Milestone Year for Moldova?

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Sergiu CEBAN
2021 has become a time of pro-European revenge in Moldova, while the regional space around the republic has frozen a step away from geopolitical cataclysms and big changes
This year has turned out to be extremely eventful, difficult and, in fact, milestone for the country. It began with a tough confrontation between two irreconcilable camps – Maia Sandu and her team on the one hand and the Socialist Party with fragments of the oligarchic regime on the other. This struggle dragged on for six months, and the triumph of the Action and Solidarity Party following the results of the early parliamentary elections was actually the second stage of the presidential race. The main reasons for the success of the head of state and the political force loyal to her, perhaps, lies in the fact that they were able to give Moldovans hope for a better life and European integration. As a result, for the first time in the history of our country, a single pro-European parliamentary majority was formed, and a single-party cabinet of ministers was approved. At the same time, the internal political field of Moldova has become less heterogeneous, and the past electoral processes have only accelerated the long overdue transformation of the entire political spectrum. Within five months, the new government and the presidency had a lot of trials, the first of which was a severe energy crisis. Its consequences provoked a huge natural gas price increase, the deterioration of the social situation of the population, as well as additional difficulties for the economy and business. The way the authorities came out of crisis situations during the second half of the year exposed the lack of managerial experience and serious problems with the personnel reserve of the government team. Having found many weak spots in power, the collective opposition quite successfully began to reveal its shortcomings and push gross failures to the fore. Thus, the Bloc of Communists and Socialists managed to impose on a part of society the idea that the ruling team is unable to effect election promises and somehow improve the socio-economic situation of the population. As a result, by the end of the year, opinion polls began to indicate a rapid loss of popularity by the ruling party and the president, while the opposition is gradually regaining lost positions. At the same time, the PSRM and PCRM are largely focused on internal regrouping, as well as on finding resources and new leaders. They’re still low on the latter: the Socialists decided not to appoint a new party chairman and stall the process, and the Communists realized that they still need their creator and therefore found nothing else but to re-elect Vladimir Voronin. For the vast majority of pro-European political forces, the passing year has become an occasion for a deep reconsidering and possible restart. After the overwhelming number of voters decided to give their vote to the Action and Solidarity Party, many of them became outsiders of Moldovan politics. The only real force that is still somehow capable of revenge is the DA Platform, which actively criticizes the current authorities, sometimes even associating with communists and socialists. Typically, former colleagues in the ACUM Bloc, as well as other representatives of pro-European parties, were not allowed to join the government team in principle – as experts believe, because of the ruling party’s excessive arrogance. It is possible that in the coming months, the authorities will still understand that it is impossible to do without the involvement of third-party specialists and representatives of related political formations. However, if the situation continues to deteriorate, and Natalia Gavrilita’s government does not deal with the challenges, there will not be so many people willing to get on board the sinking ship. The main intrigue of next year, apparently, will be the emergence of new political projects in the republic. The current mayor of the capital Ion Ceban can be considered a prominent candidate for the role of the new political formation leader. The mayor enjoys quite high popularity, effectively promoting his activities in the media and opposing the central authorities. So, unlike the right flank, where there are no noticeable changes in personnel yet, the left forces seem to have at least some hope for the appearance of new “primas”. Leader of Gagauzia Irina Vlah, who has long been noticed for her significant political ambitions can be considered one of them. This was confirmed by the recent statements of the Gagauz leader about his right to participate in the presidential race. If these plans are destined to come to life, then, most likely, starting next year, she will be trained as a potential rival of Maia Sandu in the presidential elections of 2024. The unionist political segment cannot be ignored either. We have to admit that almost all political formations of this profile have failed to offer citizens any clear ideas on the real rapprochement of the two related countries. Therefore, the Action and Solidarity Party temporarily completely focused on itself this constantly growing contingent of voters who see no other way to breathe life into the pro-European prospects of the state, except by increasing cooperation with Bucharest. The Transnistrian settlement was not fruitful this year. Due to the large number of issues that the authorities need to deal with as soon as possible, interest in negotiations with Tiraspol is gradually fading, and it gradually drops out of the list of urgent tasks. Moreover, it is now more obvious than ever that the prospects for resolving the conflict, one way or another, are connected to a broad regional context. Therefore, until global actors decide on the status of the post-Soviet region, the best solution for our leadership is be to freeze relations with the left bank for a while, so as not to get involved in other people’s games. In general, the year 2021 on a planetary scale continued several key trends – such as the pandemic and the transition to a multipolar world. Such powerful international challenges are catalytic for the search for a new balance between the key Powers. Our regional space, clutched between the Euro-Atlantic community and revanchist Russia, has also become part of this global transformation. So the coming year may mark the beginning of historical changes that will also engulf our republic and neighboring Ukraine.