Let’s get to the bottom of why the renewed protests are unlikely to hinder the ruling regime in any way
Semyon ALBU, RTA:
Yesterday, the “protest season 2024” opened in the country. Quite expectedly, Ilan Sor’s structure, the Renaissance Party, was the ringleader, joined by other prominent representatives of this political group, such as Marina Tauber. It is stated that they managed to gather as many as 10,000 people in front of the parliament, which is certainly a very optimistic assessment.
Obviously, the protest was held under anti-government slogans. The participants shouted “down with PAS” and accused Sandu’s regime of lawlessness, chaos and militarism. As usual, the protest resulted in the adoption of a resolution demanding that the president and the government resign and calling for the fight against “anti-people policies” and support for the course of neutrality and independence. In general, as usual, “support all the good and counter all the bad”. The funny thing is that not far from them, the authorities gathered a counter-protest of Sor’s opponents. After rallying for a while, the whole crowd, probably proud of themselves, went home.
Looking at this, one can’t help but feel a persistent sense of deja vu. The Sor supporters used exactly the same guides and templates in 2022 and last year. Then they unsuccessfully urged the other opposition to join their actions - and this time they again raised a cry in vain: of course, none of the other political forces joined them. Advancing the logical chain, we can conclude that there were no results then, and there will be none now. As a result, the only thing that the organizers of these protests can boast about is the number of masses they gathered, which, apparently, is the main goal.
It is obvious that yesterday’s demonstrations are only the beginning. There will be new ones performed by Sor’s emissaries, there will also be those that will take place under the banner of the BCS - they have already started today, there will also be new “riots” of agrarians, veterans on the Dniester, etc. I think, as my colleagues have written, the year will be rich in popular demonstrations. But the point of holding them in the current form is completely unclear to me.
What is the essence and purpose of protests in general? In general: to draw attention to some problems and to force the authorities to solve them, and otherwise to demand their resignation. Do the actions we see in Moldova correspond to these goals? Absolutely not. And there are plenty of reasons for that.
First, the establishment of the sole regime of Maia Sandu and PAS once again turned Moldova to the captured state and created new game rules. The latter do not envisage protests with political demands, as they are declared to be the plots of Moldova’s enemies. Socio-economic problems are allowed to be voiced, but without radical appeals in case the state machine is not going to solve them for one reason or another. Our miserable demonstrations of agrarians are a perfect example of how it works here. That is, it doesn’t.
The EU countries provide us with perfect example how to really protest. Look at the scale of the revolt of the French farmers who took Paris in a ring, swamping autobahns with manure, blocking administrative offices, and not shunning clashes with law enforcers. And now French President Emmanuel Macron is forced to veto deals to supply cheap agricultural products to the EU and insist on restrictions on grain exports from Ukraine. That’s how it works. And people like Slusari, who drowned the farmer protests in despair and futility, can only envy, sigh and lament that their European colleagues are treated with respect by the authorities. However, they forget to add that this respect had to be earned, not just by scaring officials with absurd threats for months and then rolling tractors aimlessly into the square.
The second reason why our “protesters” do not succeed is the disunity of the opposition, which is completely fragmented and cooperates poorly with each other. The ratings and capabilities of the opposition formations are such that they hinder them to launch a truly mass street movement on their own. Sporadic actions do not surprise or threaten anyone, and therefore their effectiveness tends to zero.
The situation is paradoxical. On the one hand, the country is hurtling towards the abyss at full speed: corruption in the government is thriving, laws are being violated almost daily, political repression is gaining momentum, and all this amidst a catastrophic state of affairs in the economy. Objectively, our rapidly impoverishing people have accumulated a lot of discontent, to put it mildly. On the other hand, this is hardly reflected in the internal political life of the country - the government rules, the opposition grumbles, but does not cross the line. Everyone does what they’re good at.
Moreover, I’m about to express a very seditious thought: all the current protests are actually playing into the hands of the regime and are only strengthening it. How is that possible, if, in theory, their goal should be exactly the opposite? Judge for yourself - the ratings of both the ruling party and its rivals are almost frozen. Of course, PAS has lost a lot of supporters, but its competitors are not reaping the benefits either. Almost all polls predict Sandu’s victory, at least in the first round and exactly the same composition of the parliament as it is now. Of course, the “yellows” are expected to have less mandates, but if we take into account the diaspora, administrative resources and future runners by factions, the picture is not bad for PAS, which, by the way, prudently refused to legally stop the political tourism of MPs.
The opposition helps this regime to stay afloat, including with its ineffective sporadic protests, which reek of formalism and futility. People are not fools either and can sense falsity very well. They can never fully trust a person involved in the theft of a billion dollars and related to Plahotniuc’s entourage. They will never believe in the sincerity of the BCS protests, seeing how well the joint PAS and PSRM votes are going in the districts, and how, by an amazing coincidence, the judicial investigation against Dodon has stalled. They have a growing understanding that they are watching a theatre play, where all the actors have predetermined roles, where all the plot twists and turns are prescribed in advance, and they are destined to be passive spectators.
As a result, it seems that the only purpose of these protests is to maintain the reputation and ratings of their organizers, and at the same time to lead people’s anger to nowhere, depriving them of hopes for any changes in the country. And in this respect, it is difficult to perceive the launched protests as anything other than “ostentatious”. In order to really put pressure on the ruling regime, a completely different level of demonstrations is needed. But it seems that nobody really needs it.