ACUM risks not living up to the planned revenge on the socialists in the next presidential and possible off-year parliamentary elections
The last month was not successful obviously for the pro-European ACUM bloc. There is more and more news about the conflicts between its constituent parties PAS and DA, so far, primarily in the regions. It comes to mutual accusations almost of betrayal.
The pro-European bloc was originally born ‘in agony’: assembling of the right flank forces in one monolithic entity was carried out with great difficulty. In fact, it was possible only due to two factors – the huge influence of the European Union, which wanted to get a ‘true pro-European force’ to spite the failed democrats, as well as the need to confront the oligarchic regime with a united front. The real risk of not getting into Parliament alone also played its role.
Thanks to the EU support, which opened almost all doors for ACUM representatives, the bloc managed to get a fairly solid result in the parliamentary elections. So the expulsion of Plahotniuc from Moldova allowed the pro-Europeans to form their government.
At one time, things were going quite well for ACUM, but the first wake-up call was already during the local elections. Maia Sandu (even despite a joint video address with Chirtoaca) and her party colleagues clearly did not share the aggressive attitude of the DA leader towards the socialists and Ion Ceban. Many experts believed that PAS was not too zealous in supporting Nastase, which predetermined the lacking mobilization of the right-wing voters and, as a consequence, the loss in Chisinau.
The consequences of the election campaign in the capital were not long in coming and the bloc officially split into two factions just at the first meeting of the capital’s municipal council. This happened immediately after the fall of the Sandu government and the collapse of the coalition with the socialists – that is, at a time when the ACUM needed to demonstrate maximum cohesion.
Infighting within the pro-European bloc continued in other regions. The DA district councillors vote for the democratic candidate as the Chairman of the Causeni district, a part of the bloc goes into a coalition with the democrats in the Singerei district council (while the other part goes into opposition with the socialists). There were problems about the appointment of a single candidate as Chairman of the Ialoveni district.
Despite these conflicts, ACUM tries to put a good face, saying that these are only few cases. However, few people believe this – the differences in the camp of pro-Europeans are obvious to everyone. No wonder even Maia Sandu constantly highlights the consolidation and strengthening of the bloc among her priorities.
Many experts are already painting apocalyptic scenarios for ACUM, believing that the bloc is living out the last months. Be that as it may, it is likely that hard times are coming for them. It was hit hard by the situational alliance with ideological opponents from the PSRM, as well as the subsequent withdrawal from government and parliamentary leadership structures. The plan to retreat to the opposition, from where it would be convenient to criticize the ‘social democratic’ coalition, was good only on paper. In the meantime, the conflicts in the pro-European camp are causing much more public outcry than their clumsy attempts to play the role of an effective opposition – like a hastily invented vote of no confidence in the Minister of Defense.
Therefore, although the rapid disintegration of the bloc is not assured, disintegration processes will certainly only increase. As already noted, the process of its construction was extremely complicated and became successful only thanks to the common interests and the influence of the EU. In the new reality formed in mid-November, many representatives of ACUM will certainly try their luck in other places, which is already happening in some regions. After all, Moldovan politicians have never been good at being loyal.
The ‘imbalance’ of the PAS and DA leaders also contributes to the split of the bloc. If they ran the pre-election parliamentary race as more or less equal partners, then later the popularity of Maia Sandu significantly strengthened and kept at a high level, while the positions of Andrei Nastase after the failures as Minister of Internal Affairs and during the capital’s elections were significantly damaged. This may create potential problems in the future in determining a single candidate from the right forces for President (which is now naturally considered Sandu), because the ambitions of Nastase clearly have not gone away.
ACUM had good base value to become a real opposition under the power of socialists and democrats and to keep its opponents up always. But the bloc is increasingly plunged into the abyss of internal conflicts, experiencing a crisis of unity and ideas. Therefore, now the main question is not even whether ACUM will be able to take revenge in the next elections, but whether it will be able to approach them in the same composition.
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