Prospects for Moldovan-Romanian Unionism through the Prism of Parliamentary Elections

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Sergiu CEBAN Unionism remains a stable phenomenon and an integral part of Moldovan politics. The upcoming elections is to show the exact extent the pro-Romanian factor can influence Moldova’s strategic course So, the last pre-election preparations and formation of main electoral race favorites are being completed in Chisinau. Recently, all eyes have been directed towards Igor Dodon and Vladimir Voronin, who, overcoming their long-undisguised mutual antipathy, nevertheless decided to create a common bloc in order to get involved within the acute confrontation with pro-Western political parties in a single impulse. Unlike the socialists and communists, the right wing cannot boast of unity in its ranks. The majority of voters will undoubtedly vote for the party loyal to Maia Sandu. The rest political forces are forced to look for non-standard solutions for their political survival. The only thing that, one way or another, increasingly unites the pro-Western forces is the tendency to inevitable reproach with Romania, which takes on various rhetorical forms: starting with the most cautious to extremely unionist ones. Attempts to further pragmatize the unionist trend and synonymously equalize the concepts of “pro-Romanian” and “pro-European”, following the example of Adrian Candu’s recent initiative stating “two states - one system” are likely to continue in the current election campaign. Despite individual experts’ assessments which say that for many years the Moldovan-Romanian unionism did not grow above its 10-15% ceiling, other indirect indicators show the presence of a hidden electoral reserve. One cannot fail to note the high mobility of the Moldovan voter, depending on their socio-economic requirements, which in the current reality are one of the key motivational elements. The results of a recent IMAS survey do clearly indicate this fact. According to it, about 49% of the country's citizens believe they will have advantages if Moldova joins Romania. The first of them, they singled out the increase in pensions and wages. Well, of course, attention is drawn to the fact that sociologists formulated the questions to the respondents with utmost emphasis. However, the final indicators clearly show that the reserve of trust in the Moldovan state, unfortunately, is weakening year to year. Therefore, the hypothesis that has long been circulating on the sidelines of expert discussions saying that a well-thought-out incorporation of rapprochement topic with Romania into the electoral program is absolutely able pushing any pro-Western party into the top three within the elections. It is no secret that the popularity of integration ideas with a neighboring country continues growing in Moldova, especially over recent years. Therefore, it is possible that early parliamentary elections will not only become a revenge of the right-wing forces, but will also fix the next peak indicators of unionism at the national level and among the diaspora electorate. An up-to-date empirical cut in the form of voting results will not only add heat to the long-standing controversy between statalists and unionists, but much more importantly will give political scientists and researchers an opportunity to look at the prospects of the Moldovan state. As well known, the main unionist camp’s problem in Moldova is the total disintegration of party projects. As a result, since 2019, this political trend has not had a pronounced parliamentary representation, with the exception of a few deputies who passed on the lists of the former ACUM bloc to openly declare their unionist inclinations. Nevertheless, it should be noted that attempts to unite the main party structures into one majoritarian project have been actively undertaken over the past two years. Here we can highlight the idea of creating a common platform called Romanian Convention of the Republic of Moldova, as well as the initiative of former liberals to form the UNIREA bloc. The latter did not apparently succeed, including for personal reasons related to the leaders of the Liberal Party. This only underlines the urgent need for new leaders in the unionist segment. As has been repeatedly said, a significant number of indicators show that Bucharest has set itself an ambitious goal to achieve a confident presence in the political life of the neighboring state. Based on the current conditions, it can be assumed that Romania will try to consolidate the unionist camp as much as possible and will run parliamentary elections in two main columns: one from Bucharest - AUR (Alliance for the Unification of Romanians), the other from Chisinau - PUN (Party of National Unity). Both projects are associated with patron parties in Romania and are basically Romanian political formations with a local registration. Difficult to say how soon the unionist movement supporters in Moldova will be able to overcome the deep internal crisis and switch to an evolutionary regime. There is reason to believe that one of the main reasons for the happening within the pro-Romanian forces camp is the invariably consumerist attitude towards unionism as a way to get on the Moldovan political Olympus. No less significant is the factor of relations between the first wave of early 90s unionist politicians generation and the new generation of young idealists who split the unionist segment when massively creating micro-parties. Meanwhile, unionism continues remaining a stable phenomenon and an integral part in the Moldovan politics, thus, the upcoming elections will show the exact extent the pro-Romanian factor can influence the strategic course of the state. Whatever the prospects for Moldovan-Romanian unionism are, one must understand that one of key obstacles to potential reunification is the presence of the current set of problems, including the territorial plan which Bucharest, NATO and the EU do not obviously plan to incorporate.