Clan Games: PAS on the Threshold of a Political Reset

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Sergiu CEBAN
Maia Sandu’s attempt last year to reconcile the conflicting forces within the ruling party was fruitless. The struggle of financial and political clans within PAS is becoming all the more open and aggressive
Radical staff rearrangements, bringing proxies closer, and assigning “own” people on the local level have prompted yet another discussion about what is happening within the PAS party. Many have noticed the long-awaited tectonic shifts and intentions of political clans to consolidate positions and resources. Such arrangements tend to take place on the eve of decisive events, and so everyone is preparing for some sort of battle. It seems that insurmountable contradictions have accumulated among the establishment, and yet another redistribution of spheres of influence can be expected in our country. The struggle of the financial and political clans for sources of income and political influence is becoming more and more open, aggressive and determined. This is evidenced by both a clear increase in mutual accusations and unscheduled inspections, such as yesterday’s visit to a number of checkpoints and the Moldovan railroad. Recently, experts have focused their attention on the developments in justice. This sector has a wide toolkit for influencing practically any rival of the authorities. If during Plahotniuc’s period the control over the judicial and prosecutorial mechanisms was mainly concentrated in one hands, then with the arrival of Maia Sandu and the PAS the justice system has become an absolute muddle and backstabbing, which cannot end for the second year already. It is important for the main groups holding positions in the political and governmental structures to have the cover provided by the courts, especially by the Prosecutor General’s Office. Recently, Acting Prosecutor General Ion Munteanu acquired two new deputies, Alena Nesterov and Igor Demciucin. This is in many ways a turning point and the result of a fierce rivalry for one of the key hubs in the power system. The experiences of Vlad Filat and Igor Dodon show that even top officials can fall under the millstones of Moldovan Themis, and any politician and official would do well to have guarantees in case they lose their position. Speaking of Filat. The unexpected appearance of the PLDM leader to criticize the PAS, after he seemed to have abandoned public politics and retreated into the shadows, does not look at all accidental. I assume that party functionaries and officials with their fingers in the wind will understand to whom exactly the criticisms of the PAS founding father are addressed and what they mean. It is most likely that he retained opportunities to interact with some of the influential PAS political investors and it was they who decided in this way to demonstrate their dissatisfaction with the state of affairs and the pressure on particular officials. A clear sign that the clan feud is entering the public arena is a series of media attacks that portray Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu as the main culprit behind the current energy situation. Spinu himself openly admits that prosecutors might start investigating his actions as minister, which, however, he has no fear of and apparently feels safe. Yet the current circumstances do not seem to be in the deputy prime minister’s favor. Despite the fact that the seasonal drop in energy prices has a logical market explanation, no one cares about the nuances anymore. His statements about personal reports to the president on energy issues are nothing more than an attempt to mark his status in the hierarchy of power. Spinu’s opponents have thrown all the available resources at ousting him. To all appearances, public opinion and the ground for a criminal-procedural or personnel-political decision are already being prepared. In this light, Spinu’s show of protest on Monday at a TV station, at which PAS representatives are allegedly not allowed to appear, seems to be a gesture of protest and a declaration of willingness to leave the party’s harbor for his own political voyage. Especially since the other day, the deputy prime minister challenged (sued) the capital’s mayor, thus launching his election campaign for the position. There is talk that one of the main promoters of the party-government reset and the beneficiary of weakening Andrei Spinu and the forces behind him is Dorin Recean, who has long been seen for the premiership position. Many sources indicate that it was Spinu and his people who were behind last year’s leaks of personal correspondence, which mostly affected Recean and those close to him. They tried to hit the image of their “political friends” and did it completely against the rules, creating a deep split within the government. Natalia Gavrilita seems to be a hostage of the current situation, despite her formal status. She keeps talking about the President’s confidence, but still hints at further employment after she leaves the position of Prime Minister. Obviously, Gavrilita expects suitable conditions and a convenient context, because she does not want to resign from her office amid not only a difficult socio-economic situation, but also any type of corruption or political scandals, resulting in her cabinet being sacrificed and sent to a disgraceful resignation. Apparently, Maia Sandu’s attempt last year to find a way out of the situation and reconcile the conflicting parties within the government was fruitless. The growing disagreements and open bickering indicate that the Head of State has lost control over the PAS, and its members continue to group together “according to their interests” in an effort to redistribute access to sources of state funding and corrupt schemes. Sandu and the PAS leaders find themselves in an unenviable position, and they face the very difficult task of ensuring an internal balance of power and maintaining political unity. Here one cannot rule out the possibility of a controlled internal political reset, which would allow the internal clans to (re)negotiate. It only remains for us to understand what the price will be, since it is unlikely to do without political sacrifice.