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The former ruling Democratic Liberal Party is due to elect a new president in a few days' time, but the bitter struggle for the leadership is not aiding its recovery in the polls.
Three politicians, including two women, are competing to run the Democratic Liberal Party, Romania’s biggest opposition party, in internal elections scheduled for March 23.
Analysts are cautious of naming the future head, but agree that the PDL faces a period of disruption owing to the bitter disputes between the main contenders.
“The PDL has only two options, reform or dissolution, and the current disputes are not helping the party regain public support,” journalist Andreea Pora said.
The current party leader, Vasile Blaga, 56, says he will not enter into coalitions with any of the ruling parties, which some PDL members have accused him of wanting to.
His main competitor is the former Tourism Minister, Elena Udrea, who has focused mainly on attacking Blaga's record.
Udrea, 40, has attracted attention throughout her political career. She once posed for a fashion magazine in an issue dedicated to powerful women after catching the public eye with an expensive outfit during a TV show and a press conference.
Her taste for high fashion has been both criticized and lauded, and she has publicly stated her conviction that politics can be “done in high heels”.
The third candidate is Monica Macovei, a former Justice Minister and long-time anti-corruption campaigner. Macovei, 54, has centered her political message on the demand for radical change following the party’s crushing defeat in last parliamentary election.
The centre-right party won just 18 per cent of the votes in the December 2012 general election, well down on its 33 per cent showing in the elections in 2008.
The ruling Social Liberal Union, USL, won around 56 per cent of the votes in the elections.
The PDL, with which President Traian Basescu has close links, lost most of its support due to its pursuit of unpopular economic measures in its last two years in power, including cuts in public sector pay and an increase in VAT.
In July 2010, the government cut civil servants' wages by 25 per cent, thousands of state jobs were axed and VAT was increased by 5 per cent to 24 per cent.
Some analysts say that the PDL steered Romania out of a crisis, and that the measures taken by the party were correct. But few dispute that they have damaged the party’s image.
Donors spent hundreds of thousands of euro building a new museum in Gjirokastra - but the results were questionable and it ultimately closed over an ideological dispute.