RTA regular expert Vladimir Rotar on why the parliamentary coalition under the flag of the Democratic Party is almost inevitable.
Democratic union for European integration
A few days after the elections in Moldova the main issue is the composition of the ruling coalition. Experts paint a lot of possible scenarios which include even union of PSRM and ACUM for the ‘impeachment’ of Plahotniuc. However, the reality seems much more prosaic. The outcome of the vote allows Vlad Plahotniuc to remain in the center of the political life of the country and initiate a large bargaining for a ‘bonus package’ of 10-12 deputies to form a parliamentary majority.
It should be admitted that the sophisticated maneuvers and aggressive marketing of the Democratic Party of the last two years have not gone unnoticed. In total, together with the sham party “Shor” and affiliated independent deputies the Democratic Party received at least 40 seats in Parliament – twice more than in the last election. Political experience suggests that the gravity of this center is enough to attract the missing mandates for the coalition. The only question is whether they will come from the left or the right.
So far, the ACUM bloc and the Party of Socialists firmly deny the possibility of cooperation with Democrats and each other. At the same time, everyone understands that the fundamental refusal to cooperate will lead to early elections that the PDM and pro-Europeans exactly do not want. The latter produced the maximum result in the current conditions and received a convenient position for future negotiations on the coalition. New elections for them is a leap into the unknown and risk of losing the hard-earned, because even a minimal change in turnout can seriously change the hands not in favor of the PDM and ACUM.
Therefore, with external antagonism, Democrats and pro-Europeans have common interests that open the way for them to situational cooperation. Of course, ACUM will not go for a direct alliance with the Democratic Party since it will be regarded as a betrayal by the supporters of the bloc and its international patrons. Also, the PDM will not risk applying the usual methods to entice deputies from the opponents’ camp, fearing to run into retaliatory EU sanctions.
An unspoken backstage deal is more likely: pro-Europeans will ‘lend’ the democrats several missing deputies in exchange for important government positions or the ability to influence key decisions and bills. At the same time, the ACUM will retain its opposition status and ‘pro-European’ respectability, and the PDM will receive a parliamentary majority. And no re-election.
An indirect confirmation of this scenario is the information on the ongoing negotiations between M. Sandu and A. Nastase on the possibility of dividing the deputies elected from the ACUM bloc into two factions formed from the parties Dignity and Truth Platform (DA) and Action and Solidarity (PAS). In this situation, some party part of the bloc may well show interest in the formation of the government.
With the tacit consent of the European Union
The temporary union of ACUM and democrats has a good chance of finding understanding in the West. It is noteworthy that the European Union reacted rather carefully and cautiously to the results of the parliamentary elections. Instead of the traditional bellicose rhetoric towards the Moldovan leadership in recent months, there was only a banal complaint about “some violations” during the voting, while generally recognizing it as corresponding to the “spirit and letter of democracy”.
This confirms that the EU is generally satisfied with the elections. The ruling democrats have managed to refrain from overt lawlessness such as removing direct competitors from elections and outright fraud. There were no mass gross violations that could serve as a basis for invalidation of the results of the election race. And the results of the vote were more or less close to reality. Moreover, the main goal of the EU – to ensure the representation of the pro-European opposition in Parliament – has also been accomplished.
Apparently, the demonstratively good behavior of Plahotniuc, who recently tried to reconcile with the European Union, has resulted in success. Recognition of parliamentary elections means that the EU is ready to tolerate the PDM and its leader for some time. In principle, a more negotiable and dependent Plahotniuc, who will continue the country’s policy for European integration, quite suits the European Union, so that in the near future we can expect a partial rehabilitation in Europe of the ‘unofficial master of Moldova’. Moreover, Brussels has managed to put ‘harness’ of the pro-European opposition on the Democratic Party and its leader. Probably, according to the idea of European officials, it will have a disciplining effect on the Moldovan political system and contribute to its gradual recovery.
In this situation, guided by pragmatic considerations, the EU can secretly bless a small migration of deputies from the ACUM to the democrats’ camp in the framework of a civilized deal to prevent re-elections and revenge of pro-Russian forces.
Socialists can stay out of business
But the socialists who nominally won elections have two most realistic options. According to the first statements by Igor Dodon and Zinaida Greceanîi, they are not ready to go all-in, to bring people to the square and demand new elections. In this case, they can try to reach an agreement, seeking to strengthen their positions somewhat through the model of forming a coalition government of ‘technocrats’ by including their people therein. Otherwise, they will have to remain in the concrete opposition defense.
Both options bring significant costs associated with the risk of political marginalization and the gradual erosion of the socialist faction: there are clear examples of the Voronin’s communists, the liberal democrats of Filat or Ghimpu’s liberals.
However, the socialists are still outside the coalition negotiations. The shadow alliance with ACUM relieves Plahotniuc of the need to negotiate with the toxic (in the eyes of the Western partners) PSRM. In this scenario, the ‘winning party’ can be used as a ‘donor’ for the future coalition of democrats. Unlike ACUM the PSRM could not expect political dividends from such forced donorship. Plahotniuc will entice its representatives in the Parliament by traditional methods of bribery, threats or blackmail, provoking the defections of socialist deputies in the required volume.
The failure on the recent elections could seriously undermine the PSRM strength in the coming years. The lack of prospects for influencing political processes in the country, coupled with the vulnerable and nominal status of the President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon will have a permanent demoralizing effect on members of the socialist faction in Parliament. The PSRM risks to repeat the path of degradation and decay, and to be left behind not only the ‘big bargaining’, but also the Moldovan policy as a whole.
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