Democrats and Socialists Coalition: What Does It Mean for Moldova

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Sergiu CHEBAN In the newly created alliance of socialists and democrats, the main winner is undoubtedly the Democratic Party, which not only returned to power on a large scale, but again reserved a place for itself as a supporting political force for the West. On March 16, Moldova witnessed a long-awaited event - the parliamentary factions of the Party of Socialists and the Democratic Party signed an agreement on the creation of the ruling coalition. As most experts still believe, PSRM and PDM were ready to form a parliamentary majority back in June last year. However, at that stage Moscow intervened in the coherent plans of the current coalition, which through the shuttle diplomacy of the then Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak prevented the natural course of events in the mysterious Moldovan politics. As expected, the Democrats bargained for themselves the maximum possible amount of power in the current conditions, having gained control over strategically significant departments. In fact, the cabinet was divided into two equal parts in order to ensure proportionality and balance of interests of the two political parties. It is characteristic that the coalition agreement does not contain clear “expiration dates” for this political union. Nevertheless, the provision that after the presidential election the Democratic Party will take one of the key public posts - the Prime Minister or the Speaker of the Parliament - suggests that the results of the presidential race will become a new starting point for relations between socialists and democrats. That is, both PDM and PSRM are ready to “play the long game” together. Meanwhile, many are trying to figure out exactly how the positions of the Democratic Party will strengthen and what the choice of specific authorities is connected with. It’s no secret that one of the PDM’s important tasks is to reactualize and position itself as an authoritative pro-Western political force, which is able not only to ensure the interests of Washington and Brussels in Moldova, but also effectively balance the pro-Russian socialists who are unable to build a dialogue with the outside world. So, let’s try to look into the matter. The Ministry of Economics allows the PDM to continue implementation of its infrastructure and socio-economic programs, which were launched during the premiership of Pavel Filip. Moreover, this department provides the necessary control over all the large enterprises of Moldova, which for many years have been a reliable source for replenishing the “party fund” of the Democrats. In addition, in the case of obtaining Russian credit resources, most of these financial resources intended for infrastructure projects will be spent through this ministry. The Ministry of Education, Culture and Research is of particular importance in maintaining the continuity of the long-term course on raising a generation of citizens focused on Romanian identity. In this regard, the PDM should ensure the invariability of historical and language policies, the inviolability of educational programs and standards, as well as the Moldovan identity neutralization, which Igor Dodon actively instills in the population. The Ministry of Defense seems to become an important tool for further promoting the Euro-Atlantic incorporation of the Republic of Moldova and enhancing cooperation both with the North Atlantic Alliance and separately with its members. This will mean further strengthening of bilateral partnerships and specialized programs that contribute to the harmonization of the Moldovan armed forces with NATO army standards. The new deputy prime minister for reintegration, apparently, will have to gradually improve the negotiation process with the left bank and regenerate the pragmatic approaches in dialogue with Tiraspol that were observed during the period in which the Democratic Party was in power. At the same time, most likely, the democrats will position themselves as the main guarantor of preventing negative external interference in the Transdniestrian settlement and the implementation of the Russian scenario for the federalization of Moldova. According to experts, the current domestic political situation and, in particular, disunity among the systemic pro-European opposition, in fact, elevated the Democratic Party of Moldova, although for a tactical medium-term perspective, to the rank of the main political support for the collective west. Despite the background and the personal composition of the political formation, nevertheless, the PDM at the current stage is able to guarantee the interests of the West and ensure the irreversibility of the strategic course of Moldova. In addition, the list of government bodies that are now accountable to the Democrats, as well as agreements on future appointments after the presidential election, suggest that it is the Democratic Party that will play the “first violin” role in the newly formed coalition, thereby ending the short period of the socialists’ sole governance.