The RTA editors recalled outgoing year’s key events that unfolded in and around Moldova and had a little look into 2021
Undoubtedly, the presidential elections were the most notable political action in Moldova and its influence, one way or another was traced in many actions, statements and decisions of Moldovan politicians – both in power and in opposition. Dramatic events to be discussed below, largely affected the course of the electoral race, even temporarily pushing it into the background. In addition, they forced the main contender to victory, the then current president Igor Dodon (who planned to win the sympathy of the population by turning the country into a large construction site) changing plans.
The main candidates, just as four years ago, were Igor Dodon and Maia Sandu. The latter managed this time taking more than a convincing revenge for the 2016 defeat. However, such a convincing advantage was not ensured by Sandu’s breakthrough program (unfortunately, none of the candidates was able to offer truly sensible ideas on restructuring Moldova) but rather due to the ex-head of state’s own mistakes, who clearly got misfortunate to become “a wheelman” during the pandemic. The PAS leader’s total mobilization of her supporters played its role as well, both within the country and especially abroad.
In 2020, Andrei Nastase’s star has apparently, finally sunk. He went into open conflict with Maia Sandu over her refusal to support him in the presidential election, but suffered a disaster in the first round, gaining just over 3% of the vote. At the same time, population’s fatigue from bored faces and the request for changes led to an unexpectedly high result of Renato Usatii, businessman and populist politician with a scandalous reputation.
Despite its importance, the presidential elections, in fact, became only a prologue to another electoral campaign – this time to the parliamentary one. Maia Sandu won the first round of the fight but an even more difficult battle awaits her ahead, especially since the opponents have not hesitated setting traps for the new president. It is difficult to say at the moment who will prevail in the early elections, as well as when will they take place: as soon as possible (as Sandu insists on) or in the second half of the year. The PAS and PSRM have iron chances to take seats in the main legislative body of the country, while Our Party and the SHOR party have good chances. However, everything can still change. So far, one thing is clear: it is this campaign that will decide who will really rule Moldova for the next few years.
Internal political leapfrog
The situation in parliament attracted no less attention than the elections this year, never ceasing to amaze until the very end of this year. Formally, this year Moldova entered without a ruling coalition, although by that time the cooperation of socialists and democrats had already been established and the appointment of Ion Chicu government resulted due to. The main face within current events, has suddenly become the seemingly defeated in 2019, Democratic Party. For a long time, PDM flirted with some or other forces in parliament, until it nevertheless formalized an official alliance with the PSRM, receiving in return lots of political and financial dividends.
On the other hand, the Democratic Party suffered serious personnel losses, both in the districts and in the parliament itself, thus becoming a donor for dubious political projects such as the “Pro Moldova”, “Pentru Moldova” factions and the “SHOR” party. It was during this period that parliamentary dashes from one camp became commonplace (some people’s deputies did this trick more than once). This process reached its peak (or, rather, the bottom) when PSRM MP’s Stefan Gatcan resonant escape and return.
In late April – early May, a political crisis flares up with renewed vigor, characterized by oligarchic groups in parliament offensive against the ruling coalition and initiating a vote of no confidence in Chicu’s Cabinet of Ministers.
On the eve of presidential elections, the official PSRM-PDM coalition broke up. The “unofficial” union of PSRM-Pentru Moldova replaced it and marked itself stamping an incredible number of populist bills that the next parliamentary composition will most likely, have to deal with. Judging by the latest events, this alliance turned out as well, being situational but perhaps this is just a trick for the opposition whilst PSRM-Pentru Moldova still has many surprises reserved for the president and the opposition.
Coronavirus in Moldova
The 2020’s main event on a planetary scale is the pandemic of a new type of coronavirus infection COVID-19 that did not bypass Moldova either. From the first days RTA covered in detail the course of the epidemic in Moldova, providing weekly reports on the situation with the virus in the country and with the corresponding reaction of the authorities, in whose decisions there were both as rare successes as more often numerous failures.
At first, Moldova was generally “in trend”, acting in accordance with other European countries: first, it introduced quarantine restrictions, then a complete lockdown. We managed to avoid the worst scenarios, although there were periods when our republic was in first place, among other states, in terms of infection rate. Subsequently, losses due to the pandemic and the most severe drought led to a severe economic crisis, which made it impossible introducing repeated restrictions during the second wave of coronavirus, which swept Europe in the fall.
In fact, the situation was left to chance and all hopes are now being associated in many respects only with vaccine obtaining. Whether Moldova actually gets it or not is the main 2021 intrigue in the healthcare sector. Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, who arrived yesterday to pay a visit, has already pledged 200,000 doses of the new Pfizer vaccine, so supplies are expected through the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization. We shouldn’t forget about the Russian vaccine Sputnik V that will very likely, be as well available for the population of Moldova. If only this issue is not politicized again, as was the case with the Russian loan.
Moldova between East and West
Due to the breakdown of the unique right-left coalition, (and, accordingly, the situational union of Russia, the USA and the EU, which gave birth to it), this year Moldova became again an arena of confrontation between major geopolitical players. Despite the conciliatory rhetoric and the proclamation of the concept of a “balanced foreign policy”, the ruling regime and President Igor Dodon actually found themselves in international isolation from the West which began to actively prepare for revenge.
The unfolding struggle of external forces cost Moldova dearly, in a way. On the one hand, the EU’s macro-financial assistance was again frozen, and on the other hand, the opposition blocked the Russian 200 million euros loan that was planned to be spent on building roads and supporting the budget deficit.
It is clear that there is no reason to expect that the United States and Russia will return to balanced interaction in our republic next year. On the contrary, the latest maneuvers indicate that Moscow and Washington are already working on their next moves in the Moldovan direction.
“Warming up” the post-Soviet space
It is worth saying a few words about the situation around Moldova that this year did sometimes warm up to the limit. First of all, we are talking about the restless post-Soviet space. One of the most striking performances was the grandiose opposition protests that unfolded after the too confident victory of Alexander Lukashenko in the presidential elections. Many experts rightly drew parallels between the events in Belarus and Moldova, analyzing the prospects for dramatic events repetition of USSR our “partners” in Moldova itself – taking into account the upcoming campaign for the presidency.
In addition to Belarus, Kyrgyzstan marked itself as well; there another coup d’etat took place in the fall, as well as in Armenia and Azerbaijan which unleashed a full-scale war on the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh that ended in a radical breakdown of the status quo in this conflict. Interesting processes took place in neighboring Ukraine, where important local elections were held. Despite the poll-referendum initiated by President Volodymyr Zelensky, his Servant of the People party suffered a crushing defeat, reflecting significant disappointment in Ukrainian society with the activities of the green team. At the same time, these elections consolidated the trend towards further regionalization and the neighboring state decentralization.
One way or another, all these events affected Moldova as well, throwing sometimes non-trivial tasks to its authorities when on their solution depended future relations with partners in the CIS. For example, should we trust official results of presidential elections in Belarus or recognize, in unison with the EU, the claims for the post of opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya? Whom are we to support within the next war for Nagorno-Karabakh – Armenia or Azerbaijan? There is no doubt that the next 2021 year has no less serious challenges in reserve for Chisinau, both on the internal and external tracks.
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