On taking office, Maia Sandu in fact declared war on the ruling elite, triggering a deep internal political crisis and a tough standoff between the parliament and the presidency.
Last week marked Maia Sandu’s first 100-day milestone in her new position. In this regard, a corresponding report with the main results of Sandu and her team’ work over the past three months was published on the presidential website. The views of journalists and experts as to its content varied. However, summing up the preliminary results of what has been achieved by the head of state seems quite appropriate.
A number of strategic tasks which Maia Sandu has not only set before herself from the first day of her presidency but also imposed on the entire political class have actually predetermined further domestic policy developments. The first person’s key goal is to provoke early parliamentary elections, which can be held only upon occurrence of the necessary circumstances. The first step to that end was the Chicu-led government’s resignation, which happened the day before the inauguration of the president-elect.
Right from the outset, Maia Sandu decided to position herself as a social resistance locomotive, despite her limited powers. Moreover, the new president was elevated to spearhead a new generation of Moldovan politicians capable of radically changing the state configuration. As declared, the main task on that path is to remove the Moldovan post-Soviet elite unable to generate a relevant agenda for the country in line with today’s realities of both regional and international context.
Under these conditions, the main opponent of the president was clearly the parliament, which, led by the majority faction of the Socialist Party, actively opposed the presidency’s attempts to quickly formalize all the necessary constitutional conditions for the dissolution of the country’s legislative body. By the way, last week the Constitutional Court dismissed PSRM’s application on annulling Natalia Gavrilita’s attempt to be elected as prime minister. For this reason, experts have practically no doubt that the highest court acknowledges the fact that it is possible to issue a decree on the early termination of the powers of the current parliament.
Maia Sandu’s main foreign policy efforts were focused on breaking the practice of international disregard for Moldova, first of all, by the Western states. To this end, the president first restored the highest-level political contacts with both neighbors – Romania and Ukraine, and also reintroduced the Moldovan dossier on the current agenda of Washington and Brussels. This is vividly confirmed by the largely intensified activity of the American and European diplomacy in Chisinau which has catalyzed the main political processes initiated by the new Moldovan president loyal to the West.
Getting relations with key external partners back on track could not but open up the possibilities for international assistance, mainly in the form of vaccines. For all the obvious political orientation of Maia Sandu, it should be noted that she is still trying to maintain a balanced foreign policy approach. As a result, Moscow didn’t openly ignore the Moldovan leader’s request for help and will most likely send the first batch of the Russian “Sputnik V” to Moldova in the very near future, preferring not to rely solely on Igor Dodon.
At the same time, a full-fledged unblocking of the systemic macro-financial assistance from the sources of the same International Monetary Fund, which planned to open a credit line in the amount of about $ 550 million, is not yet possible, at least until the long-term internal political stabilization. Tellingly, not only Western capitals (in particular, the Moldova-Romania agreement on the gratuitous financial and technical aid was terminated at the end of March) but also Moscow is in no hurry to help. The Kremlin has decided to temporarily left aside the issue of the preferential export regime extension for Moldovan products to Russian markets, despite its expiration on March 31.
We cannot unequivocally state that Maia Sandu completes her first one hundred days as president in a more advantageous position. It is obvious that the responsibility for the current deep political crisis in the country, created quite deliberately and purposefully, largely rests with the head of state. Selfishness and individualism, often manifested by Sandu in decision-making, as well as distrust of the overwhelming number of the Moldovan political class representatives drove the president into a state of political loneliness, which in the end can turn into either an extraordinary success or total defeat.
The current opinion polls show such an ambitious tactic has a fruitful effect on the personal popularity of Maia Sandu and the PAS party close to her. This political formation enjoys almost all rating bonuses of the head of state and is determined to gain the necessary number of votes in early parliamentary elections in order to independently form a parliamentary majority and appoint their own government.
There is no doubt that Maia Sandu will continue to smash the Moldovan political system to achieve her goals. Despite the resistance, there is no equivalent counter pressure from the collective opposition. Therefore, achieving the result desired by the president in the current circumstances is only a matter of time. The only question is whether it will help stabilize the system as intended. After all, the issue of early elections is never that simple.
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