Complete cleansing of the authorities with no sufficient personnel reserve of the ruling party threatens to paralyze the public administration system
Even before the victory of the Action and Solidarity party in last year's parliamentary elections experts called, the personnel issue to be one of the weakest spots of the new government. As expected, the electoral statements that everyone willing to work under the new rules will remain in the departments were far from reality. In fact, PAS acted harshly and sort of “radically”, showing with all its appearance and actions that persons from previous corrupt regimes could not count on getting into the “new times”. This naturally led to the fact that within just a few months an unprecedented “personnel drought” occurred in the state authorities. Apparently, no one sees how to overcome it yet.
Now that the pre-election period has given way to a more than dynamic working rhythm, in practice it turned out that the appointees from the party in power are not such “good people” that looked at us from billboards. There is no need to search for examples: the scandalous decision of the Minister of Culture to financially “encourage” his next of kin or the story of the ombudsman’s assistant Natalia Mosolag, convicted of procuring and eventually forced to resign, immediately pop up.
However, these are cases where the authorities still pretend to respect the rules of decency and pay attention to public sentiment. If it concerns more serious institutions, such as the National Anticorruption Center (NAC), then the story may drag on for a long time, so much so that Igor Dodon’s closest associate was in the chair of the department until November 2021. As a result, the parliament vacated the position and prudently amended the law to cancel the competitive procedure for selecting the leadership of the NCBC. Very convenient. So, this month, a “good man” who gained experience as Secretary of state from one of the PAS leaders, Justice Minister Sergiu Litvinenco, was already appointed director.
The heavy clouds are constantly hanging over the current government: a week cannot go by without news about its imminent resignation, full or partial. Several ministers have long been included in the “firing squad” list. Natalia Gavrilita is forced to deny such rumors every time, but their very existence in no way adds confidence to her or her colleagues. Obviously, there is no smoke without fire. Yes, even such leaks from the presidential administration may be intentional in order to discipline the current government team, which undoubtedly does not quite effectively manage to fulfill its obligations.
It should be noted that the personnel turnover continues in the presidency itself, where last week the former colleague of Maia Sandu in the government, Vladimir Filat, was brought out of the shadow. This is Dorin Recean, who simultaneously became Secretary of the Security Council and adviser to the President in defense and national security. The ex-Interior Minister has long been considered a secret adviser to the head of state, who advised Sandu, including on personnel issues. It is possible that the current position is an interim decision and Recean will still return to the leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. After all, the current Minister of Internal Affairs, Ana Revenco, manages her duties very badly.
Most likely, when forming the personnel of the government from among the trusted members of the Action and Solidarity party, the main task was to place the right people on the high level of power, and they do not necessarily have to be solid professionals, but to be the guides of the country’s new political course. However, in fact, the PAS personnel policy, based on total distrust of the state system, led to such deep sweeps in the authorities that the new ministers were left without professional support, etc. “institutional memory”, which resulted in constant mistakes and failures.
Thus, the cadre development of the party in power went along a classic path for our country. Loyal people from among those who ensured Maia Sandu’s victory first during the presidential race, and then the success of the Action and Solidarity party in the early parliamentary elections were employed for vacant positions in central bodies and on the ground. However, it is unlikely that the resource of party functionaries will be enough to fill all the empty departmental niches, also taking into account the increasing personnel need for the rotation of managers and specialists who failed to cope with the tasks.
It has also been found out in practice that it is impossible to satisfy the personnel hunger of representatives of the non-governmental sector. They may be as honest and hardworking people as they can with an impeccable reputation, but the lack of bureaucratic practice, skills and proper qualifications can lead to the opposite effect. The example of Ana Revenco may be, of course, an isolated one, but so far it looks the most expressive, enhancing doubts that experts from civil society organizations fit for senior leadership positions.
The fact that vacancy keep increasing is most likely due not to the lack of specialists, but to the criteria and conditions that are set by the proteges of the Action and Solidarity party as fundamental requirements if they want to get a job in a particular department. And this already threatens extremely serious consequences. In our Moldovan realities, the appointment of one or another candidate for a high post is almost always associated with the risk of forming closed corporate groups around a particular state body that subordinate the department to their specific interests.
The current personnel confusion has not yet led to an entire state system freeze-up, however, if the current state of things remains, over time the weakness and de-professionalization of the bureaucratic apparatus will lead to systemic failures and irreversible processes for the country. Therefore, the current authorities should take into account one immutable rule: a weak team is always weak state institutions, and as a result, a weak country.
The opposition camp feels the current government’s weak spot. That is why the Party of Socialists decided to launch a project of a personnel reserve school to train a team of 100 people, which, according to the authors, will be able to take over any department after the removal of the Action and Solidarity party from power. Still, the main threat right now is not the restoration of the regime of communists or socialists, but that the post-Soviet system may be reborn in new “good people”, and Moldova will again lose its chance for radical changes.