Opinion: "Avoiding Early Parliamentary Elections Will Be Difficult for the Ruling Majority in Moldova"

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Semion ALBU After the second attempt to appoint a government failed, Moldova has finally taken the early parliamentary elections path. It will be very difficult avoiding them - but there are options to delay them Over recent weeks, political life in Moldova has been bubbling over andhas delighted observers when unexpected plot twists. The next act "government approving or early elections" in the long-running play took place yesterday: a potential cabinet of ministers led by Igor Grosu made its appearance in parliament aiming for a vote of confidence. Interesting that PAS and the president did initially strongly hint at this Cabinet's real intentions to take responsibility for the situation in the country (in contrast to the past one, headed by Gavrilitsa). Theoretically, the DA Platform and the Democratic Party were ready to vote for it and the only intrigue was whether would be Grosu supported by someone from the PSRM duumvirate - the SHOR / For Moldova group. As a result, the de facto parliamentary majority refused responding to the PAS candidateclaims and then, right on the eve of the parliamentary meeting, the pro-presidential party itself decided not to vote for Grosu. Apparently, the position was promptly adjusted at the last moment when understanding it was impossible getting the 51 desired people's representatives votes. As it ended up, the vote for the new Cabinet of Ministers did not take place at all since the Socialists and the Shors simply left the meeting room. It is not surprise that such vicissitudes received extremely angry rebuffs from the future early election’s outsiders – the DA and PDM, who secretly hoped for the Grosu government to be approved. Alexandru Slusari called a "circus performance" the happening within the walls of the parliament and Pavel Filip complained about the war between two politicians when one of them "does not know how to lose and the other one does not know how to win," obviously implying Igor Dodon and Maia Sandu. However, it is difficult to agree with the Democratic Party leader’s statement. As well seen, the president knows how to win. And today, she intends gathering parliamentary factions for consultations aiming at only one goal: to state conditions for current composition of legislators’ dissolution, then issue a corresponding decree and send it to the Constitutional Court. At the same time, the court has practically no other option but to support the head of state’s position, because in legal terms it is impeccable. Three months have passed since Chicu's resignation and there have been two attempts to nominate a government. The fact that they did not even vote for the latter one does not change the matter. In this situation, the ruling (non)coalition is being in a position of catching up at a distance when the leader of the race has a huge handicap. Nevertheless, the PSRM chairman has already announced his intention to “fight Sandu to the end” whilst socialists made a couple of moves even though they look frankly unconvincing. The attempt to protest the first Gavrilita’s nomination has no chance for success, since the Constitutional Court has already recognized its legitimacy in one of its past decisions. Therefore, the PSRM deputies’ petition is unlikely to even be taken into consideration. Vladimir Golovatiuc’s candidacy for prime minister from the parliamentary majority has either few prospects to be "pushed through". As they say, brandishing fists after the fight never proves anyone's might. In general, that the parliament was defeated became obvious at the moment of Mariana Durlesteanu's self-withdrawal, which confused the coalition's cards as much as possible and allowed the president to seize the initiative. And now the parliamentary majority has to look for “unconstitutional” options for further action (and tolerate Sandu's fair criticism in this regard), although previously it was the head of state who sometimes had to ignore the Basic Law to promote her political agenda. In fact, yesterday's events made early elections inevitable. It is unlikely that the socialists and Shor deputies will evade them, but the latter still have a couple of trump cards in their sleeves that can delay the start of the election campaign. In a sense, the pandemic situation in the country plays into their hands. The third pandemic wave is sweeping in Moldova, with almost daily anti-records for morbidity, mortality and the number serious conditions. Against this background, Igor Dodon's idea that organizing mass events like elections is dangerous and unreasonable and that the country needs a functional government to fight COVID-19 looks convincing. At the same time, criticism of the head of state for allegedly blocking Sputnik V supplies to Moldova is intensifying. True, yesterday the president skilfully rebuffed this accusatory rhetoric by organizing a meeting with Russian Ambassador Oleg Vasnetsov, where, among other things, she spoke about Chisinau's desire to get the Russian vaccine as soon as possible. The pandemic situation gives the parliament grounds to vote for a decree on introducing a state of emergency in the country. Among other things, it excludes the possibility of holding any election campaigns during the state of emergency. At the same time, such a move will certainly entail a negative reaction from the population, already tired of various coronavirus-related restrictions, and at the same time a flurry of criticism from the president and PAS, which is not the best situation before the upcoming elections. Another, a less painful, option is not to vote on the budget amendments that will be required to secure funding for the elections. Moreover, this can be done under a quite plausible pretext of the ongoing pandemic, which means that state money is required primarily to fight COVID, rather than for "political games". Anyway, this year may well bring another "fateful" elections to Moldova. Yesterday's events made it clear that they will surely take place. The parliamentary majority has finally lost the initiative and, despite the formidable rhetoric, is probably already thinking about the upcoming election campaign. And this means that the internal political crisis in the republic has entered the next turn, and a lot of interesting events are still ahead of us.