How PAS Is Turning Defeat into Victory

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Semyon ALBU
The poor result in the local elections does not seem to be a big problem for the ruling party which easily finds “allies” among the opposition
Yesterday, the capital saw an interesting event - the conference “Lessons Learnt from local elections in 2023 and prospects for democracy in Moldova”, which was organized by the European Dialogue platform. The moderator was the well-known journalist Natalia Uzun. What makes this meeting interesting is the composition of the participants, which was quite representative and, more importantly, party and ideological diverse. The organizers managed to bring together in one hall Igor Dodon, who needs no introduction, the PDCM chairman Ion Chicu, the ex-bashkan of Gagauzia Irina Vlah, the leaders of the Party of Change and Democracy at Home Stefan Gligor and Vasile Costiuc, and even the representative of MAN Gaik Vartanean. In addition to politicians, MPs, experts and members of diplomatic missions, there were also such notable figures as, for example, the “honorable democrat” Dumitru Diacov. All in all, a significant part of the opposition beau monde attended yesterday’s meeting. Allegedly, this was the first time in many years. The whole event was held under the sign of criticizing the ruling regime for its actions in the local elections in particular and anti-democratic policy in general. For instance, Gligor accused the authorities of using administrative resources and called the prospects for democracy in Moldova “gloomy”. Chicu claimed that the elections will be remembered for “political blackmail, persecution of the opposition and violations of rights and freedoms”, and also spoke about the external governance of the country. Dodon drew attention to the strange silence of Western ambassadors who fail to notice the sins of PAS and called for a public declaration that the current state seizure is “danger number one”. Costiuc called PAS an anti-democratic party that acts as a “dictatorial structure”, recalling that before the election it had a criminal case against him, which was immediately closed after the vote. Vlah noted the “absolute defeat” of the ruling party, which was helped neither by administrative resources, nor by the media ban, nor by the visits of European leaders. In her opinion, the PAS had outdone all its predecessors in lawlessness, and the CES has become a know-how of usurping power. Diacov himself lamented the lack of a centrist political platform that could consolidate society. As you see, everyone had a chance to blast the ruling party. Ilan Sor also came under fire, being accused of bribery and illegal financing. At the same time, many speakers were quite optimistic about the future of PAS, believing that in the next elections it would be defeated again and lose its monopoly position. As a result, they even managed to sign a resolution with another unifying motive: “opposition forces should establish a permanent effective dialogue with each other, coordinate their actions, prevent the reign of chaos and anarchy, and develop solutions that can restore legitimacy and democracy in the country”. For this purpose, as pointed out, it is necessary to create a single platform for dialogue between political parties, experts, public organizations representing the overwhelming majority of the population. And the mission of mediators in establishing contact between the authorities and society was suggested by the participants of the conference to be undertaken by external partners, who can no longer “turn a blind eye to the ruination of basic European values by the ruling minority party”. The document also mentions a request to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the President of the PACE for the opinion of the Venice Commission on the state of emergency regime in Moldova. What I would like to say about it. Our opposition has always been bad at cooperation. It is not about ideological contradictions that hinder them (ideas always come second to money) but about old squabbles and mutual distrust, which is sometimes stronger than that towards the ruling party. The fact that the day before they were able to forget old grudges and come together is a plus, and the signing of a joint paper is an even bigger plus. The criminal nature of the ruling regime, which is leading the country into the chasm, is already obvious to everyone. But can we consider yesterday’s gathering the beginning of the very unification of the opposition that we have been calling for since the snap parliamentary elections? In my opinion, we cannot. Because pettiness, fears, suspicion of each other, and, most importantly, completely different interests make the prospect of seeing a united opposition front absolutely unattainable. The experience of past attempts proves the same. Do you remember the “Common Agenda” - the platform of eight parties promoted by Mark Tkaciuk, the leader of the Civic Congress? And where is it now? It has long faded away, even though it was born only last year. Not to mention the fact that the leaked correspondence of officials revealed that Tkaciuk himself was actively cooperating with the regime. Do you think I am too pessimistic? Let’s now look at how the situation in the districts is developing after the local elections. As we remember, after the results were announced, which recorded a painful defeat of the ruling party, there were immediate calls not to cooperate with it under any circumstances. Ion Chicu was the first to raise this cry, and it was echoed by many other oppositionists, including Igor Dodon. What do we have in fact? Just a few days later, rumors about a PAS-PSRM coalition in the district council of Stefan Voda started to circulate. They were quickly refuted, but in vain - in fact, it was already in place. Following a joint voting, a ruling party representative was elected as the chairman of the district, while the Socialists were elected as his deputies. Following the same pattern, a “good man” took the position of the head of Anenii Noi with “leftist” deputies. A similar scheme is observed in other districts, such as Dubasari, where the only difference is that the chairman is from PSRM and the “vice” is from PAS. However, it was not only the socialists who were “weak” – the ruling party promoted its chairmen with the help of Plahotniuc’s European Social Democrats and with the counsellors of the well-known Eugeniu Nichiforciuc. PAS makes a poker face and sees nothing terrible in alliances with those whom it labelled as “Kremlin”, “oligarchic” and so on. However, no one doubted the unscrupulousness of the “good people” – they will make a deal with Satan for the sake of power and money. But there are questions about the opposition. For instance, Dodon, who earlier noted the impossibility of cooperation with PAS, now justifies that there are no coalitions, but just cases of “joint voting”, which PSRM allegedly does not encourage and does not support, although it does not apply any penalties to those who voted. Quite convenient. Even Sor’s Renaștere (Renaissance) party stood on more principle by expelling from its ranks a counselor in Telenesti district who had helped elect the district leadership from PAS. Thus, the ruling party, which failed in the local elections, is confidently taking revenge, easily gaining control over the seemingly lost districts with the help of the opposition. And all the calls to unify the opposition so far remain just an empty waste of breath and a game for the voters, who have been left fooled again. In the meantime, the authorities are building on this success by scheduling a “mayors’ forum” on Saturday under the auspices of Maia Sandu herself. All primars, regardless of party affiliation and ideological views, are invited there, apparently to beckon the sweet carrot of European funding and once again to explain clearly that only the “right” mayors will be able to taste it. Thereby, the ruling party will continue to pressure local chairmen, as it did before the elections, forcing them to take yellow banner and prepare the people for Sandu’s victory in 2024.