Who Is the “Opposition Conglomerate” Going to Oppose?

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Semyon ALBU
The consolidation of the center-left opposition forces in Moldova is long overdue, but paradoxically it can serve the purpose of conserving the ruling regime rather than destroying it
As expected, hard times have fallen for PAS since autumn-winter. According to recent polls, the majority of citizens want early elections and a change of leadership. And also neutrality, not to join NATO and Romania. That is, our “desires” run completely counter to those of Maia Sandu and her party, which are throwing the country into a geopolitical embargo, not taking into account the losses this entails. While our top officials are endlessly touring the West, holding hundreds of meetings that have no sense for the interests of the people, a real fire is burning at home in Moldova and the authorities usually put out with gasoline. The most striking example is, of course, the energy sector. The blatant sabotage of the gas contract with Russia, about which even respectable, not pro-Kremlin experts are already talking, put Moldova on a new deadline, October 20. If Gazprom fails to find goodwill for us this time, the country will have to buy gas on the spot markets at completely insane prices. And not just gas, but electricity as well, which is also a problem. How much we wrote about how risky it was to bet on imports from Ukraine during the war, but who is listening to these experts? And when “the rooster finally bit”, we had to hastily buy the missing amount from Romania at a “special humanitarian price”. But it turned out to be significantly higher even than the Ukrainian price. And what if we will have to buy not a third, but all the hundred percent? After all, without Russian gas, the left bank would not be able to produce and supply us with cheap electricity. Will we increase the tariffs again for the twentieth time? As they say, this Moldovan citizen will pay for everything. And this is only the energy sector. I do not speak about the corrupt schemes that blossom and smell, about the reincarnation of the “seized state”, about the repressive changes of the legislation, about which even the most loyal to the authorities human rights defenders cannot keep silent any longer. Undivided power, impunity because of the deliberate blindness of the West, and the endless pat on the shoulder from development partners have led to a situation in which the ruling party has completely lost touch with reality and gone haywire. In any other truly democratic country, this illiterate and discredited government would have been torn to shreds by its political opponents. In our country, unfortunately, the opposition has been chosen to rival its arch-enemies. While the PAS is in full swing building an authoritarian regime with elements of totalitarianism, the opposition resembles a pack of harmless mongrels, more barking at each other than at the “yellow thief” who broke into the house. Even the Socialists and the Communists – for the moment, members of one parliamentary bloc – clash. Not to mention the rest of us. It is therefore not surprising that so far only one party, Sor, has been taking people to the streets. Its maneuvers in this field raise many doubts among experts, even on our portal. Some even see it as a deal with the authorities. But, be that as it may, the fact is that so far only Sor has succeeded in shaping any kind of opposition to the authorities – tent encampments are growing in the center of the capital, and every weekend many thousands of people gather to protest. This action was quite successful – there were noticeably more people than before, and a lot of specifics appeared – a set of demands to the government, deadlines for their fulfillment, promises of active measures in case of no reaction. In general, it was already something like that. Of course, when a leading opposition figure is admittedly involved in the biggest bank robbery in the country’s history, it adds no sympathy either for his political force or for the protests. But apparently, even such a person looks better to many people than the “party of yellow misanthropists”. And then, by a strange coincidence, the “whole opposition ranks” decided to set aside their differences for a while and get together to talk. At the suggestion of Ion Dron, lawyer and chairman of the party For People, Nature and Animals, the “cream of the crop” of the center-left flank gathered at one table: Vlad Batrincea and his PSRM comrades, Ion Chicu and Ion Ceban, Civil Congress leader Mark Tkaciuk, and some other slightly less prominent, but no less respected figures. Their goal is a noble one: to form a national agenda for the country. What do they propose? The idea of the alliance is to become a “factory of political ideas” on how to improve Moldova. And also the generator of joint actions – from legislative initiatives to protests and “national discussions”. So far, the participants have agreed to meet every week and to think how to solve the problems of the country, first of all the energy crisis, the rise in prices and tariffs, the authorities’ trampling of civil rights, etc. On paper, everything looks beautiful. How long before the elections we called upon the left wing to unite to confront the “yellow plague” that is advancing. And then, as if by a stroke of a button, bam, and all are at one table. They are prominent people: a popular mayor with great ambitions, an ex-prime minister, a technocrat, Dodon’s heir and leader of the largest opposition party, and last but not least, Tkaciuk, a bright intellectual. If we take them all in a vacuum, this could really work. But putting all of this into our reality raises even more questions than the Sor protests. First, the very assembly of such a motley crew. Only the big international players in our country usually manage to combine the unconnected, for example, ACUM with PSRM. And this time, too, we could not do without outside influence, as discussed below. Second, time. As soon as the ruling party became very bad and, against this background, the current protests began to approach their logical catharsis, the entire center-left camp suddenly united to... repeat after the authorities that the protests were put together by semi-criminal elements? Are they sure they feel the mood of the moment? After all, no matter how anyone feels about Sor, the primary goal of any opposition leader right now should be early elections and liquidation of the parliamentary monomajority. And after that, it’s up to you to decide who’s the thief and who rules. The way I personally see it. The growing protest of Sor is clearly supported by one of the conditional “Kremlin towers” which gives him multifaceted support for Russia: he allows him to speak in the major Russian media, regularly informationally attacks Maia Sandu, ensures exclusive access of Orhei enterprises to the Russian market, warmly receives him in Moscow, etc. But there is also another “tower” which for many years has staked on the party of socialists, and after realizing their inevitable failure has tried to diversify the portfolio of loyal forces. And now, one of these forces must have “sold” to this “tower” the idea of an oppositional conglomerate, unlike Sor, which is untainted, solid, and capable, on paper, of truly being a non-populist counterbalance to the ruling party. But in this case, consciously or not, she acts as a “double agent”, actually in the interests of the ruling party. And this conglomerate will in fact work for the preservation of the regime, not for its destruction. Judge for yourself: the position of the PAS, while seemingly solid, is very risky. The package of problems in the country is already so heavy that the handles will sooner or later break by themselves, and then there are the Sor protests dragging it down. And the ruling party has an unenviable choice – either tolerate them in the hope of reversing the trend (which we have so far seen), or go completely out of control, screwing everyone and banning the Sor party – and such escalation still do not know how it will turn out. But there is a third option – to poke other oppositionists. Divide and rule! Moreover, all these opposition figures have long been under a pencil and powerful pressure of judicial threats. It is he who can organize protests from the safety of Israeli soil, while the rest are here, on the ground, completely accessible to all the punitive actions of the PAS. So the majority of the leftist opposition has been sitting quietly and unnoticed, waging a battle with the authorities mainly on their pages in the social networks. The authorities were perfectly happy with this heat of the battle. But now the deal is simple: all of them are invited to become a kind of “system opposition” with the right to vote, but gently and safely for the authorities, to sink the current protests, and in exchange – immunity for prosecution and survival in the political arena of the country in conditions of an authoritarian-totalitarian regime. How close my version is to the truth will be seen when the “Common Agenda” platform becomes more and more active. I really hope that I’m wrong and that the opposition of all stripes will find the wisdom to stop fighting with each other and at least temporarily work together for the good of the country, which is now going over the edge due to the fault of Maia Sandu and PAS.