Compendium look at political year 2021: exaggerated hopes and expectations, galloping disillusion



These contradictory tendencies of the political year 2021 make a precise reverence for its place in the political history of the Republic of Moldova impossible. Only the future with the undoubted result of the reform will enable us to ascertain with exactness the real valences of the political processes of this year, with all its hopes and letdowns...


Anatol Țăranu

The year the yellow hope on the firmament of the Moldovan state with post-oligarchic aspirations appeared is coming to an end. What happened to this hope? How did the new rulers fulfill the promises based on which the voters in the Republic of Moldova entrusted power to them? How does the political opposition manifest itself under a government of the right? Below we will depict a rather summary picture of what was good and bad in Moldovan politics the passing year.

Valuable political victory for Maia Sandu’s team

In a year of the victory of Maia Sandu in the presidential elections and in almost half a year of the coming to power of the pro-presidential ruling party, the Moldovan political landscape provides a complex image, with distinct lights and shadows, their outlines depending on the political will expressed by the new leaders of the state and by the leaders of the opposition, including by the political consistency and competence that they all showed this year. The political year 2021 started amid a bitter struggle for causing snap parliamentary elections. Maia Sandu’s convincing victory in the presidential elections, scored also due to the solidary support of all the pro-European forces in the presidential runoff, showed the necessity of using this victory’s inertia for completing the vertical of power by the pro-European forces. However, at that moment, the main political players on the Moldovan political stage, except for PAS, weren’t ready for snap parliamentary elections and didn’t want these to be triggered swiftly. Maia Sandu and PAS showed vision and great political tenacity for inducing these when the Party of Socialists and Șor Party were in power and would have normally kept power until 2023. An important role here was played by the Constitutional Court and also by Maia Sandu’s political game concerning the talks on the post of Premier with the Socialists led by Igor Dodon.

The triggering of snap parliamentary elections was a valuable political victory for Maia Sandu’s team. The population highly appreciated the newly elected President’s efforts to take the country out of isolation and of corruption by restoring and intensifying cooperation with the main international partners and obtaining their assistance in fighting the pandemic and for economic recovery. Unprecedented economic support on the part of the European Union was obtained, which materialized into the €600 million Economic Recovery Plan for a three-year period. After the victory won in the presidential elections, President Maia Sandu’s public narrative focused more on the desideratum to rid the state institutions of corruption. On July 11, in the snap parliamentary elections, the voters highly appreciated this effort and gave a majority vote to the pro-presidential party PAS. For the first time in the political history of the Republic of Moldova, a monochromatic parliamentary majority with an assumed pro-European government was formed.

Objective and subjective factors of trust diminution

However, after the vertical of the Sandu-PAS reforming power was constituted, the external economic occurrence suddenly started to worsen, degenerating into an unprecedented economic crisis. Concomitantly, the pandemic crisis worsened, reaching the crest of the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases. The exorbitant surge in natural gas prices operated by Russia’s Gazprom – the monopolist supplier on the Moldovan methane market - led to a chain rise in prices and to the worsening of the social conditions of large sections of population. The worsening of the objective factors was supplemented with subjective deficiencies. From the very beginning, it became clear that PAS in the staff policy banks primarily on the principle of loyalty shown to the party, often to the detriment of managerial experience and institutional memory.

There was neglected the necessity of constituting a broad front of the Europeanist forces in support of the reform, which could have been created the easiest by accepting representatives from outside PAS in political and managerial posts. The political autarchy pursued by PAS, combined with an evident shortage of public communication, developed into a real problem of efficiency of the government and its public image. Against such a background, the opposition excelled in highlighting the shortcomings of the justice sector reform and administration, with their regrettable effects on the fight against grand corruption, and the chronic and notorious lack of results and efficiency in the attempts to punish those involved in grand corruption. As a result, the last sociological surveys that were made public in Chisinau started to show a worrisome decline in the electoral rating of PAS, which became equal with the score of the Bloc of Communists and Socialists that crushingly lost the snap parliaments elections, in only five months of the elections. This is a mandatory occasion for rethinking and readjusting the government and public communication tactics given the often dramatic change of the political and economic situation that enormously favors the increasing wave of disappointment in the government among the pro-European voters.

Dramatic situation within political opposition of the right

The situation within the political opposition of the right at the end of 2021 is even more dramatic. This segment is populated by the voters with pro-Romanian views who are often called unionists and who are represented politically by a series of parties with a minuscule electoral rating. It is noteworthy that most of these electors in the last parliamentary elections voted for PAS whose political program does not contain anti-Romania hints, but also does not include unionist pretensions. Such an ideological platform, distanced by the militating pro-Romanianism, guaranteed for PAS the adhesion of a part of the center left voters, securing this way its overwhelming victory against the anti-European forces in the snap parliamentary elections. However, increasingly virulent criticism of the government develops on the segment of the opposition with pro-European views rightwards PAS, whose leaders are not engaged in government somehow.

Here, we can note the Party “Dignity and Truth Platform”, which not long ago was PAS’ ally, but was left outside Parliament. Now PPDA tries to attract back its voters by criticizing PAS for political inconsistency and non-professionalism in the fight against corruption and the promotion of the European course. For now, polls do not show solid restoration of the electoral sympathies for PPDA. The acerbic criticism of the government contributes rather to the expansion of the wave of disappointment in the pro-European forces in general.

Pro-Romanian voters without parliamentary representation owing to...

On the unionist segment, the state of confusion caused by the lamentable electoral failure of the unionist parties in the last elections continues to persist. The pronounced leadership crisis on this segment and the defiant ignoring by the leaders of these parties of the generalized wish of the unionist voters for one electoral list led to a shameful electoral fiasco and left one third of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova with pro-Romanian views announced by polls without direct political representation in Parliament. This factor amplifies the alarmist predispositions and disappointment inside the Europeanist camp. The unionists continue to be waiting for a leader and a united political force that can ensure a political performance that would correspond to the massive numerical dimension of this distinct electrical segment of Moldovan society.

Mimicked searches and new appearances on the left

The political opposition of the anti-European left is feverishly looking to take electoral revenge. The components of the Bloc of Communists and Socialists already held their party congresses where they were to find solutions to restore their ranks after the nasty electoral failure in the presidential elections and the snap parliamentary elections. It seems that they followed yet the path of the postponed solution. The Communists again banked on their old leader Vladimir Voronin, who is incompatible with the idea of party reinvigoration and is able only extend the political antagonism of the Communists. The Socialists also were unable to interrupt the trailing inertia of domination in the party by its demolished leader Igor Dodon - a political personage who became extremely vulnerable as public image and who faces the risk of being tried for corruption. The Socialists’ attempt to mimic the change in the party by abrogating the post of formal leader of the party and by introducing collective party management didn’t convince many. In the public’s opinion, Igor Dodon continues to remain the de-facto leader of the party.

Against such a background of mimicking of the change on the Moldovan left, a ray of hope for the anti-European left in 2021 was irradiated by the figure of the mayor of Chisinau Ion Ceban, who is constantly at the top of the electoral preferences, not only of the residents of Chisinau, but also of Moldovan society in general and who can distance himself on time from the scandalous manifestations with extremist undertones of his former party mates. By all probability, in the future the hope for the electoral reinvigoration of the Moldovan left will be tied to the name and political performance of the current mayor general of Chisinau Ion Ceban, to his capacity to assume the role of national leader.

Șor Party, admonition for current government

Șor Party is one more player that asserted itself actively on the Moldovan political arena the passing year. This party is real admonition for the current government for its precarious capacity to effectively manage a phenomenon of grand corruption at the level of public politics. Șor Party turned into a real nightmare for the pro-European government, pointing to the lack of concept and applicative view in the fight against corruption in the PAS’ version. The anticorruption message in the government’s interpretation seems to be buffoonery against the electoral successes of the members of this party, fueling this way the increasing feelings of disappointment in the governmental policies in the pro-European camp.

This way, 2021 leaves loaded with Moldovans’ hope for an edifying reform that would interrupt the multiannual tendency of degradation of the state Republic of Moldova and would lead to the improvement of the quality of life. Simultaneously yet, the Moldovan political act started to generate more disappointment in the results of the reform, especially towards the end of the year. These contradictory tendencies of the political year 2021 make a precise reverence for its place in the political history of the Republic of Moldova impossible. Only the future with the undoubted result of the reform will enable us to ascertain with exactness the real valences of the political processes of this year, with all its hopes and letdowns.

Anatol Țăranu
doctor of history, political commentator

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.

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