The ruling party approaches the first anniversary of its rule with disappointing results and a status of the main culprit for all the country’s troubles
A year ago, the Action and Solidarity Party won the early parliamentary elections. The PAS won 52.8 percent of the vote, winning 63 seats in the new legislative assembly. The party was just a few percent short of a constitutional majority, but even this solid result allowed it to form a unanimous majority, appoint its own government and begin exploring the country politically.
At the press conference, party leaders acknowledged that the PФS did not have a year in power that people expected. However, they urged voters to be patient to see the gradual transition from a crisis government to a government of growth. By the end of the summer, the current cabinet promises to initiate measures to support the population, including increases in wages and social benefits.
At the same time the PAS front men confidently declare that Moldova’s geopolitical wanderings are finally over, and our country is firmly anchored in the EU value and civilization field, oriented toward the Western democratic state development model. Obtaining the candidate status as well as the process of European integration itself is becoming absolutely irreversible.
This has not been an easy year for the ruling party. It had to deal with a series of difficult and unprecedented crises, some of which the current PAS managers instigated themselves. There have also been personnel scandals, reverberating to this day. Ill-conceived and poorly-thought-out management decisions have dealt a serious blow to the reputation of the party and its president. Just look at the whole affair with the Prosecutor General dismissal, which made even the European Court of Human Rights interested.
Last year’s parliamentary elections were most likely the peak in the popularity of the Action and Solidarity Party and President Maia Sandu personally. Subsequently, the data from both private and public opinion polls began to show a steady downward trend in their ratings. As a result, at the current stage in terms of aggregate indicators the left-wing parties enjoy more support than the pro-European political formations.
The opposition used the “anniversary” to sharply criticize the regime and demand that Natalia Gavrilita’s government resign. The results of the twelve months of the PAS “at the helm” are assessed by representatives of the opposition forces as a clear manifestation of professional incompetence, and the current government team as one of the weakest in the entire history of Moldova. One can partially agree with such a position, because obviously not all ministers and high-ranking officials cope with their duties. Therefore, at the end of the year staff reshuffles in the Cabinet of Ministers are almost inevitable, including due to the fact that the contradictions within the ruling team gradually start to spill out.
One cannot ignore the fact that, practically since last October, the country has been living in a state of endless emergency, due to the inability of government managers to make effective decisions in advance and avoid a state of permanent crisis and a growing number of challenges and risks. As a result, the cost of food and fuel has skyrocketed, natural gas prices have increased manifold, and annual inflation reached 31.83% in June, keeping us among the European “leaders”.
The armed conflict in Ukraine has become one of the strongest challenges and a serious test for Moldova. Here it is worth noting that despite limited resources, lack of experience in managing such situations and international support in the first months, the authorities overcame the refugee crisis more or less successfully.
The severe geopolitical fracture resulting from the events in Ukraine became a catalyst for such significant achievement as obtaining the status of a candidate country for accession to the European Union. The implementation of this important goal will require serious efforts, qualifications, professionalism, and the willingness of society to make drastic changes. And the experience of a minor higher education reform has already shown how difficult this path will be.
The PAS is criticized not only by the leftist opposition, but also by its former colleagues from the pro-European forces. The main complaint is that the incumbent authorities do not respond to the constructive proposals of the former comrades-in-arms and are completely isolated from the outside experts’ opinions. Apparently, their political egoism will lead them to political loneliness, although the next parliament will obviously require a coalition cooperation: to repeat last year’s result of the ruling party is almost unreal.
Admittedly, the PAS did not have the best moment in history, and all these crises eventually affected the government’s performance, which is struggling to stay afloat. After a year, despite the predominantly external origins of most of the acute problems, the Action and Solidarity Party and its appointed officials are nevertheless firmly entrenched as the culprits in all the difficulties that the Moldovan people have had to overcome of late.
If this trend continues, the PAS will become more popular in Washington and Brussels than in Moldova. Although the failures of the authorities have an impact not only on their own image, but also on the image of the Western partners, who bear their share of responsibility for the actions of the Moldovan leadership by providing them with financial assistance and political support, as well as a wide range of foreign advisers.
Summing up, we can admit that we have not seen the ‘good times’ promised by the PAS – on the contrary, the times have become worse. The parliament, the government, and the president definitely need to change something, because the overdose of individual power is beginning to affect them badly. European integration success is unlikely to become a worthy substitute for the basic needs of the population, who expect a more or less stable life and tangible practical results from the authorities in the first place. If the situation does not begin to change for the better, we may well see a leftist revanche, another freezing of the pro-European course, early elections, or even complete political bankruptcy of the political elites and of the entire country after it.