The Paradoxes of the Left Political Camp

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Sergiu CEBAN
Despite the solid popular support, the left-wing parties of Moldovan politics are going through bad times, and their future prospects are more than vague
The latest public opinion polls show approximately the same electoral preferences of citizens: a noticeable drop in the popularity of the ruling party along with a sagging opposition. Meanwhile, most surveys claim that the cumulative rating of the leftist parties, typically labeled pro-Russian in our country, may well allow them to compete for a majority in the next parliament. However, even with this solid popular support, we cannot say that the left-wing situation augurs any prospects for their political forces. Surely, Shor party is now the main leader in this segment. As has been mentioned more than once lately, the party has reactivated after the winter respite rushing into the struggle against the ruling regime. It seems to have carefully analyzed and revised its street protests tactics. There is no doubt that the little pause benefited the party, especially in terms of resource support. That the aid has increased is felt not only by the protesters, but also by the young strong guys who occasionally travel outside of Moldova to “improve their protest skills”, as our law enforcement officers claim. Another rally against Chisinau yesterday was rather heated, and clearly contrasted with the previous events. Despite the inertia of the demonstrations, the temperature is gradually rising, and it will be more and more difficult for the authorities to resist such Sunday’s attacks. In fact, the Shor is the only political formation that implements a strategy of active street pressure on the country’s leadership and is ready to engage in direct confrontation with the security forces, who provide the security contour both around the state institutions and the whole regime. The authorities, for their part, tell us breathtaking stories about neutralizing organized groups plotting the violent takeover of key state agencies. One can hardly explain why the law enforcers are dramatizing their spy games exposing a grand conspiracy against Moldova with the direct involvement of the Russian secret services. Most likely, the reality is much simpler and the situation is more than controllable. But if hysteria is further whipped up, the opposite effect might occur, including an increased public interest and, as a result, extra funding of the Shor party protests. The Socialists and Communists (BCS), who as the main opposition force are supposed to hold the strategic initiative and be at the forefront of the anti-government movement, seem to have stuck even deeper into internal squabbles. Given this trend, PSRM’s future fragmentation seems almost inevitable. No remarkable initiatives have been heard from BCS for a long time, and all its actions look like a reflexive reaction to the official decisions, a vivid example of which is the protest against the language changes. Yet, even in this case the parliamentary opposition proved unable to properly handle a hot issue with a traditionally high political charge. This has once again confirmed the inefficiency of the tactical alliance between Communists and Socialists, who, acting separately, can hardly do more. Moreover, the PSRM is still engaged in a fierce behind-the-scenes struggle with endless intrigues between several groups of party activists. One of the most evident signs of the internal split was the issue of supporting a Gagauzian bashakan candidate. The party ended up choosing Grigorii Uzun, while MP and one of the PSRM frontrunners Vasile Bolea headed the electoral headquarters of Victor Petrov. It appears that different groups of socialists are going to openly confront each other at the elections in Gagauzia. It is interesting how these contradictions will play out as the local elections approach, when it will be necessary to ensure party support for the city/district council mayors and candidates. Although Igor Dodon renounced his recent impromptu statements about creating a new party, there are reasons to believe that it is the ex-president who is rocking the inner-party boat. It is probably important for Dodon to convince Moscow that, without him, the PSRM will stay in turmoil, and the Kremlin may eventually lose its main political asset in Moldova. In this case, the main task for him is not so much the political survival of the party but his personal survival, and it is not so important to seize power as to return to big politics so as to protect himself from criminal prosecution. After all, it is one thing to prosecute an ordinary citizen Dodon, and another thing – to crack down on the leader of the largest opposition party. With no definite strategy, direction, or clear agenda, PSRM is also fading politically. Meanwhile, the longtime leader Vladimir Voronin is in no hurry to leave the political Olympus, nor is he in a hurry to select the party heir who could take over the reins of power. Therefore, the forecasts for the communists who rest on the shoulders of the rapidly weakening PSRM are, alas, utterly disappointing. It is impossible not to mention the capital’s mayor, Ion Ceban. Originally a leftist, he is gradually drifting into the center of the political spectrum, hoping to win support from middle-aged voters with moderate, pragmatic views. Sociological surveys show that among the total number of our compatriots about 20% are undecided, and about 15% do not want to vote at all. It seems that Ceban’s team will work to please these large groups of “those disappointed and hesitating” by proposing a renewed pro-European course that won’t swing between the right and left extremes. Moreover, the recent visit of the capital’s mayor to Israel gave rise to conspiracy theories that there is a tactical Ceban-Shor cooperation, so far hidden from the public eye. If such collaboration really exists, then we will be able to see how the MAN and Shor party columns will behave once the election campaign for the local elections enters its active phase. The political tradition in our country is such that returning to/entering the top level of Moldovan politics requires approval from one of the big capitals (Washington, Moscow, Brussels, Bucharest). Left-wing political projects traditionally need the Kremlin’s blessing, but so far there are certain difficulties in that regard. Moscow is either keeping an eye on the situation, or is busy with its own affairs, and as before does not openly bet in favor of one party, or leader, before the local elections. By the way, exactly the absence of the Kremlin’s instructions can be one of the reasons for such a large number of undecided voters, for whom a vote of confidence from Russia’s top officials is fundamentally important.