Expert: Centrist Forces Return to Moldova’s Political Arena

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As the country’s crisis deepens and PAS popularity declines, public demand for moderate political projects grows rapidly
Sergiu CEBAN, RTA: Last week, MPs were called back from leave early to participate in an extraordinary parliamentary session. This decision, they say, was made in order to quickly consider legislation to support the population, state institutions and companies in a possible energy crisis. The political autumn in the country is expected to be very tense, so people’s deputies should really hurry up with measures to mitigate the consequences of the multiple crises that have befallen Moldova. Along with the rapidly deteriorating socio-economic situation, protest sentiments among the population are obviously growing. In this context, extra-parliamentary forces have noticeably revived, and they are capturing the growing interest of citizens in alternative political projects. In addition, parties are gradually beginning to prepare for the local elections next fall. Just take a look at Renato Usatii’s public appearance on Independence Day, stating his readiness to return to politics, if the voter so wishes. The activity of the Democratic Party’s Honorary Chairman, Dumitru Diacov, is no less interesting. He suddenly decided to conduct an audit of the centrist forces in the country and gather their representatives under the old or, perhaps, new banners, together with the PDM reserves that remained under his control. The idea to unite several parties allegedly emerged after European socialists and democrats could not find a political partner in our country, and PAS and communists and socialists, in his opinion, are not able to unite their efforts for the development of Moldova. While the honorary Democrat Diacov was assessing his political outlook, the Democratic Party’s current leadership opened a branch of the Social Democratic Party of Romania in its office in the capital. Acting Chairwoman Monica Babuc said that the Romanian party’s branch in Chisinau will help establish a “strategic partnership” between the two parties. In addition, she stressed that she did not respond to Diacov’s invitation, who was clearly playing his own game. It seems that at the September 17 PDM National Council meeting, we can expect a major intra-party split, after which some party members will leave the toxic PDM. While the Democrats are deciding on their political future, the expected “shot” was made by Ion Ceban, who decided to launch his newly formed movement in full force and try it out in practice. Local elections are traditionally a dress rehearsal before the main presidential or parliamentary race. Ceban postponed the official start until the right circumstances, realizing the certain duality of his political background and wishing to give his creation an exclusively pro-European shape. Judging by his statements, first of all he is aiming at the centrist electorate, disappointed with the current government. That is, he is counting on voters with moderate pro-European views and not in the mood for a violent confrontation with Moscow. Admittedly, the decision of many forces to go to the central political sector seems quite natural. Amid the deepening crisis in the country, as well as PAS’s declining popularity, most parties have a chance to attract a large segment of discontent and/or undecided citizens who are looking for new “spokespeople” for their interests. Besides, many are calculating a scenario where the current government decides to take radical measures and possibly outlaw the Sor and PSRM parties (although they have never spoken out strongly against the country’s pro-European course) based on accusations and convictions of illicit financing. In such a scenario, a strong centrist movement would be needed to win over the disengaged leftist pro-Russian electorate without losing the pragmatically pro-European part of the electorate. Of course, in the last parliamentary elections the political center suffered a complete failure, causing the legislature to divide into two ideologically extreme camps. These are the left-wing forces (BoCS and Sor) and the right-wing PAS, which won the elections at the expense of the centrist and unionist votes, among others. Such an imbalance in the parliament certainly affects the political life of the country, and a return of centrist formations to the political scene would be desirable. Until 2017, the political center was represented by the PDM, which tried to balance geopolitically, alternately promoting military neutrality and a balanced foreign policy, both pro-Western and anti-Russian paths. The gradual withdrawal of the Democratic Party from the game created an obvious vacuum in this segment that has not yet been properly filled.  It is clear that the centrists have no political future with the former leaders of the PDM. What is needed are credible new names, new ideas and messages that people will be ready to follow. If potential players in the central political arena fail to intelligently approach the voters with enticing electoral proposals, they are unlikely to be able to fundamentally alter the local elections, much less the parliamentary ones. A number of experts link the current political revival not only to the long-term plans of some forces, but also to the possible early dissolution of parliament as early as this fall. Ion Ceban “activation” of, who is associated with certain Russian forces, and the uproar among the democrats don’t look accidental: it is these characters who can count on serious resource support to accelerate their involvement in the early election marathon.