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The denouement of the political crisis in Chisinau was delayed again after the Democrats managed to impose their new candidate for premiership – acting Minister of Information and Communication Technology Pavel Filip. His affiliation with the Democratic Party and, respectively, with oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc casts doubt on his political integrity, making him automatically unsuitable in the eyes of the people, who vehemently opposed the candidacy of Plahotniuc. This fact additionally fuels the protest spirit in society, where the early elections are regarded as the only solution for freeing the state institutions from the captivity of the oligarchic political system.
The idea of early elections is supported by the political parties with pro-European aspirations from the opposition. The European politicians associate the early election with political, economic and geopolitical risks. That’s why a number of voices in Brussels urge to avoid them. This divergence in the opinion about the early elections shows that the pro-European players in the country and the European politicians differently perceive the Moldovan reality.
Pro-Europeans in Chisinau demand early elections
The mass protests (of January 16) staged as a result of the Democratic Party’s attempts to politically subdue the Government by voting in a Prime Minister that suits them revived the discussions about the imperative of early elections. Of the new parties with pro-European aspirations that didn’t discredit themselves in the relations with the EU, the Party “Platform Dignity and Truth” promotes the most the necessity of early elections. The idea of early elections is also not rejected by the European People’s Party (EPP) of Moldova led by Iurie Leanca, who is partially trusted by the European players. This idea is not yet fully supported by the party that is now formed by Maia Sandu – the Party “Action and Solidarity” – which is for now the most credible pro-European political project in Moldova in Europeans’ eyes.
For the new pro-Europeans from Chisinau (in particular the Party “Platform Dignity and Truth” and the EPP of Moldova), the early elections create evident political opportunities. Recent polls show the two parties have real chances of entering the future legislative body. These want to make use of the protest spirit and the discredited image of the ruling pro-UE parties. Beyond purely egoist political reasons, at least the Party “Platform Dignity and Truth” believes that the early elections will lead to the destruction of the oligarchic political system. This objective is a major one in its pro-early elections demands. According to this party, if this objective is not achieved, the European agenda can also not be implemented. But the strict focusing on the necessity of removing the oligarchic system distracts attention from the fact that the early elections will propel both pro-European and pro-Russian forces (“Our Party”, the Party of Socialists) into Parliament. These aspects show that the new pro-European Moldovans (in particular the Party “Platform Dignity and Truth” and the EPP of Moldova) have mainly short-term political goals aimed at coming to power or/and at removing the political rivals, the medium- and long-term objectives being omitted.
Brussels considers new elections can generate new problems
The European political players consider the early elections will deepen the existing problems. These condemn the state of captivity of the state institutions that are controlled by the oligarchic political system of Plahotniuc, but suggest that the new elections will bring a series of political, economic and geopolitical complications. Among the political concerns is the fact that the new pro-European parties will not manage to prepare to get a good score in elections. This opinion was stated by Romanian MEP Monica Macovei, who said that “the clean parties will not have sufficient time to organize themselves”. According to Macovei and to the MEP of the European People’s Party Siegfried Muresan, the early elections will perpetuate the political crisis, affecting thus the economic situation in the country. Furthermore, Muresan understands that the early elections will remove the PLDM (which is a member of the European People’s Party) from the Moldovan political arena. At economic level, the early elections will delay the negotiations with the IMF and, consequently, the unfreezing of the direct budget support from the EU. Things can worsen if the equation of political power is taken under control by the pro-Russian forces, given their anti-EU views and promises to review, or even annul, the commitments to the EU. Therefore, for the European politicians, the early elections cause new problems rather that solve the existing ones. These suggest that something else will produce native effects on the country rather than the voting in of a new upright Prime Minister and of a functional Government. Analyzing the position of the European politicians, we ascertain that they give priority to broad political interests - maintaining of political and economic stability in the country – but also to narrower objectives – saving of particular Moldovan political players from early elections. But the European politicians also seriously assess the risk of the country’s geopolitical course being changed.
Instead of conclusion…
The risks posed by the early elections are evidently overlooked by the new pro-Europeans in Chisinau, in particular the Party “Platform Dignity and Truth”, which aim to remove the oligarchic political system. There is a conviction in Moldovan society that things cannot be worse than now and that the freeing of the state from captivity is a zero priority. But the conviction that the early elections will favor the new pro-European forces probably persists. But the fact that one party (“Platform Dignity and Truth”) is unable to replace three discredited pro-European parties (PDM, PL, and LDM) is ignored. It is also ignored the fact that the party created by Maia Sandu is far from being registered. Moreover, the high popular approval ratings of the parties of Renato Usatyi and Igor Dodon are also neglected. These risks should be seriously examined by the promoters of the early elections, as the Europeans suggest. But the avoidance of early elections should also not generate illusions in Brussels as the appointment of a Prime Minister controlled by Plahotniuc is not a sustainable solution advantageous to the Moldovan democracy and reform agenda.
Ultimately, with or without early elections, Moldova is facing challenges. That’s why the new pro-Europeans in Chisinau must join together and focus on the exertion of pressure so that the other political players (President, Parliament, the Constitutional Court) obey the law and must prepare for possible early legislative elections, but should not force such elections. The role of the European players is to further contribute to the strengthening of the new pro-European forces in Chisinau (public diplomacy, diplomatic contacts, etc.) and of the capacities and visibility of civil society, with emphasis on investigativee journalism, assessment of sector public policies and promotion of civic activism among the people.
Dionis Cenușa is a politologist, holding an MA degree in interdisciplinary European studies from the College of Europe.
Areas of interes: European integration, European policies, EU's foreign policy, migration and energy security.
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IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.