Dodon's 8 Priorities: How Does the President Intend to Retain His Post in 2020

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Vladimir Rotar The President of Moldova actually gave an official start to his election campaign: he outlined the main points of the election program and hinted at the coalition with the Democratic Party After the New Year holidays, the socio-political life in Moldova is finally getting out of hibernation. At the same time, the election campaign flywheel for the presidential elections, expected this year, begins to spin. While the right-wingers having determined their candidates for the head of state post are habitually busy with internal clashes, the current Moldovan leader gave a fairly frank, almost programmatic interview to one of the Moldovan publications. The head of state went through almost all the scandalous and controversial moments of recent times (which is typical, bypassing only the topic with Orizont lyceums). He denied the accusations of being involved into the transfer deal of the Chisinau Airport to a new concessionaire with a dubious reputation, explained the passenger fares increase ("an alternative would be the paralysis of social and economic life in the country") and qualified the rumors about his vacation on Maldives at public expense as dirty-tricks drive. Along the way Igor Dodon habitually “punched” some pro-European camp former partners and urged not to go into early criticism against the Chicu government. However, the most interesting moment of the interview are the 8 main directions for the coming year outlined by the Moldovan leader in the activities of the authorities. Even though Dodon refused again to neatly confirm his intentions to run for a second term, it is easy to guess that the priorities he indicates can be viewed as key points of the future election program. The president himself proposed to put aside geopolitics in the election year and noted that all designated measures were “intended to improve people's lives.” The focus on the social agenda in the current Moldovan environment should be recognized as effective. It is no secret that people got long tired of geopolitics and the slogan of European Union integration or the EAEU no longer captivates them. In its time the Democrats understood it well and before the 2019 parliamentary elections leant on large social and infrastructure projects thereby did not fail. Judging by the interview with Dodon, the socialists are ready to do the same “trick”: not in vain the president called 2020 the year of the country's restoration, and among his eight priorities, five are directly related to the social sphere and economics. Thus, Dodon announced of a vast renewal of the road network, and in general, according to him, Moldova will become a “construction site” in the new year. In addition, it will not do without improvements in the social sphere: increased salaries, pensions and benefits (although it is not yet clear how the government will finance them). The president promised business to reduce administrative pressure, as well as the creation of industrial clusters in all regional centers of the country, for each of which they will look for “strategic investors”. It is interesting that the head of state, as his personal initiative, announced a bill in the coming months, which will reduce the Moldovan citizens burden acquired under the bill on billions. As you know, before the parliamentary elections, both the PSRM and ACUM were going to cancel it but their desires quickly ran into tough opposition from the IMF. Its representatives directly hinted that any changes and especially the repeal of the law would seriously reduce Moldova’s prospects for a new credit line. Therefore, it is not clear whether the initiative of Dodon has been agreed with the Fund or whether it means the upcoming cessation of cooperation with this organization. The points the president set forth so far do not carry any breakthrough elements, rather referring to the election practices of the Democratic Party: the president even intends to repeat the move with the famous PDM bus which traveled through the cities and villages of Moldova and make himself a tour around the country. Moreover, taking into account the Moldovan economic realities and the expected decrease in foreign aid, all these construction projects and social improvements mostly reflect the principle of “after us the deluge”. Maybe in 2020, due to the resources concentration, the authorities will be able to provide a small leap forward, but it will inevitably come back to haunt them next year. Another important point in the interview (perhaps even the most important one from the point of view of the country's political structure in the near future): for the first time, the president allowed the formation of an official coalition with the Democratic Party, although he had previously categorically excluded this possibility. Now, Dodon "from a pragmatic point of view" looks at the cooperation of socialists and democrats, especially since the latter are allegedly undergoing processes of internal transformation and liberation from Plahotniuc influence - which all in one determines an eventual l union of the two forces. Overall, the situation with the PDM and PSRM coalition looks kind of an “Overton window” styled in the Moldovan way, where they try to “sell” the idea that was initially unthinkable for the electorate of these parties as something logical and even inevitable. In principle, one can agree with the president in the sense that such an alliance will indeed be able to ensure the stability of the public administration system in the foreseeable future. But will cooperation with the Democrats help Dodon himself on the eve of the presidential election remains a big question.