After the PDM left the coalition with the Socialists and the Democratic ministers resigned, Ion Chicu’s government got in a risky position with minimal public and political support. The protests of farmers and other concerned citizens that have lasted for more than two weeks, did seriously raise the question of how long will the current Cabinet last.
The political calendar promises to be busy this week. A vote of no confidence in Ion Chicu’s government is to be held today in the Moldovan parliament. It is necessary collecting at least 51 votes to consider the Cabinet of Ministers’ resignation. The inauguration of the elected President Maia Sandu is already scheduled for tomorrow. As a pre-election promise, she referred to the must- restart the existing political system through early parliamentary elections.
Traditionally, political events will be accompanied by farmers protests, prominent politicians and social activists’ protests, as well as intensive main players’ consultations with their supporting centers in the West and East. Thus, Igor Dodon being not invited to the inauguration, has scheduled a number of meetings in Moscow at the end of this week.
Maia Sandu’s key goal at this stage is to achieve full power, that is only possible through winning a stable majority in parliament and appointing a loyal government. Considering the background of the elected President of the Republic of Moldova and her underlined image of a politician opposing corruption and oligarchs’ omnipotence, the current parliament composition even mathematically shows an insufficient number of people’s representatives (without according reputational costs) to create a coalition in Maia Sandu’s support. It is almost impossible to imagine the full-fledged cooperation of her Action and Solidarity party with Vladimir Plahotniuc or Ilan Shor’s interests conductors.
Re-joining forces with the socialists is an incredible prospect as well, giving that Igor Dodon has overthrown Maia Sandu’s government violating coalition agreement and promises made to international partners. The temporary PSRM and Pentru Moldova platform coalition (a motley crowd consisting of deputies from the Shor party, former democrats and of the so-called “independent deputies”) has finally closed the road to normal interaction of political forces in the current parliament convocation when adopting a bloc of populist initiatives without formal adherence to procedures, in conditions of confrontation with the opposition and with the street.
Therefore, Maia Sandu’s immediate declared task is to ensure holding early parliamentary elections as soon as possible. Rumor has it that the president-elect might be reluctant to take responsibility for the country amid the raging COVID-19 pandemic. It is not possible to normalize the situation in public health even in spite of substantial international donor assistance.
Vaccination has either already begun, or is to soon begin in advanced countries. However, it is not yet known how soon and in what quantity an effective vaccine will be available to the Moldovan population. In addition, some of the Republic of Moldova residents may refuse to be vaccinated. After British coronavirus mutation has been announced and after London returned to the lockdown, the mood in Moldova’s medical community got close to panic. The decision to close air links with Great Britain has already been made.
In these conditions, some experts attribute to Maia Sandu the temptation to hide out behind Ion Chicu’s government back, wait for the situation to stabilize and not bear the image risks arising from the deplorable Moldovan healthcare condition. At the same time, the new President of the Republic of Moldova’s practical steps and statements indicate the opposite. Maia Sandu feels carte blanche from international partners, feels the instability of the coalition (made of deputies that Ilan Shor has bought), and therefore continues attacking Ion Chicu’s government.
It should be admitted that the current Cabinet resignation should be the first legal step that will allow building a further strategy. Today’s vote is unlikely to be voted on. Due to the pandemic, the party of Maia Sandu will not be able consolidating even a full complement of her supporters, not to mention the socialists and Pentru Moldova majority. An attempt to put forward a vote of no confidence is, rather, a technological device to once again allow defining a position and provoke the street, that is to once again become a key element of the political struggle in Moldova.
Vote failure will ultimately mean that Ion Chicu’s cabinet will be dissolved only if the prime minister himself agrees to resign. That means, the decision is entirely in Prime Minister’s hands who has just recovered from COVID-19 and who worked very organically in the Democratic government during Vladimir Plahotniuc’s omnipotence period.
A number of functionaries (secretaries of state) have outstripped Prime Minister Chicu and have already left the government ranks during yesterday’s extraordinary meeting, thereby dissociating themselves from further events. This thing is of course, a signal but does not guarantee further Cabinet disintegration.
The decision it is to make will largely depend on the street protests intensity and above all, on the position and consultations results with international partners. Ion Chicu, as a former finance minister, cannot fail to understand that populist bills (budget, wage increases for state employees and the retirement age, the billion payment) cannot be implemented without generous international support. Moldova cannot in principle exist without these donor and credit resources, especially when facing a catastrophic economic recession caused by pandemic.
Anyway, getting international funding is impossible with the current power configuration. Only under the obligation to organize early parliamentary elections and only indicating their exact holding date. Formally, the PSRM is not opposing early elections and does not yet indicate any specifics about. Therefore, no help from the international community should be expected. It is doubtful that Ion Chicu would want becoming the captain of a cheerfully and relentlessly sinking ship.
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