Crin Antonescu is the new leader of the Romanian National Liberal Party (PNL). He defeated the incumbent Calin Popescu Tariceanu comfortably enough at the party’s congress today. He won 873 votes to Tariceanu’s 546.
Antonescu is an interesting character. He joined the National Liberals in the early 1990s. A former leader of the PNL parliamentary group he has been something of a back-room boy in the party and has been accused of lacking charisma. He has an interesting family story.
Tariceanu was Prime Minister, leading a minority PNL government, until elections last November. Now the National Liberals are effectively the only national opposition party after the largest parties on the left and right formed a coalition government. Tariceanu was originally associated with neo-liberal factions in the party and has long been associated with oil magnate Dinu Patriciu. Inevitably Tariceanu’s defeat will raise questions about Patriciu’s future relations with the party although Tariceanu himself has already wished Antonescu well in a show of solidarity.
The first big question will be how the result will affect the PNLs choice of candidates for the European Parliament elections in June. There will no doubt be plenty of people looking for reward for their support in the leadership election - and others who fear the consequences of backing the wrong horse. The National Liberals should be able to win at least 7 seats in the elections.
Then, of course, there will be the pretty thankless task of taking on President Basescu in the presidential elections this autumn. Ne vedem!
It is a year since Kosovo declared independence from Serbia. Insomnia led me to the BBCs ‘The Record Europe’ programme last night which included an interesting discussion of the implications of the widespread international recognition of Kosovo as a state.
The Serbs have been cast as Europe’s bad guys for some years and the Milosevic regime’s treatment of Kosovans added to the antipathy felt towards the Serbian state. Not too surprising, then, that numerous Western states rushed to recognise the legitimacy of the Kosovan state. The problem, that has been illustrated starkly in the more recent Georgian conflict, is that it sets something of a precedent.
Five EU states – including Romania and Cyprus – have not recognised Kosovo. Social Democrat MEP Adrian Severin argues that this has nothing to do with Romanian self interest. Well…, lets be charitable and say that while we are sure he firmly believes that to be the case, there may be others who would point to Romanian concerns about challenges to the country’s territorial integrity as a result of the Kosovan move.
Severin’s apparent assertion that countries should only gain their independence with the consent of the state they are seceding from stacks up uncomfortably against the whole region’s centuries-long struggle against imperial domination. Yet, it raises an important question: when should a group of people be able to legitimately declare independence from an established state? What’s to stop Surrey, say, from declaring UDI from the United Kingdom if the majority of its people so decide?
As a post script, the same recording (which is only available at that site for the next few days) includes a treat for Eurosceptics with coverage of Czech President Vaclav Klaus’s recent speech to the European Parliament.