Opinion: Vlad Plahotniuc Finds It Harder to Defend the Power

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The main threat of the Democratic Party is ... democracy Modern Moldovan politics is more and more clearly reminiscent of uncontrollable madness. There is a saying that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. In this context, it is very difficult to find a reasonable meaning of another removal of the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, from power to approve the candidatures of Moldovan ministers. It is clear that such a development was expected. Declared by Vladimir Plahotniuc “pro-Moldovan minor repairs” of the Democratic Party, assuming the replacement of several ministers, automatically hinted at a future incident when they were approved. So it happened: the nomination of the toxic candidate Silvia Radu did not leave Igor Dodon with the opportunity to save his face. The president could not approve the politician who failed the elections of the Chisinau’s mayor, as such a decision would be negatively perceived by the population, and especially by the supporters of the Socialist Party. On the other hand, every removal from power that Igor Dodon takes stoically is a major blow to his image and the electoral prospects of the PSRM. By organizing periodic attacks on Igor Dodon, Vladimir Plahotniuc seeks to lower the rating of his latent competitor. In general, the entire story of the coordinator’s electoral efforts is not a struggle to increase the popularity of the Democratic Party, but an attempt to go in the opposite direction, discrediting his political opponents. Quick and dirty written narrative about financing of a non-parliamentary pro-European opposition by a representative of the third sector expelled from Poland only confirms the inability of the PDM to propose a positive agenda for reforms. Nevertheless, in general, the main problem of Vladimir Plahotniuc is not the competition with Igor Dodon and the PSRM. By and large, possessing available administrative and financial resources of the PDM, no political force can seriously threaten it. The Socialist Party and the President himself have repeatedly demonstrated their readiness for pragmatic cooperation on key issues. For the last year, there has been an unprecedented mutual rapprochement of the ‘ideological’ (if I may say so) platforms of both parties on the topics of foreign policy orientation and attitude towards the European Union, security and the presence of Russian troops in Transdniestria, as well as on the Transdniestrian settlement as a whole. In addition, the PSRM itself limited the electoral prospects for parties of the left flank or conditionally pro-Russian forces. On the one hand, the mixed voting system adopted thanks to the socialists allows to take half of the seats in the Moldovan Parliament to deputies for single-seat constituencies, including various ‘independent candidates’ who, before or after the elections, will easily become dependent on influential PDM. On the other hand, the ‘cleansing’ of the Party of Communists and Our Party of Renato Usatii made the presence of the Dodon’s PSRM on the left flank a monopoly. The voter’s personal antipathy toward the Socialist Party is now tantamount to a loss of vote by all the pro-Russian forces in Moldova. In the end, the electoral (and coalition) resource of Igor Dodon and his party is becoming extremely limited, and winning a majority in the Parliament is unlikely. Unionist parties are disunited: the Liberal Party of Moldova is going through its worst times in the 21st century, its young generation are not particularly known to seriously count on the significant support of voters. In addition, unification with Romania remains unacceptable for the bulk of the Moldovan population. The pro-European opposition has gone a long way in eliminating mutual contradictions, organizing protest movements, building an ideology based on public consensus. However, the institutional structure of both parties is extremely weak, representation in the regions (in the notorious single-mandate constituencies) is lacking. In fact, DA and PAS are the parties of the city of Chisinau or the Great National Assembly square. Their resource is not enough to get serious support from voters across the country. The main problem of the Democratic Party is not competition – Vlad Plahotniuc can get the power by any methods. His main trouble is the institution of international election observation and the exit polls. In the end, the problem is the very phenomenon of elections, from which he constantly has to defend the seized power. No matter how weak, disunited, de-ideologized and discredited the opponents are, the PDM cannot win elections with such anti-rating in the framework of any more or less democratic process. Widespread disinformation and violations, like a repeated refusal to recognize the results of the vote, although they remain available tools for Plahotniuc, are extremely risky because of close monitoring of the upcoming elections by international partners. It is obvious in this connection that in February 2019 the story of the struggle for political power in Moldova will not end, but will only restart with new vigour, with all the attributes inherent in Moldovan politics – buying of MPs, the war of compromising materials, the intimidation of citizens, street protests, geopolitical propaganda and absolute disregard of the interests of people. The Moldovan political ship with the PDM on the captain’s bridge has got dozens of holes in recent years and with such a pace will very soon go down. The main question is whether the country under the name ‘Moldova’ will be able to survive in this shipwreck, or it will sink together with its capturers.