Tough Questions for the Opposition

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Christian RUSSU
The leaked damaging messages of the ruling party’s officials and ideologues should have provided an opportunity for the opposition forces to voice their criticism, and, even better, to take decisive action against the government. However, ten days after the first leaks, the chances of such a consolidation look very slim, and questions for the opposition are piling up
“Sor’s Fading Out” Just a few weeks ago the confrontation between the government and the opposition was on everyone’s lips. The street protests were gaining momentum, and there was a strong feeling that their inspirers had a clear script for rocking the situation in the country. And this script was getting closer to being implemented with each passing week: the rating of the Sor party leaders was growing steadily, as was the “degree” of protest. The protesters in the center of the capital attempted to break through the police cordons, and it was possible to observe the retaliatory use of force by the police on live television. This was followed by mass arrests and retaliatory protests near the buildings of the Prosecutor General’s Office and other security agencies. Meanwhile, rank-and-file police officers were pressured in the style of “color revolutions”. But the latest protest, unusually organized on Friday, looked subdued. It was as if the crowd did not have an understanding of what to do. Nothing happened over the weekend, and it is unlikely that it was just bad weather. The organizers of the protests announced a change in strategy, with plans to move everything to a weekday, when the government offices are open. What was the real reason for the hasty suspension of the attack on the government by the Sor party remains unclear. Threats of arrests and even imprisonment had not frightened, but on the contrary, only inflamed them before. The theory and practice of political science suggest that forces that refuse to use such a powerful tool as protests are doomed to defeat. Of course, if we are talking about the real opposition, striving for power, and not “imitators” of such zeal. I remember that there was a time when European officials came regularly to unite the disparate right-wing forces, mired in a series of internal scandals, in the face of a common enemy (the Communists), which resulted in the so-called “alliances for European integration”. Their main way of fighting for power was through protests. In the overthrow of Vlad Plahotniuc, the international players were in charge, but the importance of the long-lasting protests undermining the regime should not be underestimated either. Of course, the left political flank has always been “hard to unite”. But why do the main oppositionists who dominate the Moldovan TV channels refuse to move from empty words to actions? At the very least, the blatant machinations of the “contest” to select the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor and the political pressure on the members of the Supreme Council of Prosecutors should have been the signal for protests demanding the resignation of Veronica Dragalin, Sergiu Litvinenco and other officials involved in this scandal. However, the only ones who made this statement loudly were the prosecutors themselves, both current and former, because they are well aware of the consequences of a complete takeover of the justice system. Moreover, PAS is not going to deviate from this course. The other day Olesea Stamate, head of the specialized parliamentary commission and former Minister of Justice, admitted that even if the reform of the sector was progressing slower than planned, but the authorities would still go all the way, using the filter of invented “pre-vetting”, even if then there would be simply nobody to work in this sector. Tkaciuk. The “Double Agent” The position of the “intelligent opposition”, the Civic Congress, which pretends not to notice the publication of evidence of abuses and political corruption, is very interesting. The Civic Congress, as part of the “Common Agenda” platform, is deeply immersed in the study of the amendments to the Electoral Code initiated by the PAS, and, apparently, Mark Tkaciuk’s supporters have no other plans. The other day Mihail Poleanschi, a representative of the formation, spoke passionately about the way they managed to uncover the authorities’ insidious plans to rig the electoral system by appointing CEC members and introducing e-voting – and the way they expect to counter it with the help of their international partners. It turns out that in recent weeks, the participants in the “Common Agenda” have been very active: holding expert hearings, preparing their opinion on the draft amendments to the Electoral Code, requesting the opinion of the Venice Commission on this matter. Somehow, they even managed to get some preliminary recommendations. In other words, the Civic Congress has chosen for itself and suggests that other opposition forces follow the scenario of the next election, which seems to be the most optimistic scenario for the current government. According to their logic, before discussing the protest actions, it is necessary to thoroughly study the matter, discuss it with experts, develop a program, appeal to international institutions... In short, to “bury” the issue. In addition, here is the opinion of the Venice Commission that the so-called Pre-Vetting Commissions in the judiciary, created by the party of power, are outside the law and should not replace the existing institutions. If they wished, connoisseurs of the opinion of this international body in the Civic Congress could have used it as an opportunity for a reasoned polemic with the authorities in the street squares, but for some reason this topic did not interest Mark Tkaciuk’s comrades-in-arms. We would understand if human rights activists, non-governmental organizations, and expert centers specializing in the field of law, but not opposition parties, were to come forward with such messages. Especially those whose leadership is composed of figures with revolutionary struggle experience, like Tkaciuk himself. There is no doubt that after the publication of messages from the telegram account of Vadim Pistrinciuc, an informal advisor to the current government, the shadow of great distrust hung over Mark Tkaciuk and the Civil Congress with the “Common Agenda” they were promoting. Suspicions that the whole thing was a kind of “Trojan Horse” were there from the beginning, and now they are indirectly confirmed. However, what stops Mark from disassociating himself from cooperation with those close to the government and turning to protest actions? We believe that many may perceive the silence of the party in this situation as evidence of political death. Is this the goal of the opposition force? Dodon’s Changing Rhetoric Not long ago, while under house arrest, continuous pressure and even physical threats, former president Igor Dodon would state bluntly that the PSRM should back the protests and that all opposition politicians should unite. Meanwhile, the socialists’ position was not clear to him, and if in freedom, he would have “joined people in their protests”. However, the day before he was released, Dodon as usual changed his mind saying that he would never go to the protests of the Sor or any other party, other than those organized by the PSRM. Departure from the previous “unification” rhetoric is not clear, especially if we look at the latest ratings of public trust in the government and the opposition. The September and October surveys show that early elections could even provide a constitutional majority in the parliament for the Socialists, Communists and the Sor MPs. Anyway, Igor Dodon released from custody and returning to policy does not bode well for the Socialists. The party, already on the path of image purification, has only recently recovered. There is no leadership monopoly in it so far, and this gives opportunities for many deputies to prove themselves. The PSRM kicked off protests in the regions and organized creative flash mobs in front of the presidency. On the other hand, the socialist leaders continue to be haunted by the criminal cases initiated under the current authorities. It is therefore unlikely that the ex-president resuming his duties would help in any way, but at the same time, it can undermine all efforts to restore the party’s political name and people’s trust. As for PAS, bringing Dodon into the game is comparable to introducing a new, though failed, variable into an existing mathematical equation. And this makes it possible, through the chaos and confusion of their opponents, to continue to be in power safely, without any serious risks.