The first round of the presidential race will be a teaser for future home policy changes in Moldova
Two weeks after the election campaign was launched, it is increasingly apparent that the main candidates are reserving themselves for the second round. Therefore, the race, as many journalists truly stated, evolves without much drive and intricate stories able to grab public attention and motivate Moldovans to exercise their voting rights.
Experts believe, the main reason for such a low activity is an obvious crisis of ideas. The favorites couldn’t offer anything new to a voter, and the already overused traditional slogans about the European and Eurasian integration no longer impress the sophisticated Moldovan public. As a result, the leading opposition candidates in their election programs focus exclusively on the fight against the incumbent president, who, in their opinion, embodies a “political evil”. Igor Dodon, apparently, has decided not to stand out against his rivals, voicing abstract general ideas of peace, unity and consolidation as part of his campaign.
In this context, a fairly low turnout is expected. Moldovan sociologists note that voters have little interest in the upcoming ballot. This is due to the growing understanding that the presidency is not crucial in terms of politics to trigger any changes in the country’s current situation. Besides, the pandemic factor and personal health risks also matter. Moreover, the National Emergency Health Commission has already introduced the “red code” of epidemiological danger in almost all regions of the country.
Against this backdrop, presidential candidates are making redoubled efforts to hold daily meetings with voters. According to experts, it is now important for the incumbent head of state to concentrate on mobilizing his senior, but at the same time, more responsible voter, who through a massive turnout can guarantee a competitive advantage.
Meanwhile, the situation is somewhat different for Maia Sandu. The main task of her electoral headquarters is to immediately start building the necessary conditions to mobilize and concentrate the entire center-right electoral field. In pursuance of this task, last week Maia Sandu sent letters to five opposition candidates with a proposal to abandon political debates and any attacks against each other, and concentrate on criticizing Igor Dodon. The opposition colleagues have made such proposals more than once throughout the year. The timeliness of such a gesture from the PAS leader signals her intention to take the initiative into her own hands and position herself as the main figure of the pre-election strife.
Specialists also explain the main competitors’ reduced electoral activity by the expectations of the first round, which may reflect the results of possible early parliamentary elections. The first round is believed to become also a catalyst for other internal political and internal party processes. The outcome of this round of voting will first of all make it possible to understand which of the candidates will be supported by the former ACUM bloc’s voters, and the leaders of the failed project, Maia Sandu and Andrei Nastase, will have a chance to dot the i’s and understand the electoral prospects of the PAS party and the DA Platform.
No less interesting is the result with which Renato Usatii will come to the finish line. Judging by sociological polls, he boosted his personal rating up to the 2016 level and already poses a tangible threat for Igor Dodon and the Party of Socialists, since he competes in the general electoral field. The election strategy chosen by Renato Usatii is noteworthy: in his anti-Russian rhetoric, he promises to “tear his Russian passport” aiming to absorb the nationalist part of the left electorate, i.e. younger people who do not dwell on dreams of the communist past but yet believe that social justice should be the country’s priority. The results of the first round will show whether the project on “pulling” the left-flank electorate towards the candidate actively opposing the Kremlin’s protégé was successful. Thus, it will be possible to assess the prospects for a new “left” political force in Moldova, alternative to the socialists, which the West seems to be already prepared to patronize.
In this context, the voting results in the first round are critically important for the incumbent president, since the higher percentage of electoral support is received by Igor Dodon, the more chances he has to convince the population and the world community of his inevitable victory in the second round. Accordingly, the opposite statement is also appropriate here.
The first round results will open the way for electing a new leader of the unionist movement in Moldova which is in a long-term crisis, despite the growing popularity of the idea of integration with Romania both among Moldova’s population and most political formations. This niche is now awaiting a new generation of politicians who can implement the long-standing idea of inner unity among unionists, and then lead this project which has a significant political potential.
Paradoxically, the sitting democrats who, with the “golden chip” in their hands today, have taken a wait-and-see attitude, preparing to support a guaranteed candidate in the second round, may become the most successful beneficiaries or, vice versa, total losers. As RTA experts wrote earlier, the democrats need a kind of stability through their personal participation in shadow schemes to “administer” resources and no political shocks in the form of criminal prosecution or, God forbid, early parliamentary elections.
The electorate of “dissenters” from Pro-Moldova is likely to blend in the votes for Maia Sandu. In addition, first signals and signs appeared last week that another “migration” of deputies from Pro-Moldova and even from the DPM to the SOR party is expected in order to get involved in a new coalition configuration.
Thus, despite the skepticism among experts regarding the presidential election in the parliamentary republic, its consequences will be of much greater significance for the Moldovan political life than just defining the name of a person to occupy apartments on the Stefan cel Mare boulevard.
Get real time update about this post categories directly on your device, subscribe now.