Why Did Maia Sandu Invite People to Come to the Square?

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Sergiu Ceban The announcement of Maia Sandu’s upcoming new address to the nation, revealed yesterday, created much intrigue and gave rise to a variety of rumors: from the president’s intention to resign to a referendum on unification with Romania. The reality turned out to be simpler. The National Assembly “European Moldova” was announced to be held on May 21 in the central square of Chisinau. As could be expected, almost all major political decisions in our country in the near future will be either electorally or geopolitically driven. Opinion polls, including probably closed ones, show the rapid loss of PAS positions and people’s faith in “good times”. Against this background, the party strategists, as well as Sandu’s advisors from the presidency, apparently decided to create a bright picture of Moldova as a bastion of the “European world” ahead of the summit of the European Political Community, due on June 1, with an abundance of European banners on the square. All of these should help the PAS to enter the electoral race with more or less good starting positions. Basically, such a political strategy has always proved to be a success in our country during all three decades of independence. If the authorities are totally failing to improve living standards and socio-economic policy, it is always possible to offer “a geopolitical idea” to voters, which can quell any idle talk about high prices and complaints about difficult living conditions. As a matter of fact, the main square of the capital is a very symbolic place in every respect. It is here that Moldova gained its independence, and its main rostrum voiced the key ideas and meanings that formed the basis of the construction of the Moldovan state. More than once, the square witnessed the people’s shock fist which ousted such seemingly solid regimes as that of Voronin and Plahotniuc. The society is not in its best mood today, and holding such a large-scale event to ensure the maximum social and political mobilization of citizens may lead to quite the opposite result. Even the first reaction from the opposition, which has links to the Moldovan fugitive oligarchs, shows that the planned mass meeting will be used, also against the current government. Most likely, starting in May, the Shor party will resume its protests in order to heat up the protest mood as much as possible. It might help fail the popular gathering, or even spoil the presidential plans to strengthen Moldova’s pro-European spirit. The main beneficiary of a small mess in the center of Chisinau on the eve of the summit is, of course, Moscow, which can give additional forces and resources to create an emergency situation and the need to use force against dissenters, thereby derailing the entire electoral and geopolitical plan of our authorities. Semyon ALBU: Convening a “national assembly” in the center of Chisinau was the only interesting episode in the president’s rather routine speech, in which all the tired clichés about the war in Ukraine, aggressive Russia, “thieves with dirty money” and the like were heard. On the whole, such a move was expected. As my colleagues wrote, this year is a critical one for the ruling party, which has been caught up in a series of crises and almost completely failed. Perhaps its only achievement so far is that Moldova has maintained peace, but in all other respects there has been no progress: the economy is a disaster, the social sector is also in trouble. They have already had to index pensions and salaries below the level of inflation, in violation of the law, which means an increase in poverty. Nor is there any success with democratic reforms. Just look at the justice reform, which has turned into a ridiculous travesty. On top of that is the abuse of the Constitution, the flourishing corruption schemes, the energy crisis and a whole bunch of other problems. All in all, there are not as many tools available that can be used in the upcoming elections. The only thing left is to saddle the well-worn “Euro-integration horse” which previously helped rescue the bankrupt Moldovan politicians. The calculation, we must admit, is not hopeless, because the tense geopolitical situation on the eve of the decisive battles in the Ukrainian conflict has greatly increased the attention of the West to Moldova. And the regime is obviously trying to trade on our country’s role in the war in order to gain a clear European perspective in exchange and turn it into its main trump card in the coming years. That’s what we have. Maia Sandu and her regime desperately need to kick off negotiations on Moldova’s accession to the EU. In this, she enjoys the unequivocal support of Romania and Poland, key allies of the United States in the region, who are gradually taking on the European affairs in their hands. Washington seems to be looking favourably upon this. The large-scale rally “for Europe” in the center of Chisinau, with a lot of pompous slogans and speeches, is probably aimed at putting pressure on the “nuclear” states of the European Union lacking the same enthusiasm for the EU enlargement as the Eastern European members do. The more so since the “national assembly” is to be held literally ten days before a summit of the European Political Community, on which much depends in terms of defining the pace of our country’s European integration. This is food for thought for the big European big shots. I also do not exclude the possibility that the authorities will use the rally to approve some acts that will underlie future legislative or, you never know, constitutional changes. Fortunately, a mechanism of amending the basic law bypassing the “canonical” procedures has been tested. At the very least, irreversibility of the European path can be fixed in order to anchor this course forever and thereby please the Western partners. Anyway, as we see, there are different options. Cristian RUSSU: Following the last century’s classical precepts of political propaganda that history is made in the street”, or rather the street legitimizes it, the authorities are staging an important occasion in terms of shaping contemporary mythology – a mass gathering. This event is obviously staged, since it fits into the methodology of political marketing and will complete the cycle of steps already taken to fuel tensions in society, to identify and demonize the common enemy and his accomplices, to strengthen the repressive apparatus and to limit the rights and freedoms of citizens. All of this we have seen over the past year in an actively promoted hysteria spiral for the sake of Moldova's inclusion in the European community. The price of achieving this goal is constantly growing as the cost of corporate housing from an unfair developer, which requires the formal approval of the majority of its participants. Here you cannot do without loud slogans and promises of positive and rapid change. Since in our case not everyone agrees with the rising costs, a fact that provokes protests, the May 21 meeting will have to be accompanied by a generous batch of promises of bright prospects. We can be sure that the speakers of the assembly will unanimously talk about the start of EU accession negotiations, expected by the year’s end. The people’s support for the authorities, or national demand, as it will be presented to the Western partners, is necessary as a pre-event before the June 1 visit of high European officials to the country to attend the European Political Community summit. Everybody remembers how the decision to liberalize the visa regime nine years ago resulted in an increase in support for the authorities. It seems that we will witness yet another attempt to raise the prestige of the regime at the expense of foreign policy achievements, which means that the principal decision in Brussels has already been made. The protests held by supporters of the opposition “movement for Moldova” can also be considered an important element of preparation for the national assembly. The presence of well-tested organizational and logistical solutions, as well as a contingent for mass actions significantly simplifies the task of the authorities in case of low motivation among the personnel of state structures. In fact, it is the Shor opposition party that will hand over the already prepared crowds for the reporting needed by the authorities. If we turn once again to the classics of the political propaganda genre, who asserted that “a rally is bad if there is no good fight at the end of it”, then we can assume that the script for the upcoming national assembly includes not only peaceful marches. This can be confirmed by recalling the events of April 7, 2009, the non-peaceful nature of which is presented as a manifestation of national self-awareness.