The hasty bill on the Russian language status may be an attempt to rally the PSRM around the long-overdue national initiatives
The presidential race has become a milestone, which should be followed not only by rethinking of what has happened, but also by defining the scope for further planning. As Moldovan experts believe, the closest “beacon” for all major stakeholders in the Moldovan political field is early parliamentary elections, which are expected to take place sooner or later.
In the meantime, a semblance of domestic stability will apparently be sustained by a situational parliamentary majority. Of course, this format of political cooperation is rather fragile and does not imply that it will last long. Moreover, according to some experts, Vladimir Plahotniuc is playing number one in this whole story, who, depending on the situation, will use one or another “deck of deputies” of the desired suit in the game with the socialist leaders.
The PSRM is well aware how precarious the current situation is and has actually started its first preparations for elections to the national legislative body. Most likely, Moscow is already analyzing the prospects for the pro-Russian parties to enter the future parliament, proceeding, primarily, from the results of the recent presidential elections. Certainly, the Kremlin’s conclusions will be drawn promptly, and the foreign policy line in relations with Moldova will inevitably be adjusted.
The only question is how soon, on what scale and with what resources the forces will be regrouped to further build the capacity which will have to be translated into a concrete result in the parliamentary elections.
The Kremlin’s most obvious step towards changing the model of the Moldovan internal political environment and its overall perception could be forming a network of loyal political forces and leaders across the entire spectrum of the left and protest electorate, as well as drawing them into a controlled competitive struggle. As the presidential race experience and specifically Renato Usatii’s example have shown, a pro-Russian electorate in Moldova is not always ready to vote for merely a frequent guest in Moscow.
Igor Dodon is now focused on the threat to his unique position, since it directly affects the prospects of retaining one of the key roles in Moldovan politics. The incumbent president has worked hard for many years to gain his exclusive status, taking hold of the entire pro-Russian mainstream and at the same time neutralizing practically all alternative political forces on the left flank, both with Vlad Plahotniuc and Russian officials’ support.
As part of the planned trip to Moscow, the head of state will probably make efforts to convince the Kremlin that “de-monopolizing” his position and the Party of Socialists is unreasonable. Especially, during the instability in the internal political situation and the imminent parliamentary elections, in which a bet should be again placed on the PSRM and its leader, as the only backbone, in order to avoid risks. Igor Dodon will most likely offer Moscow to develop minority political projects in a more favorable environment.
In addition, Dodon’s desire to retain his uncontested position, including as the party’s leader, is explained by the need to ensure unity in the political formation, which is not immune from hidden centrifugal processes in case of lost presidential position, up to an open split between various informal groups of party members who disagree with the current PSRM’s course. The intention voiced by Igor Dodon to come to grips with the party affairs only confirm the assumptions about not entirely healthy processes within the socialist ranks.
In this regard, the unexpected PSRM’s legislative initiative on the Russian language status in Moldova is symptomatic. The hasty draft bill evoked much criticism of the authors, which, in principle, is understandable. The no less hasty suggestions that the bill was meant to create the background for the upcoming talks between Dodon and Kozak seem logical, but too obvious. It is likely that there were other reasons for such a step. For example, an interesting hypothesis is that the president is making efforts to lay the ground for a political settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, with the language component as one of its cornerstones. Voting on this issue will become an important marker of the overall readiness of the Moldovan elites to create conditions needed to integrate the left bank of the Nistru within a special status regime.
Despite the various interpretations, such a bill may be primarily designed to overcome the internal disunity and mobilize the party around the long-overdue national initiatives. And if you really try hard, the first law to be signed by Maia Sandu might well refer to the Russian language status. Moreover, any of her decisions on this issue (to promulgate or not), will one way or another work in socialists’ favor.
It is difficult to say whether the Kremlin will listen to the arguments of the Moldovan president. A radical change in Moscow’s approaches can hardly be expected in the near future, based on the classical principle saying not to change horses in the middle of the river. However, in a strategic perspective, new ideas and projects authored by Russia will most likely appear on the Moldovan political scene.
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