Expert: PAS Will Have to Reshuffle the Government – or Dismiss If Needed

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Sergiu CEBAN
Discontent in society is growing, and some political predators are already trying to use this to weaken the ruling party’s standing. Reshuffling the government is one of the few ways to cool the protest wave, at least temporarily.  
Each day brings new internal problems, while it becomes increasingly difficult to blame their growing number only on external circumstances. Yet, the authorities try to show they have full control of the situation and even develop some measures to cushion the negative trends in the economy. The day before, the problem of the country’s food safety raised at the Supreme Security Council’s meeting was heeded by the president. The outcome of this meeting, including the proposal for sectoral measures, look more tangible than that of the previous SSC meeting which had only the setting up of two commissions in the parliament as its result. It seems that the sharp criticism, including from our side, was duly received, and the presidential office realized that the public wants to know about the ongoing steps to rectify the deplorable economic situation. Perhaps the protest movement, albeit still rather weak, also played a role. Igor Dodon’s detention finally shook the socialists from their long lethargy, and now the main opposition forces are staging a protracted marathon of protests against the current government and government. However, as observers correctly point out, on the one hand, the socialists are trying to mobilize all opposition forces to make the Cabinet resign, and on the other hand, the PSRM couldn’t even convince its communist partners to join the anti-government marches. Of course, despite the high level of dissatisfaction with the Cabinet’s policies, citizens are unlikely to rally under the socialist banner right now and vent their indignation, since Dodon’s supporters will try to use this in every way to politically rehabilitate the honorary PSRM chairman. One should understand that the people need completely different leaders and platforms to express their “righteous” anger. It seems not by chance that Andrei Nastase has stepped out from the shadows, as his advisers apparently decided that this was the right time. Interestingly, Nastase started with apologies for helping to bring Maia Sandu to the presidency, thereby completely disavowing their common past in the electoral bloc ACUM. Apparently, various political predators have sensed that power is gradually losing its grip and that the public’s indignation has reached the point when it is time to convert protest sentiments into political results. The authorities, of course, are trying to place the right people in key positions, but few foreign guests in law enforcement agencies (the Intelligence and Security Service or the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office) can hardly change the situation fundamentally. Just as it is not always possible to blame everything on the state system riddled with corruption, because the population is waiting for really effective measures in the economy to ensure that the standard of living is at least not worse, not to say that it should improve. Soon the PAS will mark its one year in power, which will finally strip the current government of the prefix “new” and prompt them to assume full responsibility for their mistakes, with no allowance for “a heavy legacy” of the predecessors. That is why a personnel reshuffle in the government team should be the first step of the country’s leadership. This might help contain the growing anti-government sentiment and reduce social tension which, given the current dynamics, will inevitably have political effects. There is no logic in trying to retain the current cabinet structure when the parliamentary majority has room for maneuver and staff replacements, given the systematic failures in certain areas. However, it seems that the top leadership has not reached a consolidated position yet, and internal disputes are still underway. On the one hand, speaker Igor Grosu argues that the prime minister should evaluate the work of her subordinates, to be followed by a decision on certain reshuffles. On the other hand, Natalia Gavrilita firmly states that she does not plan any resignations in the government, because the country is in a deep crisis, and now is not the right time for staff changes. Despite the Prime Minister’s thoughtless statements, which further anger the public, much of the discontent is associated with the government’s economic bloc. It is not only about Minister Sergiu Gaibu. There are a lot of questions to Andrei Spinu (especially to the way he had “arranged it” with Gazprom), and in general, to the Ministry of Regional Development which he heads and which the public has long dubbed “a small government”. There were many expectations from the justice reform, promoted by the head of the Ministry of Justice Sergiu Litvinenco with the support of the head of the parliamentary legal commission Olesea Stamate. Relevant experts and our foreign partners believe that this issue is the cornerstone that largely determines the future prospects for building a truly democratic state. However, the ruling party’s careful policy making and extensive lawmaking ended up with an awkward and resisting system that impedes the reforms. Ms. Iuliana Cantaragiu is also predicted to lose her ministerial portfolio in the near future. She is mainly accused of the fact that the Ministry of Ecology acts virtually as the main lobbyist of the interests of the metallurgical plant in Ribnita, totally forgetting about ecology in the country. The truth is obviously somewhere in between, but the fact that the minister has already got burned on the resonant topic is quite obvious, so she can be considered one of the candidates for dismissal. What people really need is to be certain that the Cabinet keeps the situation under control and does everything in its power, as much as possible under the current circumstances. Citizens’ opinions should not be ignored, and those who think they are top-notch professionals and do not feel the need to explain anything to the public should immediately leave the government offices. So, occasional protests will also be useful to bring the authorities down to earth and force them to re-examine their plans and ways of achieving their goals. Apart from the internal circumstances, it is necessary to take into account the external factors which can have a strong demoralizing effect on the authorities and society. Brussels’ refusal to grant candidate status to Moldova can greatly undermine the already fragile internal political balance in the country, because, let’s be clear, people and politicians have very high European aspirations. Any “consolation prize” in the form of interim or provisional status can be a detonator that, to say the least, will lead to the complete resignation of the current government.