Protests in Moldova: Too Many “Buts”

Home / Analytics / Protests in Moldova: Too Many “Buts”
Sergiu CEBAN
Despite all the difficulties, PAS still has a firm footing. It is hard to imagine the ruling party displaced from the political Olympus merely through protests.
Since late summer, there have been protests in Chisinau by small but well-organized (mostly by the Sor party) groups. Eventually, these protests have the potential to grow into something more massive. We will see to what extent this Sunday at the “general” rally without party flags by scheduled the Sor party members. However, most politicians dissatisfied with the current government are not eager to leave their comfort zone, expressing their grievances in social media and on TV, rather than on the city streets. Apparently, they fear the fate of the main oppositionists, whose arrests have not had a particularly negative impact on the ruling party. Igor Dodon and Marina Tauber’s routine intimidations, and the opposition’s threats to bring down the current government under the pressure of rising prices, inflation and gas tariffs, have had very little effect. People expect actions, not words. Moscow also keeps threatening with its energy bludgeon, probably holding out hope that the begging visitors from Chisinau will eventually come to the Russian capital. But our leadership is firm in its no-point-in-going-to-Moscow position. Only the head of Moldovagaz will go to Gazprom for reconnaissance. In the coming weeks, it will become clearer to what extent the Kremlin strategists expect, if not to split the Moldovan internal political stability, then to swing the social pendulum. A possible “agricultural front” didn’t impress the authorities either. Representatives of a number of farmers’ associations delivered an ultimatum to the Prime Minister with a demand to organize a meeting before September 12, but received a flat refusal. Now the initiative group of farmers will have to decide how to arrange an “agricultural riot”, but it is already clear that no tractors will appear in the capital. Meanwhile, rumors about the possible resignation of Natalia Gavrilita’s government turned out to be an exaggeration. Apparently, PAS doesn’t want to incur additional reputational costs by dismissing its cabinet after a year and thus confirming the validity of the opposition’s criticism. The President and the Speaker dismissed all intrigues, tempering the ambitions of certain entourage favorites. Yet, judging by the statements of the party leaders and the prime minister himself, personnel reshuffles will still take place, but the main body of the government seems to be guaranteed political immunity at least until the end of the year. The government really needs to have personnel changes, since the population has a lot of questions about specific agencies and their leaders. It is obvious that in addition to the regional situation, part of the responsibility for the problems in the country lies with the Cabinet of Ministers. This is especially true of the financial and economic bloc, which is likely to be partially demolished in the near future. One must admit that the personnel purges were expected back in July or August, when the results of the 12 months of work of the current government were summed up. However, Natalia Gavrilita still decided to take the path of layoffs on the eve of the most difficult and responsible part of the work in the autumn-winter period. Also, in this way the Prime Minister is trying to convey the message to the population that she is not giving up, and that she wants to strengthen the government team just before the toughest trials on the basis of the organizational conclusions. The ruling party, for all its apparent turbulence, is in fact not that hopeless. Moreover, given the events in Ukraine, the risk of destabilization from the outside has decreased considerably. Of course, a set of internal factors can still “trigger” non-standard crisis situations, and not necessarily only in the energy sector, which is now in the spotlight. For example, the Transdniestrian region causes increased interest not so much from Chisinau but from Kyiv, which has long wanted to remove any threats in the rear and to release part of the forces concentrated in the central part of the border with Moldova. Therefore, it is quite logical that our authorities have recently increased attention to the Transdniestrian issue and talk about the need to resolve the conflict as soon as possible, but only peacefully. In other words, the current power, despite all the “blows” from the opposition, has not collapsed yet, but, on the contrary, is regrouping and strengthening its monopoly position. The pro-Russian forces, on the other hand, are probably counting on their own revenge, since they are unlikely to mobilize enough people to overthrow the regime. The pro-European development model that was reinstalled in Moldova last year relies on a significant number of Moldovan voters, and its support has not fallen to a critical mark. If there is a rotation in power in the next few years, it will occur only from among the pro-Western political forces and only in a regime controlled, including by Western partners. Looking at all the desperate attempts to topple PAS from the political Olympus through the prism of the current legislation, unlike the government, the parliament has no right to resign on its own. Convincing Maia Sandu to go for a full electoral reset is very unlikely. The ruling majority will most certainly sit out the remaining three years, and the opposition will have no choice but to continue pressing, criticizing, and picking on mistakes in order to somehow keep the government (and itself) in line – but no more than that. As for the overthrow of the government by force, such attempts are practically devoid of any prospects. Theoretically speaking, the appearance of a “pro-Russian” leadership in Chisinau would be a great threat both to our neighbors Romania and Ukraine, as well as to the European Union, which simply would not allow such scenarios. Moldova is already too firmly embedded into the Euro-Atlantic frontline zone and is penetrated by such control mechanisms and “safety belts”, which will provide it with almost hundred-percent social and political stability even in the most difficult socio-economic situation. Therefore, if the internal political situation in Moldova even slightly tilts, with the joint efforts of Bucharest, Kyiv and Brussels, it will be leveled very quickly. Moscow, on the other hand, which seems to have re-engaged in our domestic political games, does not learn from its mistakes, continuing to be guided by a very superficial perception of the political structure of the states that are its so-called near abroad. Moldova is a vivid example of this, on which the Kremlin smashes its forehead time and again, without even trying to change its strategy and look at the Moldovan domestic political landscape more professionally.