Anniversary of Recean’s Government: A Time of Shattered Hopes

Home / Analytics / Anniversary of Recean’s Government: A Time of Shattered Hopes
Victor ENI
Over the past year, the team of ministers led by Dorin Recean, in fact, failed to solve any of the tasks it was assigned with
Against the background of rapidly changing political events, we almost missed the first anniversary of Dorin Recean’s government. On 10 February last year, Maia Sandu nominated her former security adviser for the post of prime minister, after Natalia Gavrilita “willingly” resigned. In order not to delay the reshuffle, parliament approved the new cabinet just a week later. Twelve months later, the situation in Moldova can hardly be characterized other than rather difficult. The government is marking its first annual milestone amidst constant socio-economic and internal political upheavals. The other day, the country was hit by another wave of farmer protests, more radical than before, to which the prime minister and his team seem to have nothing to offer. Moreover, over the past few months, the cabinet has been caught up in a chain of scandals involving top government officials. Even Recean has again drawn negative attention, for example, by making high profile remarks about the judiciary. Therefore, it is not surprising that all indicators of how people feel about the current government, to put it mildly, leave much to be desired. According to the December opinion poll, the majority of respondents believe that it caused stagnation or regression: 36% rated its performance as unsatisfactory, slightly less than a quarter (4-6 points on a 10-point scale). At the same time, only 9% of respondents rated the performance of ministers at 10 points. As far back as the beginning of 2023, experts expressed doubts about the new Cabinet’s chances for a breakthrough to improve the state of affairs in any way. Recean’s emergence from the shadows and attempts to make him a public politician also failed, after which the prime minister curbed his “going to the people”. It is also worth remembering that Gavrilita’s dismissal and the appointment of her successor took place amidst scandals within the ruling party. Therefore, one of the goals of the personnel reshuffle at the time was to keep PAS from internal turmoil in order to achieve a relatively favorable result in the autumn local elections. None of this, as we realize, came true, and the overall outcome of the government’s work is rather poor. In fact, the first hundred days showed signs of the situation’s deterioration and the futility of any expectations. Therefore, few doubted that the potential would be barely enough to keep the situation under minimal control and prevent at least a sharp decline in the economy and living standards. Dorin Recean’s appointment was also considered in the broader context of the militarily overheated regional situation. It is not only about the events in neighboring Ukraine: we can recall Volodymyr Zelensky’s warnings about an intercepted Russian plan to destabilize Moldova and statements by the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine about a coup d'état in our country being prepared in Moscow offices. Given Kyiv’s plans for decisive action on the front line at the time, one of the new prime minister’s tasks was to maintain internal political stability by suppressing pro-Russian activity and to form a deep rear for the Ukrainian army. In fact, Moldova has become much more vulnerable over the past year, and the chances for oligarchic and pro-Russian forces’ revenge are much higher than in early 2023. Despite one of Recean’s abilities to establish dialogue with regional elites, relations with Gagauzia and Transnistria returned to the state of the mid-90s within a year. The “economic revenge” of the central authorities has not yet led to more concession from Tiraspol and Comrat. The ongoing “conversation in a raised voice” risks only to turn into much more serious problems and stronger centrifugal tendencies in these regions. Based on last year’s outcomes, it’s safe say that the performance of the sitting government in the economy is not splendid either, and, frankly speaking, it is simply depressing. The economic figures are rather indicative: for instance, the budget deficit reached 16 billion lei. This year’s budget was adopted with a planned deficit of 15 billion lei, and to cover it our country will have to take new loans, although 10 billion lei should be repaid this year. The staff shortage and the lack of backup qualified specialists could not but affect the composition of Recean’s government. In just one year, five ministers dropped out of the initial team list. Minor but quite tangible staff attrition is witnessed at the level of state secretaries and mid-level government officials, along with the resignations of experienced managers at important state-owned enterprises. All this together is an alarming indicator of unhealthy processes that are developing within the system and the state apparatus. We cannot but say a few words about the de facto duumvirate of power in the government, where Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Spinu has almost absolute autonomy in his actions, provoking scandals one after another. At the same time, his immediate chief Dorin Recean humbly takes the image blows aimed at the cabinet, avoiding criticism. After a year, a paradoxical balance of power has developed in the government, when it is not clear who is the real prime minister, who is the understudy, and who is really vested with full executive power. Due to these circumstances, Dorin Recean has been trying to avoid popping up in the press or commenting on anything in recent months, so as not to come under fire of growing criticism. In addition, it is becoming increasingly difficult to cover up the accumulating problems and the obvious degradation of the state’s socio-economic policy with arguments about Moscow’s hybrid attacks and hostilities in Ukraine. Recean’s prime ministerial and political ambitions clearly shrank, especially after the government he led became a symbol of shattered hopes and false expectations after just one year. It is possible that the incumbent prime minister, as well as other top-level officials, have long thought of quitting the game, but it is hardly easy to do so. PAS, of course, can well afford to sacrifice another inglorious cabinet. But the resignation, firstly, needs the right moment, and, secondly, it should not hit Maia Sandu’s positions in the hot pre-election period. Therefore, it is difficult to talk about the timing of the next prime ministerial transfer. However, the fact that nothing good should be expected from this government is clear to everyone.