«Dramatic Dip» in the Ratings of Maia Sandu and PAS

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Sergui CEBAN
By the recent opinion polls presented in Bucharest, the president and the ruling party are losing the confidence of the country’s population at an alarming rate
One of the most important political events this week should be the next joint meeting of the governments of Moldova and Romania, which will be held in Chisinau on February 11. It is planned that this will not be just a ritualized “get-together”: several major agreements are being prepared for signing, including the construction of a new bridge over the Prut, gratuitous financial assistance in the amount of 100 million euros and the abolition of roaming charges. It would seem that this is an important step to strengthen friendship between the two countries and a good opportunity to determine the next block of directions where further rapprochement will take place. However, the background for the intergovernmental meeting, which promised to be quite favorable, was suddenly poisoned, moreover, by an event held in Bucharest. There, a number of well-known researchers from Moldova and Romania presented the results of another sociological survey conducted by CBS Research commissioned by IDIS Viitorul and the Romanian Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations. According to the data presented, the main problem of concern to our citizens now is a sharp rise in prices. More than 70% of respondents are alarmed by this. More than 60% of the population are dissatisfied with the low level of wages and pensions, for 29% the lack of employment opportunities is an urgent problem. About 30% of the inhabitants of our country complain of poverty. The five main problems are closed by corruption, which is dissatisfied with about 16% of those who took part in the survey. Against this background, there was a sharp drop in Maia Sandu’s personal rating, whom only 16% of citizens is ready to support today. By the way, about 10% continue to believe in Igor Dodon. At the same time, almost all current politicians, both among the leadership and the opposition, “settle” for an extremely high anti-rating, which exceeds 50% for everyone. At this time, the mayor of the capital Ion Ceban continues to increase his electoral potential and, as the survey data show, in total, he is trusted the most. The current party preferences of citizens are no less interesting. So, if the parliamentary elections were held next Sunday, 25% of respondents would vote for the Bloc of Communists and Socialists, while only 22.7% of respondents are ready to vote for the current party of power. Despite the efforts of the authorities, the SOR party continues to hold a confident third place with a result of 8.1%. At the same time, about 14% of citizens would not go to the polls, and more than 23% of respondents were undecided about who they were ready to vote for. Taking into account the upcoming meeting of the Moldovan and Romanian Cabinet of Ministers, it is worth paying attention to several parameters. In particular, respondents highly appreciated the level of Moldovan-Romanian relations: 8% consider them very good, 39% - quite good, 36% - neither good nor bad. At the same time, at present, just over a third of Moldovan citizens are ready to vote for union with the neighboring country. According to the authors of the survey, the trend is such that since 2010 the number of citizens supporting the merger of the two states has increased from 3% to 35%, that is, more than tenfold. By the way, recent polls in Romania itself have shown that the overwhelming majority of Romanians – 75% – are in favor of integration with our country. The conclusions from these figures are quite obvious. The first alarm signals for the current government appeared at the end of last year. And the ongoing cataclysms in the energy sector, which negatively affect the socio-economic situation of citizens and businesses, have only strengthened the trend towards a decrease in confidence in the president, the government and the parliament. Of course, we can count on the fact that the situation in the energy markets will stabilize by the summer, but signals of displeasure from Gazprom do not give reasons for optimism. A number of experts predicted this “apocalyptic case-scenario”, but still such a sharp and rapid fall of the current government in less than six months was a big surprise for most experts and political scientists who expected a smoother decline in the rating of the president and the parliamentary majority. In general, we can talk about the complete disillusionment of citizens with the political class of the country and the loss of confidence in almost all Moldovan politicians. At the same time, the appearance of such a survey this week, at least, does not seem to be accidental. The involvement of the well-known Moldovan research institute IDIS Viitorul, closely associated with the DA Platform, indicates the presence of a certain political background in this whole story. What is happening confirms the hypothesis of the existence of several competing groups in Bucharest, who see the model of relations with Chisinau differently, betting on different political forces in our country. Interpreting the results of their survey, the experts present from Bucharest and Chisinau tried to convey to the audience of both countries, in fact, one simple idea: Moldova is in the deepest crisis with a stagnating state system. And the only country capable of providing real help and support is Romania. Apparently, this is how the authors of the study decided to push the Moldovan leadership to a much greater openness in relations with Bucharest on the eve of the intergovernmental meeting. In addition, the publication of the survey results is consistent with the attacking line that the leaders of the DA Platform have been actively pursuing in recent months. And this gives its results, because, judging by the survey data, almost 35% of voters have already been brought out from under the party in power to the “undecided”. In case of further deterioration of the situation, these citizens will look for an alternative pro-European political force, which, by the way, will pursue a much more confident course towards rapprochement with Romania. As one of the experts correctly noted, Maia Sandu decided to challenge geopolitics, pretending that it does not exist, and it cannot exert any influence on the new course of development of Moldova. But in the end, it was the Kremlin’s geopolitical weapon, coupled with the professional weakness of the PAS management team, that nailed the power rating to the ground and destroyed the image of “good people who can change lives for the better”. So far, the situation is not fatal, mainly due to the fact that the next national elections are still far away. Therefore, the entire management unit needs to comprehend what they have come to and radically change the strategy. It is possible that if the situation fails to somehow straighten, the president will very soon still have to make the first sacrifices – for example, sacrifice the current government in an attempt to blame all the failures on it, thus officially recognizing the disastrous results of the first stage of the PAS government.