Opinion: The Political Crisis in Moldova May Drag on for Several Years

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Sergiu CEBAN Some experts already recall a decade-old experience when the country was managing without a president for almost 2.5 years The months-long struggle between the main institutional groups in the parliament and the presidency is getting even more complicated every week. The two agenda items - to dissolve the legislature or appoint a new government - remain the only possible way to escape from the tight grasp of the internal political crisis. With all its adverse impact, the ongoing turmoil moves the domestic situation away from stability while the country is day by day spiraling into another COVID epidemic wave. Last week, both opposing sides once again showed their exceptional determination to reinforce political positions and electoral popularity, even at the expense of the interests of the Moldovan society and state. Experts say, the constantly exploited populist ideas amid insufficient effective administrative decisions is a bad sign that the country may eventually face dire economic and especially health care consequences. The past week was marked by the joint voting of the Socialist Party, Shor/Pentru Moldova and PRO Moldova for the declaration of a political truce, authored by Vladimir Plahotniuc's closest associate, parliamentary ex-speaker Adrian Candu. Furthermore, the deputies of the aforementioned parliamentary groups appointed several new judges, and also assigned the PRO Moldova faction to lead one of the parliamentary commissions. That was a kind of a demonstrative “broad coalition” test, with a bold hint that the efforts to reach the critical mass of deputies needed for Maia Sandu's removal are in full swing. If the goal to collect the votes of 67 deputies really exists, then it is reasonable to ask what factions will become a donor for staffing the expanding coalition and which people's representatives will be unable to resist the next financial offers. The Democratic Party of Moldova is still in the particular risk zone, so its leaders are forced to take steps and show political activity in order to consolidate their supporters. At one time, the DPM leadership pinned great hopes on the elected president since their withdrawal from the coalition with the socialists before the second round of elections eventually forced the Ion Chicu government to resign and expand the head of state's field for the current original maneuvers. Apparently, it was not an outright political egoism that the democrats expected from Maia Sandu but rather her mobilizing qualities which she would use to unite all pro-European forces projecting her high political rating onto them. The recent moves of oligarchic elements in parliament have quite obviously bolstered Maia Sandu's conviction that her intentions to remove the current people's representatives from the political scene are justified. Therefore, it is highly possible that after March 23 the president will not apply to the Constitutional Court but immediately sign a decree to dissolve the parliament, and will then wait for her decision to be subsequently validated by the court. Whatever verdict is delivered by the Moldovan servants of Themis, the decree on terminating the powers of the country's legislative body will be a psychological blow for its current composition and a kind of "point of no return". While political opponents in parliament are testing various scenarios to induce the president to "use common sense" and not to lose completely her electoral support, Maia Sandu made another risky move and following a meeting of the Supreme Security Council suggested introducing a two-week lockdown in the country. Along with that, the retired government was recommended to appoint secretaries of state to the Ministry of Health, to develop a plan for sectoral restrictions affecting citizens and entrepreneurs, as well as a state compensation system. As expected, the latest prohibitive measures have become a good opportunity for heated debate, mutual accusatory rhetoric and disputes about the most proportionate methods to contain the new wave of COVID-19. The proposed lockdown have drawn the lines of discord more clearly, highlighting the total weakness of Moldovan politicians, unable to even agree on a common approach amid a dangerously increasing number of confirmed cases and a dramatic daily increase in the number of deaths. Undoubtedly, the complete political irresponsibility will later affect the public's confidence in the current generation of Moldovan statesmen who have not gotten out of the election race and risk a deep conflict not only with each other but also with the population. Weekly provincial feuds counting phones and carpets, lush photo shoots at the airport with the vaccine boxes in the background are not impressive, to put it mildly, and cause irresistible irritation among the people. In the not so distant future, all this can lead to a knee-jerk social response that can sweep away even the most promising politicians. Some experts argue that the current institutional crisis in Moldova can last long, citing as an example a decade-old experience when the republic was managing without a president for almost two and a half years, whom the then parliamentarians couldn't elect. The specificity of the Moldovan political culture is such that the state system can really adapt to the existing reality and work in the minimum necessary functionality mode, with a focus on serving the interests of its key actors.