Pandemic as a Pretext to Seize Grip on Moldova

Home / Analytics / Pandemic as a Pretext to Seize Grip on Moldova
Sergiu CEBAN In recent weeks, Democrats have actively criticized, if not  sabotaged, the activities of the current Moldovan authorities. Why? Active efforts to contain coronavirus are adjusting political life of Moldova, which is becoming less and less predictable in the face of an increasing number of risks and challenges. Let's look into a quite recent indicative story that has provoked much criticism of the ruling coalition and speculations about the true background of the events. Its result was the Constitutional Court's decision suspending the law adopted by the government within its own responsibility. The document provided for the supportive measures during the struggle against Covid-19, tax payment deferrals, reduction of certain taxes and customs duties, simplification of the procedure for registering unemployed people and increasing social assistance to vulnerable strata of the population. Noteworthy that the adoption of the law was preceded by several rather strange and even ridiculous situations. On April 1, deputies from the coalition majority simply did not attend the parliamentary meeting, where Prime Minister Ion Chicu planned to take responsibility for the law with a set of anti-crisis measures. Along with this, as it turned out, through the aforementioned humanitarian initiative, the administration tried to rush controversial clauses about supporting duty-free stores, mining and tobacco production. Apparently, not only the population needed help, but also very specific financial and industrial groups that are directly related to the ruling circles. Such an indiscreet step by the democrats and socialists forced the opposition to appeal to the Constitutional Court and protest, to put it mildly, the controversial anti-crisis measures. Most likely, obligations to the coalition partners who were waiting for the law to be passed forced Igor Dodon to personally intervene in the situation - somewhat carelessly, though. Thus, during one of his statements, the president announced that he had called the chairman of the Constitutional Court and he was interested in the fate of the opposition’s request. As a result, it was not possible to resolve the issue manually, and the chairman of the Constitutional Court was forced to recuse himself during an open court session to remove any suspicions of bias by the incumbent president. The above situation gave experts a good reason to reflect on a somewhat strange disorganization and lack of discipline within the ruling alliance ranks. Especially in its “democratic part”, where everything rests solely on the financial satisfaction of specific groups. Many noted the PDM's barely accidental criticism against the general background - in particular, statements by ex-minister of health Ruxanda Glavan, as well as political formation leaders Pavel Filip and Dmitry Dyakov about the systemic failures made by the Moldovan government. This may indicate both the democrats' unwillingness to bear the obvious costs of the current cabinet's management and the way to “probe” the socialists for further transformations in the government. Taken together, the events of recent weeks show that it's not that easy for Igor Dodon to maintain control over the situation in the state. Unexpected problems in taking anti-crisis measures, poor legislative initiatives that provoke criticism of the head of state, regular scandals, a threatening increase in the number of infected doctors, difficulties in the negotiation process — all this indicates deliberate boycotts at certain administrative levels and by specific officials. What can it be indicative of? As a result of alliance with the PDM, not only has the latter rapidly restored its influence, but also various latent groups and individual officials, who for many years were loyal exclusively to the Democratic Party, have activated. Sabotaging Dodon’s actions, who seems to take control of both the coronavirus situation and all key areas of public policy, can only be explained by the aim to create situations in which the president will be forced to further incorporate the democrats into the government system. This is exactly why Democrats even more clearly state that Igor Dodon promised them one of the key government posts after the elections, although logically, there are six months before the election race, and it would be more advisable to concentrate on pressing issues. However, it seems that the Democrats took a course to strengthen their political positions and through the mouth of Dumitru Diakov have repeatedly signaled to the Moldovan president that they are ready to realize his desire to take a second term via election in parliament. The president’s circle and Igor Dodon himself are, apparently, at the stage of making a number of difficult decisions, in which the price of a compromise may be too high, and the result may not be obvious. As you know, democrats traditionally have a good resource at the local level. However, today, taking advantage of the pandemic emergency, they are strengthening their position within the system step by step. It is clear that any government in such conditions is not immune from mistakes, and the state of affairs in many states is a sad confirmation of this. Moldova is still in a political fever, the measures taken by the government are perceived by the population ambiguously. The president is a bright leader, therefore, any failures of power today are by definition associated with Dodon's name. And their number, as we see, is only growing. And not least of all, this is due to the fact that, relying on many years of experience of undivided power and proven tactics, the PDM, without leapfrogs, almost latently, but very purposefully carries out the political diffusion of the ruling alliance. The first goal - to sell yourself expensively as an indispensable political component - was recently successfully achieved. Now, apparently, it is time for democrats to turn into a support base for the future configuration of the Moldovan government. Therefore, in the near future we will witness interesting statements, leaks, demarches and the rest of the “beauty” that traditionally accompanies the process of redistributing political resources between coalition partners.