President Maia Sandu’s main goal is holding early parliamentary elections. However, sociological calculations indicate that the new convocation of the legislative body is unlikely to help overcome the political crisis and form a stable power structure.
Igor Dodon, who is on a visit to Moscow, does not particularly hide the fact that the state of emergency voted by his party of socialists, as well as by the deputies of the “Shor” – “Pentru Moldova” group was introduced primarily to postpone early parliamentary elections in the country. The coalition has tried all other methods (except for declaring an emergency) that have not brought the desired results. Socialists’ candidacies for the post of Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova were never considered seriously – Marianna Durlesteanu withdrew from the race, presumably after a conversation with the US Ambassador, the Constitutional Court prohibited Vladimir Golovatiuc to compete.
In turn, the figures that President Maia Sandu nominated, deputies of the current convocation of parliament cast not a single vote for. Neither Natalia Gavrilitsa nor Igor Grosu could seriously qualify for government formation and did not even bother to significantly adjust its composition or program after the first failure. It is obvious that the nomination of these candidates was of a purely formal nature and did not imply a search for compromise formulas for a way out of the political crisis. On the contrary, politicians as close as possible to Maia Sandu were proposed to ensure their candidacies to be rejected and early elections approached.
With no intention of approving a government fully accountable to Maia Sandu, the coalition agreed to declare a 60-day state of emergency, which would postpone elections at least until June and keep Aureliu Ciocoi at the helm of the cabinet. De facto, this decision will prolong the crisis in state governance, including the pandemic, which will cast several years backwards the already ineffective Moldovan model.
Today, no one is responsible for republic’s development. Maia Sandu does not control government activities and therefore, cannot make serious decisions on the operational management of the country. Her position is in many ways similar to the situation of Igor Dodon himself in 2017-2018, when the democratic government of Pavel Filip and the speaker of parliament Andrian Candu, personally loyal to Vladimir Plahotniuc, could at any time “turn off” the president without powers. Even a more substantial level of public support and unconditional loyalty to the EU and the United States do not give Maia Sandu a decisive advantage and the ability to fully dispose of the administrative levers that are still mainly in Igor Dodon’s hands.
At the same time, Aureliu Ciocoi’s government that is subordinated to him is also not engaged in qualified government administration and is focusing on the task to ensure the “drawdown” of the electoral rating of the Action and Solidarity party. Moreover, this goal is sometimes implemented without regard to the immediate prospects for the country functioning or for citizens’ interests. Everything is being done to create artificial crises and blame Maia Sandu for, thus, depriving her of the electorate support.
At the beginning of the year, there almost happened a clash with Transdniestria over the planned ban to enter Ukraine for vehicles possessing Transdniestrian plates numbers. A postponement, due to international intervention, primarily at the OSCE level, made it possible avoiding a conflict at the start of Maia Sandu’s presidential term. But the September 1 deadline creates a serious misunderstanding with Tiraspol, which could retaliate. Igor Dodon will certainly take advantage of dialogue undermining between the banks of the Dniester, and will talk about the way he met with Vadim Krasnoselsky 7 times and was successfully friends with Transdniestria.
A similar combination was apparently done when the Russian Sputnik V vaccine supply to Moldova. The incumbent Moldovan president, who did not send an appeal in time, was declared to be the culprit of delaying the process. At the same time, the reason for the Kremlin’s consent to the provision (with a huge delay) of the vaccine is not Maia Sandu’s letter with a corresponding request, but a telegram from Parliament Speaker Zinaida Greceanii and Igor Dodon’s personal visit to Moscow.
From April 1, there arose the export to the Russian Federation question of a number of agricultural products produced in Moldova. The Russian authorities suspended value added tax exemption and a number of customs formalities due to the fact that the Russian Foreign Ministry did not inform the government about the need to prolong the application of preferences for Moldovan agricultural products. Igor Dodon hastened accusing the incumbent of diplomatic failure, although the MFAEI of the Republic of Moldova was the responsible for sending a formal note to Moscow with a request to extend the mechanism.
Another unpleasant “gift” addressed to Maia Sandu is related to judge Nikolay Chaus’ disappearance from the territory of Moldova of retired Ukrainian. He is wanted at home and is allegedly already delivered to Ukraine, apparently with the participation of diplomats from the Embassy of the neighboring state in Chisinau. The uncommon case itself, it fits perfectly into the logic of the Moldovan-Ukrainian unhealthy relations of recent years, the case is artificially dispersed today to a universal proportions scandal. The main goal is to cool down the well-formed relationship between Maia Sandu and Volodymyr Zelensky seems to be achieved fairly easily.
The aforementioned internal political struggle methods are unlikely to turn away the Action and Solidarity Party’s most loyal in the early parliamentary election supporters. Nevertheless, their active use can mobilize (bring to the polls, despite the pandemic and disappointment) and rally Igor Dodon’s electorate and the left flank as a whole, straightening out the situation that seemed to be a stalemate yet a few weeks ago.
In addition, constant attacks and accusations will unnerve right-wing politicians and their constituents. In the conditions of extreme fragmentation and tightness in the right political spectrum, additional demoralization significantly reduces the electoral prospects for potential coalition partners of Action and Solidarity in the 11th convocation parliament.
Even current opinion polls do not show figures that would allow predicting a way out of political zugzwang after parliamentary elections. The confusion and vacillation in the camp of the pro-Romanian parties make them all in a crowd impassable in the upcoming voting. Along with, the democrats and Andrei Nastase’s “Dignity and Justice” platform lost their administrative leverage and respectively popular support.
The Action and Solidarity party should win elections, socialists and Shor party deputies are also confidently entering parliament, Renato Usatii’s Our Party and even the Vladimir Voronin’s communists have prospects of appearing in the legislative body.
In this situation, the only hypothetical majority alliance that can somehow be imagined is the Action and Solidarity coalition with Our Party, but there are too many “but” in here: will Renato Usatii’s political formation get into parliament; will he, together with Action and Solidarity Party make it to possess 51 votes for all; will Maia Sandu agree with coalition’s agreement terms which would suit Renato Usatii; will there be people able to participate in the government among former mayor of Balti supporters; what to do about leader of Our Party’s faulty reputation and in particular, about his criminal prosecution in Russia.
It is as well difficult imagining Maia Sandu to start buying additional votes and luring away vacillating deputies.
It is much more likely that in the new Moldovan parliament a stable (both in number and in content) coalition will not develop just as in the current one. This will plunge Moldova into even greater administrative and political chaos. In the context of an economic crisis, problems in public health and agriculture and tensions within Transdniestrian settlement, the consequences for our country could turn out quite dire.
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