Expert: “Referendum on European Integration is Designed to Preserve the Plahotniuc's Regime”

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Referendum on enshrining European integration into the Moldovan Constitution is the grandmaster’s move of the Democrats, believes Sergei Isaenko. “The whole combination was done rather cleverly. The Democratic Party announced the proposal to enshrine the European vector in the basic law just when it was subjected to the most criticism of the “pro-Moldavian course” announced by its leader, Plahotniuc. Then the initiative was steam rolled to the parliament, although it obviously had no chance to have enough votes. The expected failure of the initiative allowed the Democrats not only to make the referendum issue actual, but also to start it on a more conceivable reason. Thus, for both the Moldovan people and international partners, all activities of the democrats look logical and consistent, but the situation for their opponents has changed dramatically”, says the expert. According to Sergei Isaenko, the decision to combine the referendum with the parliamentary elections has sharply raised the stakes: the ordinary electoral process is now turning into an almost fateful event for Moldova, where residents have to vote “for” or “against” Europe. In this reality constructed by the democrats, they again “sell” themselves to the EU as the main defender of Moldova’s European development path and seriously increase their chances of remaining in power. This actually means that Vlad Plahotniuc managed to carry out a red herring and pull the old, greasy, but reliable “geopolitical ace” out of the sleeve. “Democrats are very much aware that in the current situation, they will not be able to win the elections honestly, and they go all-in. The referendum puts on the scales the entire European future of the country and therefore acts as an instrument of blatant blackmail of the European Union. Brussels offers a simple choice: either to provide political support to the PDM and “turn a blind eye” to future violations during the elections, or to give Moldova into the hands of pro-Russian forces”, the expert notes. As Sergei Isaenko believes, the next PDM’sstepwill put political opponents in a difficult situation, from which it is difficult to get out without consequences. He draws attention to the reaction of Igor Dodon, who did not block the initiative of the Democrats and said that “he was not afraid to go for advice to the people”. According to the political analyst, the president should not have so resolutely resigned to an obviously enticing invitation to play with such an experienced rival with his own deck. “Dodon has repeatedly said that the majority of the country’s residents support the development of relations with Russia and the Eurasian Union. He demonstrates self-confidence willing to know the opinion of the people. In addition, the head of state probably expects to receive additional dividends from the protest activity of the PSRM in mid-November. However, the president should also understand that the “non-resistance” to the referendum and the planned protests are playing into the hands of the Democrats. The expert stresses that mass popular speeches with a clear “anti-European” attitude, which the PSRM is going to organize, firstly, additionally will mobilize the pro-European electorate, and secondly, will increase the fear of Brussels to lose Moldova and allow pro-Russian forces come to power. This means that the Europeans will have more reasons in one combination or another, yet support the Democratic Party as the least evil and at the same time save face. “Admittedly, the “referendum”project is a strong and potentially dangerous move that radically changes the meaning of elections for the electorate. Such manipulation is taking up the main question - whether the social and legal lawlessness of the coalition under the leadership of the democrats continues in the country after the elections to the area of abstract dreams and imaginary choice between the West and the East”, the expert believes. In his opinion, the PDM, initially being in a difficult position, could reverse the election “chessboard” in nontrivial steps. “Having scattered chess piece and mixing openings with mittelspiels, Democrats suggest other political forces and even European partners to follow in the wake of their plans and play the new game according to their own rules. The only way out of such a situation is to try as quickly as possible to return to the classic “political chess” or, at worst, to play dominoes”, concluded Sergei Isaenko.