West Preparing to Replace the Ruling Party?

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Christian RUSSU
After PAS’ long monopoly, new right-wing political projects are gradually taking root in the country, not without the help of development partners. They do not yet have a clear objective of supporting the current regime or taking over the European integration banner, but the dwindling rating of the ruling party seems to be forcing its sponsors to rearrange their assets
After PAS’s convincing victory in the early parliamentary elections, the country’s right-wing political segment was essentially purged. The party leadership, represented by Maia Sandu and Igor Grosu, refused to share power with their former partners in the ACUM bloc, who were outside the parliament. The DA platform practically ceased to exist. Only some of its representatives managed to stay in the political ring for the past year and retain some electoral capital. Alexandr Slusari, for example, is among them. Other right-wing political projects, including those that supported Maia Sandu’s party in last year’s elections, have lost their identity. Therefore, the fall of PAS rating promises them nothing but political death. The sponsors of the current regime, which has seized all the power in the country, have already understood the consequences of this state of affairs. The PAS monopoly on the right flank, with its skyrocketing approval ratings, threatens to bring down all the achievements of the West over the past few years. If the forces on the left wing and in the center have regrouped in recent months (in addition to the Party of Development and Consolidation of Moldova of former Prime Minister Ion Chicu, there is the National Alternative Movement of Ion Ceban and the unifying opposition platform Common Agenda under the supervision of Mark Tkaciuc), the right wing is still under examination. When observing the representatives of our expert community, who are regularly given a platform by the media financed by Western countries, especially by Romania, our ex-Ambassador to the U.S. and ex-Parliamentarian from the DA Platform, Igor Munteanu, stands out a lot. The former diplomat and MP has constantly criticized the current administration for excessive softness and indecisiveness in decision making both in terms of foreign and domestic policy. He did not, of course, criticize indiscriminately, but he regularly voiced painful remarks about the “shortcomings” of the authorities, especially in terms of European integration, in his characteristic condescending tone. In June, he founded the “Committee for Unity and Well-Being” (CUB), positioned as a voluntary, civic, non-partisan initiative to take responsibility for Moldova’s European course. Munteanu then stated that "accession to the EU cannot be the business of one political party, and those intoxicated by such an idea are deluded. However, he did not want to talk about the intention of creating a political party at that time. But already in October Igor Munteanu’s formalized political ambitions and desire to re-train from civil activist and expert to politician became visible. The former director of the Institute of Development and Social Initiatives Viitorul published a manifesto in social networks, the essence of which was to help the current government to manage the country competently and to neutralize the pro-Kremlin forces of kleptocrats, represented by Shor and Plahotniuc. At the same time, he said that he “cannot confidently characterize the current government as competent because it is not”. On November 1, Munteanu announced the transformation of the civic initiative into the party “Coalition for Unity and Well-Being”. According to him, the new party will be liberal, center-right, pro-European, and affiliated with the European liberals ALDE/Renew Europe. One of its main goals will be to integrate our country into the community of European countries by 2030 by forming “spaces integrated with Romania, which will unite the efforts of the two states in a project of national unity.” It is important that Munteanu is not an ideological unionist, but a politician with very radical views on some fundamental principles of the foreign policy of Moldova. He is a supporter of the fast track accession to the EU according to the model of the Eastern European and Baltic countries through deepening of relations with NATO, an opponent of the Moldovan neutrality and negotiations with the Tiraspol authorities. At one time Igor Munteanu was one of the co-authors of the so-called Concept of red lines on the inadmissibility of any agreements with the Transdniestrian region. In 2016, he actively criticized the German presidency of the OSCE for supporting “small steps tactics” and pressure on the Moldovan authorities to sign agreements with Tiraspol on telephone connection, car numbers, etc. However, it seems that the same representatives of the Western political establishment, who once supported Maia Sandu’s party, today sponsor a competing political project on the right wing, led by Igor Munteanu. Here one can recall that back in 2019, in order to attract the Russian-speaking electorate, the leaders of the Action and Solidarity party decided to move closer to the center, declaring their support for constitutional neutrality and their willingness to negotiate on the Transdniestrian problem in the existing format with the participation of Russia. And despite all the changes in the political course of the authorities since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is still some inertia in the approaches of the ruling majority on these topics. Therefore, the fact that Western development partners are betting on more radical political projects in our country is an interesting phenomenon, confirming that they want to see Moldova as one of the springboards of the growing confrontation between the West and Russia.