Raduzzles and Shorades: Coordinator’s Show Is Picking Up Steam

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Literally every week brings Moldova closer to the date of parliamentary elections in February 2019, the political situation in the country becomes like that in Alice in Wonderland by L. Carroll: curiouser and curiouser. RTA experts got used to Moldovan oddities, especially since the original volte-faces of local politics make a political analysis of the situation and predictions of its future more interesting and even more exciting. Our permanent author, Dorin Mocanu, has focused on an indicative trend that answers important questions about the present and future of Moldova. The recent statement by Vlad Plahotniuc became a sensation since he declared the Democratic Party “pro-Moldovan”, apparently in an attempt to spoil opponents’ game and at the same time to cement a convenient political ‘center’ for himself, while simultaneously drawing votes from the right and the left. Previously, colleagues analyzed and substantiated one of the dominant trends in the situation: in their opinion, before the real threat of losing power, Vlad Plahotniuc uses all available means in the hope of winning at any cost at the parliamentary elections. Most international and regional experts believe that the upcoming parliamentary elections in Moldova, if the opposition forces win, can become decisive for the withdrawal of Moldova from the total control of the oligarch, symbolizing the decline of the protracted era of the ‘puppeteer’. It is quite logical that on the eve of the decisive political battle Plahotniuc – as a typical medieval ruler – gathers all his forces and resources, descending to deception, blackmail and bribery. ‘Coordinator’ strengthens his position with mercenaries of all kinds and stakes on the most trusted people. Such reliable allies of the coordinator of the ruling coalition have already come out of the shadow and today they are actively playing their roles on the political front lines. In recent months, experts note activity and growth of the popularity of the same-name party of Ilan Shor, a particularly reliable mercenary who in the light of the long-running and unique trial in the case concerning stealing from Moldovan banks has only one good way out. And even then if the Democratic Party wins. The ‘close to convict’ businessman is going through this only possible scenario in full today. Independent sociological polls showed the growing popularity of the Shor party after summer rallies and picketing, distracting the public from the massive anti-government protests arranged by opposition PAS, the DA platform and the PLDM. The Shor’s party, as a loyal armor-bearer of the PDM, is actively used on the front line as a political ram. Shor organizes massive rallies against political parties of Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase in the hope of becoming more visible, gather electoral support and try to get into parliament. On the left flank, the Shor party also draws the voices of the low-income population, pensioners, the disabled and other socially vulnerable people from the PSRM. Each new welfare shop opened by Shor is an additional place of political agitation through ‘a refrigerator and a pocket’. Ilan Shor builds his electoral core, consisting of a category of elderly people, impoverished and disadvantaged, disillusioned with the politics of the ruling regime. Is it any wonder that in recent months Shor has strengthened his position and is trying to expand influence among the electorate in the traditionally ‘red’ south of Moldova – in Gagauzia. The fact that the puppeteer gives a major role to his proven mercenary in the main political battle is also evident by the fact that the court sessions in the Shor’s case are constantly delayed for long periods, recently there was another ‘delay’ for three months. It is noteworthy that the authorities do not even attempt to abstract away or take at least a neutral position in relation to Shor. On September 17 at the Atlantic Council in Washington, Speaker of the Parliament of Moldova Andrian Candu actually openly acted as a public attorney for the ‘toxic’ billionaire. This is how one can regard the words of the Moldovan speaker in response to a comment by the American expert on the poor struggle of the Moldovan authorities against corruption, citing the intense pre-election activities of the previously convicted Ilan Shor instead of his expected stay in prison. If the authorities patronize the scandalous Moldovan businessman in front of international partners at the cost of the remained ‘political makeup’, then he has not the last role in the game started by Plahotniuc. The results of recent polls, testifying to the chances of the Shor party to get into the parliament, confirm that. Who knows, relatively small 6-7% of the votes that the party of the convicted businessman hypothetically can receive may become the golden share, allowing the Democratic Party and its vassals to get the parliamentary majority in 2019? It is also possible that Shor will become a political kamikaze and will intensify confrontation with opposition forces on the right and left flanks. After all, he can get them out of the race by provoking violations of the electoral legislation, disrupting the elections in fundamentally important districts and constituencies. If everything is clear with the forced junior ally of the PDM leader, who does not have much choice, the case of Silvia Radu requires special attention. In recent years, Mrs. Radu – the ex-president of the Gas Natural Fenosa – has thrice appeared on the political horizon of Moldova. She diligently accompanied her every approach to big politics with demonstrating her ‘independent’ status, which eventually played a cruel joke with her. It seems that on the third time Silvia Radu committed her public political suicide, putting an end to attempts to create an image of an independent technocrat-manager. Half a year has passed since the scandalous story with the invalidation of the election of the Chisinau mayor, as Vladimir Plahotniuc again actually ‘by the hand’ dragged this reliable and trusted person into politics, announcing her appointment as Minister of Health, Labor and Social Protection. On the same day, Radu publicly accepted the proposal, mechanically continuing unconvincing rhetoric about herself as a politically ‘independent’ minister. It is obvious that the introduction of a figure, which is well recognized by the population, to the pre-election chessboard pursues far-reaching goals. Most likely, Silvia Radu as minister will shortly take a number of high-profile populist decisions with an eye on active participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections. To summarize: decisions that followed the cancellation of the election results of the mayor of the capital show that Vlad Plahotniuc goes all-in, having taken off his numerous political masks and threateningly demonstrating who is the real master in the Moldovan house. The coordinator is trying to be as convincing as possible, showing how the misunderstanding of this simple fact can turn out for foreign partners of the Republic of Moldova – no mater Western or Eastern – that, naturally, inevitably affects the political forces supported by international players in Moldova. Taking an unexpected decision to postpone the election date, announcing the change of the political signboard of the PDM, the puppeteer wins the best options, tries to create and immediately change the playing field, trying to be one and a half steps ahead of the competitors, knocking them off the rhythm and depriving them of room for maneuver. Such undisguised political exploitation of reliable proven figures in the person of Shor and Radu confirms that the coordinator of the ruling coalition understands the significance of the upcoming elections and sends all reserves into battle. At the same time, it becomes clear that the set of non-standard solutions and the ‘sub bench’ of the main Moldovan oligarch is not unlimited. Therefore, even in spite of all sorts of violations and tricks, the fatal outcome for the puppeteer era is highly probable. It is possible that soon, having assessed the prospects and realizing the hopelessness of the situation, Plahotniuc will resort to the last trump card. So to speak, will release the... ‘kraken’ itself. Who or what will it be? Analysts of RTA have assumptions. Soon we will talk about them.