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"Iliescu’s Comeback is Absolutely Normal"

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27 Aug 2004 - 00:00


POLITICS August 27th 2004

Today’s extraordinary Congress of the [ruling] Social Democrat Party (SDP) will have as main line of business nominating PM Adrian Nastase its candidate for the country’s presidency.

The Congress will also agree on the electoral strategy and offer the SDP will make for the general elections. It is possible that Nastase and Geoana [Mircea, foreign affairs minister] would run in tandem: one for the presidency, the other as PM.
Mediafax wire service interviewed yesterday Nastase. Here is the interview:

  • Reporter: Do you believe that the primaries in the SDP would really bring about change, or they are just for show, as some political analysts said?

    Adrian Nastase: I think that the primaries are indeed an important moment for the SDP. The party members understood that the moment for major changes has come. Many comment that the party "took a cold shower" at the local elections [in June]. I say this: for any party, elections are an opportunity for dialogue with the electorate. It is important to understand what [the voters] tell you. The primaries will be extremely benefic to the SDP.
    I wanted to give a personal example to all party members who wish to run in these [fall general] elections. They must first pass a test inside party ranks, to stand in front of their colleagues and make them elect them, because this is how a democratic mechanism works. We want to demonstrate that the party is not made of an upper layer and a lower layer - the one of the people doing the work on the ground. Not this is the way things should stand, and this is why it is important for each of us to test how much support he or she has inside party ranks.
    Some of my colleagues still did not get how this mechanism works and seek [my support] four years on, but I told them there was no way I could help them. Some of my colleagues thought they were parliamentarians for life and, no matter the support they mustered, they will stay intangible. Some may care less whether the party is ruling or stays in opposition, as long as they hold a seat in the Parliament. To these people I want to send the message that the time for change has come. I am interested in the SDP future, and for that [future] I think and act.

  • Reporter: The SDP maintains that it promotes the young. How can you explain then the criticism coming from the party’s young members?

    Adrian Nastase:
    I stressed the need for promoting the young and the women since this answers the expectations the electorate holds and the need for rebuilding the new SDP. At the same time I also criticized the young [SDP members] when they chose to direct their criticism from outside party ranks, and not from within. It is true there is a risk for some of the young [party members] to be pushed aside by heads of organizations. But I am sure this can be avoided if the young [party members] communicate better with representatives of county party organizations.

  • Reporter: Why did you postpone making public that you will run for Presidency?

    Adrian Nastase:
    I came to the decision to run in a natural way, and everybody expected me to make this announcement. However, I first needed the informal meetings I engaged in the past months to make sure I will have the popular support, not only from my party colleagues. If I will become president, then "my party" will have several million members, and they were the ones I wanted to talk to.
    There is a need for certain continuity with the time of relative political stability when President Iliescu succeeded to keep the [political] balance in the country. There is a need for the job to be taken over with the same care for the people, with the same concern for keeping the balance, so that Romania would avoid crises, turmoil, social problems and Romanians would be able to live at higher standards with a view towards European Integration. I will first run tomorrow, in front of my [party] colleagues, and this will be my first test to pass.

  • Reporter: How about the dirty campaigning [in which you already engaged]?

    Adrian Nastase:
    I want to make it clear that not we were those to start the negative campaigning now. We warned the Alliance [of the National Liberal Party and Democrat Party] that if they want to go into that type of campaigning for the parliamentary and presidential elections, then this time we will react, unlike what we did at the local elections.

  • Reporter: What is your opinion on President Iliescu’s coming back into the SDP ranks?

    Adrian Nastase:
    As I already said a few days ago, President Iliescu’s coming back was the normal thing to happen. It was only logic that we invited the President to run on the SDP lists and get back at the helm of the party, after the elections [in the fall], given that I will run for the Presidency of Romania. Ion Iliescu always acted as a stabilizing and balancing factor inside the party.

  • Reporter: What are your expectations from the SDP Congress?

    Adrian Nastase:
    I am sure this extraordinary Congress will confirm the change within the party and show that we have a serious team which means business. A proof that all we did lately was valid comes from recent public polls. Also, the attacks of the opposition, desperate by the day, show the SDP is on the right track. The fact that we were serious about doing our job during the last four years in office and the programs we propose now give us the chance to win the elections in the fall. I expect that starting today my colleagues will come forward in a more obvious way and strengthen the team that we will present to the electorate in November.
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