"Cold War": What Is the Reason for the Conflict between Sandu and Nastase

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Andrei Nastase and Maia Sandu are again exchanging mutual barbs and reproaches, thus marking a new round of crisis faced by Moldovan pro-European forces It is well known that the spirit within the alliance of the pro-European parties could never be called strong. The turning point, which finally broke the union of the two pro-European forces, was Maia Sandu’s sole decision to start the conflict with the socialists, and as a result, EU protégées lost their power. Nevertheless, the two constituent pro-European camps continued their cooperation over the course of several months, which in fact was an imitation. It turned to be the ground for mutual discontent showed up in the subsequent events. The open conflict was triggered by Sandu's failure  to implement a single opposition candidate project actively promoted by Andrei Nastase in the autumn presidential election. According to his plan, the pro-European camp was to delegate the "non-party" person to the post of the head of state, thereby cutting off the opportunity for the PAS leader to run. For obvious reasons, she did not support this project, after which Nastase decided to go to the polls independently, challenging his ally. Later, Sandu in a rather mocking manner noted that she would support her ACUM colleague only if he managed to break into the second round. The next bright conflict episode in the ACUM camp was the by-election to parliament in the Hincesti district, where disunity among the right forces led to the unexpected victory of the socialist candidate, who was considered one of the race outsiders. In recent weeks, the “cold war” of opposition leaders has been heated up, with Nastase and his party members making a series of attacks on the PAS leader: he considered her statements about the surveillance of the Constitutional Court judges a political hype, later he called the Cabinet's power “surrender” last October a mistake. Further, the DA platform MP Inga Grigoriu accused Sandu of taking credit for the received Romanian assistance. At first glance, there is no logical reason for confrontation between Sandu and Nastase, since it looks like David’s fight with Goliath. The DA chairman himself probably understands that he has no chance of winning the election: failures as the Interior Minister and losing the mayor’s election almost destroyed his rating. So what's the deal? Admittedly, Andrei Nastase's consent to go to the polls along with Maia Sandu turned out to be political suicide for him. Most likely, this decision was made not without pressure from the European Union, which did everything to create an alternative “true” Western power to spite the then-ruling democrats. Tactically, this enabled the Dignity and Truth platform to have a good representation in parliament, but later on it hit over the party, especially its head. In just a year, from one of the leaders of popular protests and a “true” mayor of the capital, according to the results of the 2018 elections, he turned into a “downed pilot”, and DA ratings fell down. In fact, the entire electorate of the platform was absorbed by colleagues at the ACUM electoral bloc, while Sandu became the number 1 of the pro-European opposition. Trying to even out the situation and move away from Sandu's all-consuming "radiance", Nastase decided to break relations, putting forward a number of unacceptable initiatives for his colleague. Brussels made prompt attempts to reconcile former allies by inviting to negotiations to the European Council ex-chairman Donald Tusk. Judging by recent events, the meeting was unsuccessful, and the right-wingers are still enthusiastically attacking each other. This is not surprising: the EU has practically lost influence in Moldova at this stage, and its representation in the republic is extremely passive, depriving the Union of the ability to moderate the situation manually. Therefore, the tone of domestic political life in Moldova today is set by the United States, which, in all likelihood, is betting on the Democrats in the near future. Based on the ongoing processes, Washington is actively conducting the creation of a new coalition in parliament, relying on the Democratic Party, which is returning the resources and influence lost last year. In addition to the Democrats, the new ruling alliance can gather under its banner a group of Andrian Candu, the Shor party, as well as party-switchers from other factions. The DA platform in this regard is a tidbit that allows Nastase to bargain profitably with the architects of the future regime in Moldova. In this vein, the current attacks on Maia Sandu can be regarded not just as a manifestation of personal antipathy and past grievances. According to experts, constant attacks on the PAS leader may be one of the terms of the deal, which will provide a “warm place” for Andrei Nastase in the future power structure in Moldova. This version is also supported by the recent changes in the Constitutional Court, where the DA platform protégée took the chair. What are the benefits of the hypothetical defeat of the PAS leader in the presidential election? It is only at first glance that Maia Sandu is considered a nominee of the collective west. In fact, Washington is more satisfied with the current president, who has long proved his loyalty by impeccably following the course towards Euro-Atlantic integration, rather than Sandu, focused primarily on Brussels. This is confirmed by the regular contacts of the President and the US Ambassador to RM. In addition, good relations between Igor Dodon and Moscow come as a good bonus due to the concurrent economic dividends from Moscow, which reduce expenses needed to support the ruling regime in Moldova. This is only one version of the reasons for the discord between the former allies in the ACUM electoral bloc, but, in my opinion, is not deprived of logical and semantic reasons. In any case, the conflict between Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase, one day smoldering, another day heating up, will continue, having a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential race in Moldova.