Take Five. How Many Elections Will Be in Moldova in 2019?

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Vladimir Rotar 2019 is the year of the Pig according to Chinese Zodiac, but it can become the Year of the Elections in Moldova. The country will face three electoral campaigns at once: for parliament, local authorities and governor of Gagauzia. However, experts and even the leadership of the country do not exclude that three elections are not the limit, but the electoral cycle itself will exceed any expectations of the Moldovans.

February 24 – “warming up” before the main show

The first serious test for the country’s socio-political system will be the parliamentary elections on February 24. They are considered to be fateful and are likely to bring changes to the country: the ruling Democrats will have at least two strong competitors with good starting positions in the upcoming struggle. They are the pro-presidential Socialist Party and the ACUM bloc, which gathered practically the entire pro-European opposition under their wing. The victory of any of these forces can significantly change the political landscape of the Republic of Moldova in all areas. Another thing is that the chances of a convincing victoria have not yet been observed by any of the participants in the electoral race. Current landscape shows that nobody will be able to create a parliamentary majority alone. The idea of ​​a coalition suggests itself, but for years the accumulated heap of contradictions between the main players renders this scenario unlikely. An attempt to gain power by intrigue and as before to recruit deputies from other camps threatens to have unclear, but sure consequences, including creating risks for the explosive growth of internal instability and its splashing out as a protest activity on the streets of Chisinau and other Moldovan cities. Apparently, the ruling Democratic Party takes this into account and estimates its current chances, and therefore does not bet on the elections on February 24. This conclusion is encouraged by the last steps of the Democratic Party, which lay a mine for the future composition of the legislature. I refer here to a consultative referendum, which is scheduled for the same date as parliamentary elections. The wording of the plebiscite questions virtually excludes the failure of the referendum: indeed, which citizen of the Republic of Moldova would not want to reduce the number of legislators hanging on their necks, and also get a tool of direct influence on them? The results of the referendum give Plahotniuc a powerful weapon and at the same time a “safety bag”. Now, if post-election solitaire fails for PDM (for example, if a coalition is formed without democrats or in case of other force majeure circumstances), they will have a chance to “roll back” the elections to the starting point, hiding behind the will of citizens and by the decision of a pocket Constitutional Court. Simply put, the “fateful” elections on February 24 will be just an aperitif at the Moldovan political feast of 2019.

From early parliamentary elections to early presidential ones

Another vulnerability of the political system of the Republic of Moldova is connected with the presidency: early presidential elections of the Head of State seem almost inevitable, and both Democrats and Dodon provoke them. Not so long ago, Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu spoke confidently about the early presidential elections during his visit to Washington. He even named the date - March 2019. Candu did not explain the reasons why the elections should take place, but the Democrats have repeatedly publicly threatened Dodon. So far, the authorities have limited themselves to short-term removal of the president from office, but in the decisive round of political struggle, the temptation to totally remove Dodon from office is expected to increase. There is intrigue in the position of the Moldovan leader. Previously, he repeatedly hinted at his desire to run for the upcoming parliamentary elections. Despite the statements of the authorities that legally Dodon may not participate in the election race, Dodon considers himself “in his own right” and exudes self-confidence. Having achieved the expected victory, he actually exchanges the presidency for a deputy mandate, which means that there will be early elections of the Head of Moldova. Given the fact that in 2016, Dodon ran away from his competitor Maia Sandu for “a few millimeters”, we can expect that the intensity of the electoral struggle will be as high as the intensity of confrontation in parliamentary elections.

Will Moldova survive elections?

Moldova “floats” in 2019, having on board damaged relations with the European Union, economic problems, political instability, and the likelihood of five elections. The pre-election tangle is made in such a way that it cannot be solved without serious consequences. The main actors of the future elections differ in their ideological and foreign policy views and frankly dislike each other. In addition, the results of the electoral cycle in 2019 will certainly determine not only the issue of distribution of mandates and posts in the power structure of the Republic of Moldova, but in general the issue of the political survival of many politicians. The interests of major international players, who do not even conceal their stakes in the upcoming elections, add fuel to the fire: Washington bets on the ruling Democratic Party and Plahotniuc, Moscow – on Dodon and the socialists, European Union – on the pro-European opposition. Filled with the geopolitical context, the internal political “cabinet” struggle can turn into mass protests and street confrontations, and practice shows that protests, especially long-term ones, easily get out of control of their organizers. Multiple elections over a short period of time are a serious test even for stable and prosperous states. But for Moldova, whose social and political system has been incurably ill for many years, such a stress threatens to become fatal – and cause a “heart attack” of the whole country.