Allies in the ruling coalition seems to have broken up
The coalition is in tatters
November 8 marked five months since the historic event for Moldova – the expulsion of Vlad Plahotniuc. Since then, a complete reboot of the country’s political system has begun, led by the Party of Socialists and the ACUM bloc. At the same time, the existing international consensus has become one of the fundamental pillars of the new ruling coalition in Moldova.
However, many in Moldova initially doubted the viability of the power structure, created actually by ideologically irreconcilable opponents. All the past months, the union of socialists and pro-Europeans was rocked by scandals that were solved with great difficulty. The new crisis about the election of the Prosecutor General seems insurmountable. It has already led to a vote of no confidence in Sandu’s government, which could resign in the coming days.
It should be recalled that at first the main task of the coalition was to clean up the state system from the oligarchic elements of the previous government. That was supposed to be followed by off-year elections in Parliament, but in democratic conditions. This option, in particular, was mentioned by Dmitry Kozak during his visit to Chisinau in June this year.
Instead, the newly-minted allies began the actual division of the Moldovan political ‘pie’. ACUM took over the government, taking possession of the vast majority of Ministerial portfolios. At the same time, the socialists, led by Igor Dodon, have consistently taken over the speaker’s seat in Parliament, reintegration, the Constitutional Court and uniformed agencies: Ministry of Defense, SIS and National Anticorruption Center. And after the local elections and the victory in Chisinau, the PSRM invaded the zone of interests of its partners, claiming several socio-economic ministries. During this period, there were first opinions heard about the ‘reoligarchization’ of Moldova and the threat of a ‘second Plahotniuc’.
In fact, the ACUM leadership has long been signaled that the socialists and their informal leader Igor Dodon are not aimed at liberating the system, but, on the contrary, at the blow-by-blow handover of security and political institutions to them. However, the pro-Europeans were not far behind their colleagues. And having taken earlier the Moldovan Prosecutor General’s office, also didn’t hurry to leave positions and so this office became an ‘apple of discord’.
Apparently, it became very difficult for the current partners to continue to coexist, gritting their teeth, especially when the appetites of the socialists are becoming threatening. Therefore, the long-overdue confrontation between Sandu and Dodon over who exactly is the number 1 political figure in the state has become a reality. Since there is no willingness to compromise, there is every chance that the ruling alliance will finally detonate in the coming days.
What happens next?
It is clear that international partners will again use their influence to stop the crisis. This is already evident in the frequent contacts of the Moldovan leadership with the ambassadors of the United States, the European Union and Russia. Nevertheless, even if the alliance between ACUM and the PSRM can be maintained, it is obvious to all that the point of no return has already been passed and the final break is only a matter of time.
Predicting further developments, take into account the almost inevitable resignation of the Moldovan government: if not this week, then in the very near future. Based on this, the possible scenarios are following:
1) resignation of the Sandu government and new negotiations between parliamentary factions on a renewed coalition between the ACUM and the PSRM without individual leaders and parliamentary groups from the pro-European bloc. In particular, I refer to Andrei Nastase, who had a personal conflict with Igor Dodon and his associates. This scenario seems unlikely;
2) resignation of the Sandu government and the announcement of off-year parliamentary elections, due to the inability to reach a compromise on the new coalition. This option seems reasonable from the perspective of democratic principles. However, the apparent unpreparedness of the parties for the next elections, as well as the unwillingness to risk their political capital, significantly reduces the likelihood of such a scenario;
3) resignation of the government of Maia Sandu, inability to reach a compromise on a new coalition and a confident position in powerful institutions may allow Igor Dodon and the Party of Socialists to create a minority government. The reason for this will be the accusation of the pro-European bloc in provoking ‘unwanted’ off-year elections in a difficult period for Moldova and the willingness to take control of the country, for example, by appointing a technocratic ‘Government of national responsibility’. At the same time, the new Cabinet of Ministers will be elected by a situational vote by the PDM and the Sor Party in accordance with tacit agreements, without any public coalition union. The confidence of the PSRM while passing a vote of no confidence in the government tells that the socialists already have the 51 votes necessary for such a maneuver. Such a scenario has a high chance to take place, especially if international partners decide not to bring the matter to off-year elections.
Whichever of these options is correct, it can be surely said that the country faces another difficult period of political turmoil and uncertainty. It may have the saddest consequences, even the force response to an attempt of the Party of Socialists and Igor Dodon to seize all power in the state. At the same time another thing is more important: will the new political crisis lead to a complete frustration of the country population and the final disintegration of the republic into ethnopolitical provinces, each of which will independently determine its future?
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