Most candidates intend to act in their personal interests, using the presidential campaign to promote their own political projects with an eye to early parliamentary elections.
Since the beginning of September, Moldova is gradually returning to its usual working rhythm with a rather difficult internal situation generated by the intensified COVID-19 epidemic and tough internal political confrontation. The main catalyst for the latter is of course, the fall presidential elections.
The upcoming electoral race promises to be very entertaining since during the two days of the Moldovan CEC’s work nine people have already expressed their desire for running. The race is to undoubtedly be accompanied by one of the dirtiest election campaigns. This can be easily judged by the fact that two months before the elections, the media space was actively filled with “compromising evidence” and elements of black PR. By the end of the race, the Moldovan voter will most likely have to choose not the best candidate for the position of the country’s leader but the evil of the lesser kind.
On the right political flank, there are no prerequisites for joining efforts and consolidating resources to form a united opposition front. Although, back in the first half of the year, various initiatives were voiced among the pro-European forces which assumed the nomination of a single candidate for the presidency and along with, some kind of instructional documents that exclude mutual attacks and accusations were formulated.
For the most part, right-wing candidates, one way or another, are aimed at personal positioning with an eye to launching their own political projects in conditions of a nonzero probability of early parliamentary elections.
At the current stage, it seems that only Maia Sandu can be a real competitor to the incumbent president. There are also a number of candidates capable of causing “electoral harm”: Renato Usatii, Vladimir Voronin and Alexandru Calinin. At the same time, the main problem of the head of state is that, unlike Sandu, who can quite count on the support of almost all pro-European counter-candidates in the second round, he will have almost nowhere to draw electoral resources from at the second stage of voting. Both Usatii and Voronin would rather call on their supporters to boycott than vote for the socialists’ leader.
To neutralize the most serious electoral risks, the team of the Moldovan president will probably use any already proven methods of solving such problems. It makes sense to remember that in 2014, Our Party under the Usatii leadership was demonstratively removed from the election race on the eve of voting. Therefore, taking into account the same complicated relations with Russian law enforcement officers, the Mayor of Balti can expect another “surprises” up to being denied to register as a candidate for the presidency. As for Vladimir Voronin, according to some experts, he was politically “activated” by Ilan Shor, who uses every opportunity to strengthen his negotiating positions in the dialogue with Igor Dodon and his entourage on the issue of protecting the interests of his business in Moldova. In this regard, it should not be ruled out that, under certain circumstances, ex-President Voronin will eventually refuse running in the upcoming election campaign.
Meanwhile, relying on Belarusian experience, it seems the electoral headquarters and the head of state personally are perplexed by a possible opposition and certain external partners’ non-recognition of the election results whose opinion is of leading importance for the country’s development. In this regard, active work has been launched with international structures, in particular with the OSCE, which, judging by the results of the recent meeting of Igor Dodon with the head of the Moldovan office of the OSCE Mission, should act as an authoritative international source of voting results legitimization.
In the meantime, the ruling coalition is also preparing for a new political season, especially during the pre-election period. According to media reports, on September 1, the parliamentary majority held a meeting with the President and the Prime Minister. At the same time, on the eve of the event the socialists, apparently decided to adjust their pre-election strategy and began to actively pedal the question of the need to organize early parliamentary elections after the presidential campaign. According to experts, today the only practically feasible option that could provoke the dissolution of the current parliament this fall is Ion Chicu government’s resignation and the subsequent impossibility for the opposition to elect a new cabinet.
It remains a big question how justified it will be to now sacrifice the government and actually admit that opposition’s criticism of the Chicu cabinet was justified. However, the president’s entourage is most likely busy with higher priority tasks and “Plan B” implementation if losing the race. An early election campaign for parliament should open up alternative political prospects for Igor Dodon, who will undoubtedly lead the Socialist Party in the elections and secure himself more or less strong positions, including personal security at the head of the largest faction.
At the same time, a tactical maneuver associated with the government resignation could turn into a serious discord in the ranks of the coalition and untie the hands of various groups of people’s representatives in search of an alternative political perspective. In addition, the head of state understands that the current parliament is in no hurry to lose its mandate. Therefore, this whole story of provoking early elections can be viewed as political blackmail with a clear signal that if re-election or maintaining the current disposition, the likelihood of early parliamentary elections could sharply decrease.
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