Political Analysts on Sandu Proposed Referendum: Trying to Get More Votes Could Be a Trap

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President Maia Sandu asked the Parliament to approve a national referendum on Moldova’s foreign policy vector. The plebiscite may take place already in autumn. Maia Sandu announced her intention to run for a second presidential term. The President delivered this message on the occasion of the end of her three-year mandate. According to political analysts, the idea of holding the referendum together with the presidential election could be a pre-election strategy of the President to get more votes. However, they believe this could be a trap for Maia Sandu. The head of state said that Moldovans had earned the right to decide their own fate and were confident to build a European state. In this context, Maia Sandu asked for support to her aspirations to run for a new presidential term. Political analysts say that the motives for holding the referendum on EU accession are not sufficiently explained, given the opposition had previously requested a similar referendum, but with a different purpose, to prove that Moldova does not have an absolute majority in favor of European integration. According to analysts, this initiative might have arisen in the context of the presidential election and is part of the electoral strategy of the head of state, who announced that she would run for a new term. “We are waiting for the explanations that Ms. President will subsequently give about this initiative; the idea cannot just hang in the air. On the other hand, we have to admit that Moldova’s electoral legislation creates obstacles for organizing this kind of referendum on the day of presidential or parliamentary elections,” political analyst Anatol Țăranu said. Experts say that the referendum on EU accession may carry certain risks for Moldova’s European course. “Maia Sandu will not benefit from this aspect electorally and politically, it may harm Moldova’s European course. - Could there be a mass vote against it? - I do not think so, but it could create certain problems. If I were a political technologist deciding on such a formula, I would not risk, at least at this stage, to make such a proposal,” Țăranu emphasized. “The question is when this referendum will take place. If it is held at the same time as the presidential election, it could be a success; if it is held separately, the turnout could be very, very low. The current rulers or political authorities are playing with dangerous scenarios, and these scenarios are likely coming from Moscow. It is no coincidence that Șor and all of them and their political technologists wanted such a referendum. (...) I wonder who has been advising the President so that this does not become a trap for her,” political analyst Ion Tăbîrță warns. Earlier, the idea of a referendum on EU membership was supported by the Socialist Party. The opposition demanded it immediately after our country signed the application for EU membership. The Socialists still favor this option, although they believe it is overdue. Today they insist that the referendum and the presidential election be held separately. “This should have been done a long time ago, first a referendum is held and based on its results some action is initiated or not, but this event is certainly necessary. (...) If we want it to be truly democratic and fair, it would be appropriate to separate them, because Maia Sandu intends to use this moment in her favor and blackmail the country’s citizens,” Grigore Novac, a MP from the Communists and Socialists block, told TV8. Socialist Executive Secretary Igor Dodon said on his Facebook that after three years in power, Maia Sandu had nothing to offer citizens except a referendum to save her political career. The European Council approved the EU accession negotiations with Moldova and Ukraine on 14 December. Our country applied for EU membership in March 2022 and was granted candidate status three months later.