Moldovan Opposition Remains Convenient for the Authorities

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Victor ENI
With the Opposition’s General Position and Conduct, There’s Little Reason for PAS to Worry About Its Power Yet
After several months of the opposition parties mainly watching what was happening in the country, giving the government the opportunity to fail big time, there has been some revival in their ranks in recent weeks. Non-systemic forces on both the left and right flank are beginning to push the current government, forcing it to publicly justify itself and explain the motives of the decisions taken. Among the pro-European parties, the representatives of the DA Platform are the most active, unlike other right-wing forces, speaking quite sharply about their former colleagues in the ACUM bloc. They manage to criticize almost any steps of the authorities systematically causing crises and scandalous situations. The most recent example is the scandal surrounding the Ribnita steelworks. On this occasion DA Platform made accusations against the Cabinet of Ministers about lobbying the interests of the left-bank administration. The Prime Minister’s and the President’s disoriented behavior and shallow explanations, as expected, could not impress anyone. And representatives of the Platform got themselves an additional reason to put up a list of requirements that look convincing from the point of view of the need to understand the steelworks situation. The Bloc of Communists and Socialists are still the leaders of the parliamentary opposition. Since the loss of power, the deputies of the formation have mainly used legal forms of “combatting” the ruling majority and its government, such as putting forward a no-confidence vote in several ministers and, as expected in the near future, the entire government. In addition, the BoCS regularly introduced populist legislative initiatives and loudly criticized the legislative process of its opponents from the parliamentary rostrum. In general, the communists and socialists’ way of actions can be safely accepted as the “constructive opposition” creating quite comfortable conditions for the authorities. That is, “all barks and no bite”. Given the close connection of the bloc with certain offices in Moscow, it is quite appropriate to assume that such moderation on the part of the BoCS indicates the presence of appropriate recommendations from the Russian capital, where, by the many signals, they hope for a reset of Moldovan-Russian relations. The situation of the two political formations is aggravated by internal uncertainty and, first of all, the unwillingness of Igor Dodon and Vladimir Voronin to cede leadership in the youth parties, as well as to politicians with a more positive reputation. The collegial leadership elected last week in the PSRM shows that the fierce struggle between internal party groups continues, and the prolonged absence of unity of command can increase erosion and eventually, following the example of the Communists, lead a once large political project to collapse. So far, the only one who has decided on a more or less pronounced street protest against the current government is the Civic Congress. Last Friday, its supporters organized a rally against retroactive increases in gas and heating tariffs, calling on the government to stop the “energy famine”. As actual leader of the Civic Congress Mark Tkaciuk stated, a separate protest rally near the parliament building is aimed at awakening the “political conscience” of the rest of the dormant opposition. At the same time, the Civic Congress is trying to propose its own social initiative, which, according to the plan of the political formation, should become a driving force of protest and a prologue to a broad socio-political discussion. At the end of the year, the leaders of the Congress stated that the country needs a so-called Law on Life, which, in particular, will determine the principles of the tariff policy of the state and will allow moving away from the practice of calculating the subsistence minimum, which does not correspond to the real needs of the population. Metropolitan mayor Ion Ceban, who keeps picking fights with the central authorities, deserves special attention. The other day, he announced that the mayor’s office even plans to appeal in court the decision of the National Energy Regulatory Agency to raise tariffs from January 1. In addition, the head of the capital is preparing to enter the national level, having recently presented the National Alternative Movement. Presenting his political project, Ceban stated that Moldova needs an alternative force, which will, apparently, offer the voter something balanced, in terms of both strategic development and foreign policy choice. Most likely, such a hasty exit into a big political voyage was dictated by the existing domestic political circumstances, after evaluating which Ion Ceban’s team decided that it was time to get started. However, it all seems to be a false start, because there is simply nothing to analyze from the point of view of the ideological base and the project program content. It seems that Ceban would still have to wait for more favorable conditions, focusing so far on strengthening his mayoral positions and increasing affection from the capital dwellers. In general, if we look at the current opposition camp in its full scale, it is difficult to see great prospects. Deep personal distrust, fears and stereotypes keep almost all non-systemic politicians from determining the optimal format for consolidating efforts. In theory, political instincts should unite opposition parties around fresh alternative ideas (or at least against the government) to be able to become a real counterweight to the ruling party. However, most of the current opposition leaders, due to their ambitions, character and personal experience, are absolutely incapable of any rapprochement with representatives of the opposite political flank. Technically, the prospect of a general oppositional meeting can only appear if the “intra-party elevators” work. In this case, the bored images will be replaced by new faces capable of cooperating with their political opponents, regardless of their doctrinal views. So, considering the general state of the opposition camp, the current government has no special reasons for concern yet. So far, the government and the parliamentary majority have not yet committed such a critical number of mistakes that could push even the current motley and loose company of opposition forces to create a united protest front. However, further failures of the country’s leadership and the deterioration of the socio-economic situation in the country will inevitably breed social contempt and, accordingly, increase the demand of the population for new ideas and party projects. But it can leave not only PAS out, but also the current harmless oppositionists.