Category Archives: OPPS

Romania: A Rupture in the National Liberal Party

Ludovic Orban, the former leader of Romania’s National Liberal Party (PNL), set up a new centre-right party named Forţa Dreptei (Force of Right) in December 2021. Orban, who served as the Prime Minister from November 2019 to December 2020 and as PNL’s president between 2017 and 2021, resigned from PNL’s parliamentary group on 26 October 2021. Orban had lost PNL’s top position in September 2021 when Florin Cîțu was elected the party’s new president. The party’s National Executive Bureau expelled him in November 2021 following his accusations towards the party’s current leaders.

“We consider it a democratic and especially moral obligation for us to continue to represent the citizens of Romania who gave us the vote, put their trust and hope in us after the PNL decided to be the fifth wheel at the PSD [Social Democrats] cart. The dynamic Romania, that of craftsmen, of professionals, of those who have the initiative in society, who create, who produce, has no political representation today,” Orban said.

Immediately after Orban’s resignation, fifteen MPs followed his example: twelve members of the Chamber of Deputies and three senators. They initially became non-attached members of parliament, but Orban is likely to form a new parliamentary group in the Chamber of Deputies in the new parliamentary session starting on 1 February 2022.

Romanian analysts believe that Forţa Dreptei lacks potential to last on the political scene for long but can damage current PNL leadership and may eventually seek fusion with PNL. A similar fate was experienced by Călin Popescu Tăriceanu and Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE). Tăriceanu was the Prime Minister between 2004 and 2008; he also served as the PNL and the vice-president of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party (ELDR). In 2014, Tăriceanu left PNL due to their intention to leave Social Liberal Union (USL, a Romanian coalition of parties) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) to join European People’s Party (EPP). Shortly after his resignation, he announced that he would launch a new political party, the Liberal Reformist Party (PLR). In July 2015, PLR announced its merger with the Conservative Party (PC) to form a new party, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE). Yet, as of early 2022, the party is on the verge of dissolution and likely to merge back to PNL.

Image: Forţa Dreptei Facebook group

Lithuania: A collective switch towards a formation of a new party

Ten MPs from the party group of the Peasants and Greens Union, the largest opposition party group in Lithuanian Seimas, declared on the 7th of September that they are creating a new parliamentary group “Democrats – For Lithuania”. The new group is led by former Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis. It was joined by further three MPs from the “mixed” parliamentary group including another former Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius.

The former members of the Peasants and Greens Union parliamentary group have accused the leader of the party, Ramūnas Karbauskis, for excluding them from the decision-making in the parliamentary group and party and pursuing the course of unnecessary polarisation with the centre-right government. The faction includes some of the more liberal Peasant and Green MPs who have recently challenged Karbauskis’ conservative positions on single-sex partnership legislation.

Skvernelis was not a member of the Peasants and Greens Union but played a key role in its electoral victory in the 2016 parliamentary election and served as its prime minister in 2016-2020. The departure of Skvernelis and his supporters weakens the parliamentary influence of the Peasants and Greens, leaving them with only 22 out of 67 opposition MPs, and may also be related to its drop in public opinion polls from 15 to 10 percent. The split also signals party’s definite shift from the catch-all appeal – most prominent in the 2016 election – to the socially conservative ideological positions and populist rhetoric.

Initially stating that it is too early to discuss the creation of a new party, on the 18th of October representatives of the new parliamentary faction declared the intention to create a new political party. In the meantime, the split of the Peasants and Greens Union seems to have been most beneficial for the opposition Social Democrats which, after electoral defeats in 2016 and 2020, are leading in the polls again.

Photo credits: Darius Janutis. Source: infolex.lt.