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  Nr. 4159 de vineri, 15 februarie 2008 
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The Liberal version of the Cluj group
Several Liberals in Cluj, headed by vice mayor Adrian Popa, think the PNL (National Liberal Party) is taking distance from genuine liberalism, because of sliding on the social path. They say that, wishing to govern at any costs, the party has left the right center for the left center. According to Adrian Popa and his men, the electoral alms effecting in fiscal measures giving a hard time to entrepreneurs have actually sacrificed the traditional electorate of the PNL. Therefore, this small group argues, the PNL must return to the right center by ideological measures instead of Liberal-social governing. This is how the "Liberal Manifesto of Cluj-Napoca" and "Cluj Theses on Romanian Liberalism" have emerged. These are two issues for debate, even if the the leaders busy with ruling will certainly smother them in the bud. But they are sure to be reinvented once with the account due after the future elections.
Approached in terms of the state of things in the PNL, this small reforming group doesn't mean much. The Liberal version of the Cluj group doesn't enjoy the notoriety of the Cluj group in the PSD (Social-Democrat Party) and it also lacks the power and influence of the liberal group in Iasi, relying on Radu Fenechiu, Cristian Adomnitei and Tudor Chiuariu. Therefore the group has been executed with no fuss. The district organization the initiators were affiliated to has been dismembered, allegedly because of the poor score in the Euro-elections. After becoming an interim leader of this branch, Marius Nicoara has promised not to ask that his colleagues be expelled from the party because of their opinions and he has claimed any suggestion can be openly debated on in the PNL. This is to be seen.
But let us briefly mention that Norica Nicolai is a member of the Liberal group in Cluj. Together with Crin Antonescu, she is in the habit of coming up with all sorts of daring suggestions in meetings, which boss Calin Popescu Tariceanu dislikes. The Cabinet restructuring and the quitting are just two examples. And Adrian Popa claims he has been deprived of leadership for being much too close to Ludovic Orban and Crin Antonescu, but not to Calin Popescu Tariceanu.
Maybe domestic matters such as the identification of the "sides" within the PNL are little relevant for the time being. It is important that a group within the party has raised a few legitimate questions: is the PNL still representative of the right-oriented electorate, since pension raise is the 'pearl' of the government's measure? What about the businessmen, crafstmen, lawyers, architects and doctors? Are they satisfied with the policies developed by the Liberal Cabinet?
According to the Manifesto authors, from a party of the middle class the PNL has turned into a political force that grabs everybody, trying to meet the interests of larger and larger groups, in the search for political support to keep the party ruling. The authors think the party's electoral growth is actually a speculative one, not relying on those liberal political ideas typical of the Romanian right. For now, the only reply to this Manifesto has come from the interim officials of the branch in Cluj. According to Marius Nicoara, modern liberalism is different from classical liberalism and responsible governing can't focus on right elements only. This is all.
Gone are the days when the Liberal Studied Institute, the Free Initiative Institute or the Horia Rusu Foundation would house public debates and analyze in ideological and practical terms. It seems the rulers have no longer got time for such things. It is much easier to have back stage negotiations, arrange some opinion polls and hire some advisers to teach you how and when to strike in politics.
In brief, the initiators of the Liberal Manifesto of Cluj suggest a new approach to the fiscal system, the urgent privatization of all the state-owned companies and the making of a liberal Constitution to include clear and functional separations of the powers in state. Will they be expelled from the party?
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