Post-Election Scenarios in Moldova

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A single-party rule, right-wing coalition, center-left alliance or a new crisis stage - in what way the internal political situation in the country will develop after July 11
The electoral campaign in Moldova is rapidly nearing its end. In just a few days, early parliamentary elections will take place to become the major political event of this year. The main opponents of the electoral race are throwing their last "trump cards" in the form of incriminating materials into the public space hoping to win over the undecided voters who are still about 15%, judging by the latest polls. Both favorites - the PAS party and the Bloc of Communists and Socialists - have guaranteed themselves one hundred percent entry into the future parliament. However, other, so-called, second-tier political formations, according to the latest sociological surveys, need to pick up momentum to snatch a "ticket" to the legislative body of the new convocation. According to experts, the final stage of the current election campaign is, as expected, largely tense, but without dramatic escalations or sudden surprise. The quite typical and even to some extent linear pre-election activity of electoral competitors, comparable to the level of interest of the citizens, can be explained by the accumulated fatigue of the Moldovan voters. After all, people have been witnessing the growing pre-election confrontation since the fall of 2019, when PAS and PSRM finally parted taking different paths. As a result, two opposing camps were formed in the country. This Sunday's vote will obviously change the general configuration of power substantially. It's time to make preliminary forecasts and analyze potential scenarios of how the domestic political situation will develop after the elections. The first "single-party rule scenario" implies that PAS will receive a significant number of votes, primarily at the expense of the diaspora. If, in terms of parliamentary mandates, they get more than fifty seats in parliament, they will be able to independently form the governing bodies in parliament, appoint a cabinet of ministers and other government structures. In that case, two or three electoral players will enter the new convocation with a high degree of probability, the rest of the parties will be left behind. In such circumstances, the only major opposition force will exert enormous constant pressure trying by all available means to prevent the ruling party from implementing its internal political agenda amid the extremely tough Moldovan realities. It is clear that with a convincing election result, the PAS will start its tenure with a total cleanup of the governmental system taking the reins of power into its own hands. However, if we analyze the messages voiced throughout the election campaign (mainly about the lack of alternatives to the pro-European course) we will hardly be able to understand how exactly the pro-presidential party plans to independently run the country and tackle all accumulated problems. At the same time, the PAS party camp has made repeated statements about the possible invitation of foreign Varangians, including those of Georgian origin, which in fact somehow explains what the leading political force is counting on and what resources it is intent to rely on. The second "coalition scenario" suggests a wider distribution of votes, which will make it impossible for PAS to form a parliamentary majority single-handedly. In this case, four or more political parties may get into parliament. PAS will have to choose the most politically convenient partner(s) from among them to form the coalition. Such developments throw PAS into inevitability of making painful political compromises associated with obvious risks, which, based on the Moldovan realities, will only get worse in the future. Despite the collegial format of work, the responsibility for the future coalition government and the results of its work will in fact place a heavy personal burden on the PAS party leader. The gravity of the challenges facing Moldova are likely to weaken the political prospects of both the party itself and its leader, Maia Sandu, who will be forced to view any actions of her "partners" through the lens of a possible second presidential term. According to experts, if several parties enter the legislature, a bloc named after the mayor of Balti Renato Usatii is predicted as the most likely coalition partner of PAS. However, if he enters parliament, this Moldovan politician will receive not only a kind of "golden share" enabling him to participate in the formation of the government and subsequently influence the governance of the country, but also a formidable carte blanche for the future allowing him to increase his political weight without risks. Good if that government will meet the aspirations of the electorate. But if the coalition government fails to cope with the tasks, demonstrating weakness and inefficiency when tackling the challenges (which is most likely), the costs will be largely borne personally by the head of the leading party and President M. Sandu. Moreover, in this scenario, R. Usatii will have enough opportunities to criticize his situational "partners" and personally M. Sandu, driven by a strong incentive to increase his political rating, including at the expense of voters who currently support PAS. The third "center-left scenario" is that certain parties and formations unexpectedly get into the parliament, while PAS will be the only right-flank force entering the legislature with a result of less than 50 seats. In this case, hypothetically, we can consider the possibility of a broad alliance between the BoCS, the Sor Party and the Bloc of Renato Usatii. The latter not so long ago hinted at his readiness to cooperate with the socialists if certain conditions from the rider are met. This option seems the least likely at the moment, both due to the low chances for the second-tier left-wing forces to gain the required percentage of votes and the existing disagreements between them. The fourth "crisis scenario" is possible if the situation in the future parliament deprives the parties of any chance to come to a common denominator. In such circumstances, there will be only one option - to hold the next early parliamentary elections, which, for example, in 2009-2010 were held thrice to overcome the impossibility to elect the head of state. In the current context, the issue of electing a president is certainly not as acute as it was 10 years ago. The key factor that can provoke another parliamentary crisis is the intransigence and principled position of PAS in parliamentary majority formation in the absence of other alternatives. The pro-presidential party, falling short in 2019, now chooses to be sterile in relations with other factions and does not want to risk its image and betray its voters trust just to gain access to power. With the possibilities and appetites now getting stronger, this formation is quite ready to play in the long run to secure a unique position on the Moldovan political Olympus for itself.