PAS and Its Superweapon Against Rivals

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Semyon ALBU
The CEC that is the “golden share” that should insure the ruling party against predictable failure at local elections, and at the same time temper the ardor of its most zealous rivals
Everything is absolutely clear with the rule of Maia Sandu and PAS. To describe it in one word, it is a disaster. “Good times” after two years of unlimited power of the “yellows” have not come, and obviously will never come. There is no need to list all the problems of our country once again, they are well-known. Suffice it to say that the ruling party has not achieved success in any sphere that would bring real tangible benefits to the country and its citizens here and now. Even all these ritual statuses of candidates for EU membership and other frills haven’t changed anything fundamentally for common people, who want to get something other than loud slogans and a shoulder pat from Western partners. That’s why the PAS ratings are steadily dropping. It is quite clear that PAS won’t be able to repeat the success of 2021 under any circumstances. Such miracles just don’t happen. Moreover, there is no chance of even retaining the parliamentary majority. No matter how much they promise during the pre-election period, people won’t forget all the madness of Moldovan politics of the last two years, when the country’s interests seem to have been put on the very back burner. Already this autumn, the people will have the first opportunity to give their preliminary assessment of the current regime by (not) voting for its representatives in local elections. All sociological forecasts say the ruling party is going to fail, and neither reduced utility tariffs nor any other pre-election PR campaigns will help avoid that. However, all of the above is true only if our electoral process is conducted according to the rules and without violations, which however will be exactly the opposite. Neither Madam President nor her parliamentary project are particularly committed to the letter and spirit of the law and democracy, which are trampled everywhere in the country. The regime does not even hesitate to violate one of the fundamental democratic principles - the separation of powers - by totalitarian subjugation of the justice system. Therefore, who says that the same methods cannot be used to interfere in electoral process? Especially since everything has long been ready for electoral lawlessness. The main state electoral body, the CEC, has long been seized by PAS proxies. It is led by Angelica Caraman, a member of the ruling party, and the majority of the commission subordinate to the latter. And if you think that’s not important, here’s a little list of what the CEC was doing just in the last few weeks: - banned the opposition Renastere party from collecting citizens’ signatures to ban the ruling party; - banned the same party from distributing flyers criticizing two years of PAS rule; - refused to register an initiative group to organize a referendum on the neutral status and the country’s foreign policy; - banned the Mayor’s Office from distributing the booklets “1000+ Projects for Chisinau”; - imposed a ban on information about what the Ion Ceban-led Mayor’s Office did and is doing, issuing an order to submit the reports “of public interest” developed by the Mayor’s Office for approval to the CEC. As you can see, the CEC struggles mostly with Ion Ceban, which is reasonable. The “yellows” need a true pro-European player to be back at the helm of the capital city after 2019, and not some former socialist under the disguise of a European integration proponent. No surprise that Ceban’s PAS rival Lilian Karp has long been campaigning aggressively, breaking every possible rule and regulation, for which he received only a formal warning from the CEC (which, as you understand, did not stop him). Amidst this, the capital’s mayor accused the CEC of preparing falsifications in the local elections in Chisinau, drawing attention to the manipulation with electoral lists: “In some lists of Chisinau suburbs, voters disappeared, while in others several hundred thousand were added. One of the mechanisms used by the authorities for these purposes will be electoral lists, and a tool to launch these irregularities will be CEC and the Public Service Agency, governed by PAS”. The CEC, of course, denies everything, but who would believe it, especially when the number of its very strange and unexplainable from the logical point of view decisions is growing every day. For instance, the CEC has recently taken control of all pre-election sociology, obliging the relevant companies to obtain permission to conduct surveys, to agree on a list of questions (!), and to provide information about the customer and the release date of the results. The media sector, of course, was also muzzled. Thus, until the end of the elections, broadcasters, media service providers and advertising companies will have the right to transmit messages “of public interest” only with the approval of the CEC. Quite convenient. There are other mysterious decisions, such as the cancellation of integrity certificates for candidates in local elections. Now they only need to file a declaration on their own responsibility. I wonder who exactly this change was written for? They also cancelled the voting stamp, which is supposed to protect against “electoral swings”. Apparently, this protection is no longer required. Why is that? However, the CEC will check all donations to political parties that exceed 3 average salaries, imposing sanctions for critical exceeding. Given the situation with Karp, it is clear that candidates from the ruling party won’t be fined for these violations. By and large, the CEC is the “golden share” or “last argument” that should insure the ruling party against predictable failure at local elections and at the same time temper the ardor of its most zealous rivals. The main target of the commission’s action is Chisinau. That is why we see so many public accusations and criticism of Ion Ceban, who is aware of the unequal conditions in which he will have to conduct the election campaign. If the CEC continues to play along with PAS and remove its competitors, the results of the local elections may surprise many people. The question is what is the tolerance degree of Western supervisors to the atrocities that the ruling party is already doing and is going to do with triple zeal. There are doubts that our partners are ready to overlook everything, given that they have their own plans for the future political structure of Moldova, in which the current “yellow prima donna” is not sure to remain at the top of the food chain (or at least alone). Nevertheless, this scenario is quite optimistic. At worst, we can await mass falsifications, with a deaf-blind, when needed, CEC.