The Moldovan Population Is Not Impressed with PAS’ European Success. Why?

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According to recent opinion polls, the ratings of Maia Sandu and PAS continue to fall. Ironically, the number of those who support Moldova’s accession to the European Union has also decreased
Christian RUSSU, RTA: The ruling party has not been able to break the trend of a steady decline in its ratings. According to the results of a new sociological study conducted by iData, PAS could not even claim to lead in the case of parliamentary elections without the help of the diaspora, ranking second between the Bloc of Communists and Socialists and the Sor Party. However, Maia Sandu is still the most popular politician in the country, but she has lost several points compared to May. Her closest competitor, Igor Dodon, who is under house arrest, on the contrary, strengthened his position. This can also be interpreted to mean that the population is not very confident in the validity of the accusations brought against the former president. Which, after all the scandalous stories of Alexander Stoianoglo prosecution, the suspicious cancellation of the municipal elections in Balti, etc., is not particularly surprising. Sandu’s results, however, seem almost excellent, compared to those of her fellow members of the “ruling triad” Igor Grosu and Natalia Gavrilita which are practically at the level of statistical error. What conclusions does this suggest? It is worth specifying that things could have been much worse for the ruling party had it had a really competent opposition. Its main competitors are either weak and inert, or covered by the veil of corruption scandals, or even both. Socialists and communists have already become, roughly speaking, boring and unable to “motivate” the public for protest or civil opposition to the power. No other major projects are in sight either. Ion Ceban, the mayor of Chisinau, who tries to take a comfortable centrist position, does not show better in a real fight than his opponents from the ruling party, and the fare hike in the capital’s public transport will certainly make itself felt. On the other hand, however one may look at it, the fact remains that the population has little confidence in the two supreme authorities and many questions about their activity. Parliament has recently adopted many controversial bills: on the banning of St. George’s ribbons, on information security (dictatorship). This is not exactly what people are waiting for at the moment. The government is not even worth talking about – the country is in a dire socio-economic situation it still cannot manage. The team of ministers has been implicitly criticized even by PAS deputies, and Igor Grosu announced reshuffles in it in the near future. The third important point is that the presidency institution, headed by Maia Sandu, remains the linchpin of the entire PAS government. But this comes at a high cost. Essentially, the president is “cut off” from all the toxic topics that Grosu and Gavrilita have to deal with – hence the terrible ratings of the latter, while Sandu herself is given the now fertile foreign policy sector. Also, the President has taken on the role of the most neutral speaker, especially comparing to the Parliament Speaker. The problem is that this is no longer working very well. Sandu’s excuses that she learned about another lawlessness from the media won’t stop the public outrage with the alienation of the country’s leader from internal affairs. And the fourth one. The ruling party now has a natural breakthrough in the process of European integration – much bigger than the Association with the EU celebrated in 2014. Now we kind of got a real prospect of membership with new opportunities to use European financial funds and expert assistance, with a completely different attention of the EU institutions and leadership, as well as member states. However, this “breakthrough” somehow did not have a favorable effect on the level of public support for EU membership, which continues to decrease even now, in spite of everything. Probably the reason is that this time Brussels, as if apologizing for force majeure granting candidate status to Moldova and Ukraine, bypassing all the rules and requirements, does not particularly hide the fact that this action was purely symbolic. This idea is presented even more vividly in the large European media. Many political observers are calling the granted status “empty”. Everyone understands and does not particularly hide the fact that with the new status, Moldova is no closer to the EU – real accession to the Union still takes decades. That is, in fact, nothing special really happened for an ordinary citizen. But much worse, another reason for such a reaction of the society could be that the very governance of PAS discredits the process of European integration in the eyes of the population. After all, it was with European slogans that the party came to power and is consistently failing. “The path to the EU” was at the core of the advent of the “good times”, which quickly turned from a loud label into a mocking meme. People increasingly feel subject to another scam, a “success story 2.0”, regardless of how close to the truth actually it is. The ruling party would be well advised to think about how to convince citizens that this feeling is false and that there is light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel itself is too long. Otherwise, in the near future another team will come to lead Moldova on the path of European integration.