

Analysis

Merkel-Macron: An EU motor in the making

Merkel's re-election is expected to revive the Franco-German EU motor, but the German leader and France's new ruler are still searching for a common vision.

EU 'embarrassed' by Catalan 'taboo'

Faced with the growing tension between the Spanish and Catalan governments, the member states and EU institutions would prefer not to get involved.

Spain arrests Catalan officials

Armed Spanish police have arrested Catalan officials and seized ballots for an independence referendum, prompting appeals for EU help.

EU countries cool on Juncker's ideas

There was not much enthusiasm voiced in EU countries after Juncker unveiled his grand ideas about a single EU president and a larger eurozone. Dutch PM Rutte suggested seeing an eye doctor.

Quiet showdown in Barcelona

Thousands of Catalans have taken to the streets, in protest against the Spanish government's efforts to prevent the independence referendum. Both sides know that violence would go against their cause.

News in Brief

  1. Dutch state appeals ban on taking air-polluting measures
  2. May proposes 2-year transition period after Brexit
  3. May to call on EU's 'sense of responsibility'
  4. Catalonia has 'contingency plans' for independence vote
  5. Last German polls confirm Merkel's lead
  6. EU to step up sanctions on North Korea
  7. Tusk calls 'euro summit' in December
  8. Report: May to seek two-year EU transition

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EEEU Finance Ministers Agreed to Develop New Digital Taxation Rules
  2. Mission of China to the EUGermany Stands Ready to Deepen Cooperation With China
  3. World VisionFirst Ever Young People Consultation to Discuss the Much Needed Peace in Europe
  4. European Jewish CongressGermany First Country to Adopt Working Definition of Antisemitism
  5. EU2017EEFour Tax Initiatives to Modernise the EU's Tax System
  6. Dialogue PlatformResponsibility in Practice: Gulen & Islamic Thought
  7. Counter BalanceHuman Rights Concerns Over EIB Loan to the Trans Anatolian Pipeline Project
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina Leads the Global Clean Energy Transition
  9. CES - Silicones EuropeFrom Baking Moulds to Oven Mitts, Silicones Are a Key Ingredient in Kitchens
  10. Martens CentreFor a New Europeanism: How to Put the Motto "Unity in Diversity" Into Practice
  11. Access MBAGet Ahead With an MBA Degree. Top MBA Event in Brussels
  12. Idealist QuarterlyIdealist Quarterly Event: Building Fearless Democracies With Gerald Hensel