Despite a rather sluggish presidential campaign, the post-election political arrangement of Moldova seems to be vigorously negotiated behind the scenes
The presidential campaign in Moldova is slowly approaching its equator, still lacking the much anticipated political heat. The main contenders have predictably chosen to reach out to the people, abandoning televised debates as the most outstanding feature of modern democratic elections. Apparently, Dodon and Sandu decided at first to concentrate on promoting their own electoral programs to the masses, rarely paying attention to their opponents.
The only episode that interrupted a routine course of events last week was kidnapping performed by the Tiraspol security officials, which caused an extremely strong reaction from the Moldovan political forces. The journalistic community even began to joke that Interior Minister Pavel Voicu was forced to fall ill with COVID-19 for the second time to avoid a no-confidence vote put forward against him by the opposition following the incident. Certainly, this event became part of the electoral processes, given Igor Dodon’s personal involvement in its denouement which, by the way, triggered his ill-wishers’ declarations that the action was orchestrated.
Regularly published opinion polls, as experts say, are far from real sociology and generally come as a component of electoral technologies. However, for all their relativity, they allow for the main conclusion: the winner of the current presidential race will be determined only in the second round. The incumbent head of state is hardly okay with it. Nevertheless, this is a reality which the main candidates’ campaign teams have to take into account when building their electoral strategy.
Unlike the rivals, Igor Dodon’s electoral tactical line is directly interdependent with internal political processes, a stable power configuration formation and the parliamentary majority stability. In this regard, the main characters and parties seem to have plunged into a state of uncertainty. Apparently, they are waiting for at least some interim clarity in order to understand in which direction it is better to move to ensure the post-electoral advantage.
It is difficult to say what exactly is being currently discussed in the depths of the ruling coalition. Perhaps, the intensifying contradictions between the political allies represented by the PSRM and the PDM are deliberately demonstrated to the Moldovan audience and the opposition. However, the fact remains: the socialist and democrat leaders’ public communication at this point clearly indicates that rates are increasing and that further functionality of the existing inter-factional alliance is challenged.
Igor Dodon’s latest weekly conversation with voters was notable for his announcement that he is not going to change the current head of government after the elections. At the same time, personnel reshuffles in some ministries, in his view, are desirable. Considering that the president would not surrender the speaker of parliament either, the Democratic Party’s leadership was openly presented with fait accompli: the socialists plan neither to fulfill their coalition obligations, nor to enhance in any way political positions of the Democratic Party, which has squandered its deputies putting the parliamentary majority in jeopardy.
Moreover, the socialists’ proposal to replace individual ministers previously nominated under the Democratic quota is in fact an “invitation to the table” for other political forces ready to participate in tactical voting and managing certain areas in the renewed government. This immediately brings to mind the recent decision to terminate the criminal prosecution of some representatives of the Sor party, which, in turn, obviously suppressed the shower of criticism against the socialists and Igor Dodon.
It seems that the political entourage of the head of state is elaborating various options to retain his leadership positions. The main task is to enable a guaranteed political influence inside the country. In this scenario, Igor Dodon can be assigned a role of “the national leader”, a kind of a moral authority who in relations with other political forces will try to be over the struggle. To achieve that, Igor Dodon has absolutely no need to hold formal governmental positions. Spearheading the major party in the country and the largest parliamentary faction, Mr. Dodon already enjoys a powerful resource for implementing various post-election scenarios.
The PDM leaders, in turn, also began to adjust their behavior patterns and public rhetoric, positioning themselves as a centrist force disposed to cooperate with various political parties. According to Dumitru Diacov, the democrats are ready for dialogue with almost the entire spectrum of factions represented in parliament, but give priority to the members of the former ACUM bloc. In addition, hints were voiced that the Democratic Party is ready to be guided by pragmatic approaches and to forget the grievances against its former party members.
Whatever the outcome of the elections, it is quite clear that the ruling majority in the current combination can hardly be considered strong and capable of providing effective support to the cabinet’s work. Whatever the real relationship between socialists and democrats, it is likely that no one will squabble at this stage. According to experts, everyone is waiting for the first round to have a clearer view of further political developments and to enable more accurate expert predictions about the possible results of the presidential election.
A parliamentary meeting is expected to be held between the two rounds to determine the potential for the PSRM-DPM collaboration and the democrats’ willingness to support Igor Dodon in the second round, as well as to test the ad hoc voting and alternative forms of political cooperation in parliament.
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