The Moldovan pro-European opposition couldn’t resist the temptation and did venture into the political “affair” of Vladimir Plahotniuc and Ilan Shor
The beginning of this week witnessed one of the most spectacular events of the current political year in Chisinau – consideration of no confidence vote in the Moldovan government. Both the signatures of the Maia Sandu party MPs under the no confidence vote and the parliamentary extraordinary session to study this issue came as a surprise: the former – for the ruling majority, the latter – for the opposition. Such a rush is believed to be triggered by the reports about sudden ailment of the two opposition deputies from the SOR faction Igor Himici and Vladimir Vitiuc (suspicion of COVID-19) at the most crucial moment, which allegedly prompted the PSRM and PDM to take advantage of the situation and play a sneaky trick on the opposition with a vote. At the same time, it remains a mystery whether both deputies really got badly ill so as to provide this unique news with extensive media coverage or whether they were simply given a “paid” day off.
The vote discussion was quite emotional and tense. The opposition’s oligarchic segment was particularly notable in this regard, since its deputies initially were aimed at the street-megaphone scenario with elements of mess and fuss, turning everything that happened in parliament into another absurdist theater act. To tell the truth, the “disaster government” officials, as the opposition calls it, surprised by what was happening, together with the prime minister’s ironic remarks, looked more advantageous against the background of the righteous revolt. As a result, the oppositional no-confidence in the government, as expected, lacked several votes, and on this positive note, the parliamentary majority sent the country’s legislative body to a summer recess. A blank shot at the government, apparently, not only failed to weaken its position, but on the contrary made it regain its self-confidence and trust in the ruling majority, which seemed to be losing its self-control and optimism.
If we draw parallels with a similar event in November last year, the vote of no confidence in the Sandu government was characterized by much more thorough preparation, guaranteed availability of the required number of deputies and the pedagogical manner with which they were lecturing the PAS leader for several hours before they finally dismissed her with satisfaction adding “It serves her right!”
It seems that the failed vote caused most harm to the politically correct “sterile” pro-European opposition, in particular the DA platform, which indulged its own and others’ ambitions. Opinion polls will also show how this adventurous political move will affect the party’s ratings. However, according to some experts, this episode became a resounding political “slap in the face” for Andrei Nastase.
Maia Sandu, who is seen as the most promising opposition candidate in the upcoming presidential elections, also incurred significant costs. This political leader, who had previously taken a rational position, declaring that ousting the Chicu government was hardly realistic, suddenly, for some reason, abandoned an advantageous “above the battle” stance and acted at the bidding of her ambitious partners.
Last week saw numerous political conspiracy theories trying to answer the question of who exactly was able to so drastically influence the position of Maia Sandu and force her to sign the deliberately doomed vote of no confidence. In particular, some details of the recent non-public visit of the PAS leader to Bucharest were disclosed by the Romanian press. There, Ms. Sandu received very high attention from the Romanian president, who almost “blessed” her for the presidential post of the Moldovan state. Remarkably that Andrei Năstase also visited the neighboring country several weeks earlier. It seems that he turned to the Bucharest elder brothers for mediation to help find understanding from the PAS leader.
Amid rapidly evolving events and combinations, the PAS National Council delegated Maia Sandu as a presidential candidate on July 18. On the one hand, such a step seems somewhat premature. On the other hand, the decision to launch its election campaign is entirely justified from the political logic viewpoint, since it allows Sandu to distance herself from the toxic parliament and government, following her own strategy.
Coming back to what happened in parliament on Monday, we can conclude that the “trustworthy” pro-European opposition has once again been dragged into a trite political combination played out by the real initiators of the current surge of anti-government protests. Experts have repeatedly warned about the likelihood of such a scenario.
The “untrustworthy” Plahotniuc-Sor alliance, whose political teams are obvious candidates for not entering the future composition of parliament, are going through difficult times, when revitalization and increased rates in the deal-making process with the current government is required to preserve the existing breeding ground for financial fraud schemes needed to extend their political life. Taking advantage of their tactical companions, skillfully playing on their emotions and ambitions, this shadow oligarchic tandem made a lot of noise, demonstrating to Igor Dodon the likelihood of dismissing the Chicu government and willingness to pay a high price for it.
The main goal in this deal-making process with increased rates is by no means to oust the current government, which would self-destructively activate a “timer” of its departure from political life. It is extremely important for the alliance of fugitive oligarchs in bargaining for the comfortable environment for their political “assets” (literally and figuratively) to retain them not only for a couple of months prior to the elections, but most importantly – long after they are over. This “segment”, which until spring 2019 was an integral part of the PDM-PSRM symbiosis, is eager for a new political deal that would at least partially save its resources until better times.
As we can see, the emotionally unstable pro-European opposition is lacking experience and political wisdom to resist such scenarios in these “adult” games. Feeling relaxed in the lasting “embrace” of international development partners and allowing itself to be dragged into the muddy waters of alien games, be it signatures under no-confidence declarations or supporting the protests of combatants, the opposition would unlikely be able to shape its own convincing national political agenda at such a pace.
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