Sham Consolidation of the Right-Wing Opposition

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Christian RUSSU
Amid the obvious problems with the unity of political forces on the left flank, right-wing opposition parties for the most part only imitate consolidation to confront the government
Recently, one of the budding opposition politicians of the nominal left flank dispelled illusions about a hypothetical unification around a leader capable of competing with the incumbent president. This is about the former Bashkan of Gagauzia, Irina Vlah, who admitted the possibility of consolidation of left-wing forces only in the second round of presidential elections. In contrast to the leftist camp, the right-wing opposition began to signal internal integration as early as late last year. The emergence of a new pro-European political bloc was debated in December following the news that the Party of Change, the DA Platform and the League of Towns and Communes party had formed a “political and electoral partnership for the 2024-2025 presidential and parliamentary elections”. The first two parties can hardly be called leaders of the opposition. The representatives of the Party of Change, Stefan Gligor and Sergiu Tofilat, are familiar to the public, first of all, as “multi-field experts”: they regularly appear on Moldovan TV channels, including those close to the authorities. We cannot call them fighters against the regime, but they regularly act as “watchdogs” against colleagues in the opposition and critics of the authorities. For example, the proponent of “changes” Sergiu Tofilat was the first to attack economic expert Veaceslav Ionita after his recent revelations about fraudulent gas purchases. Such episodes in which Stefan Gligor and co. act as “useful idiots” for PAS, have been numerous in recent years. At the same time, all these experts with a party ticket are strangely involved in the activities of structures in the interests of the authorities or receive external funding for project activities. Tofilat, for instance, found himself in the supervisory board of the Moldovagaz company last summer. The DA Platform is also engaged in such sporadic cooperation. Alexandru Slusari, one of the ex-leaders of the formation, used to long and tediously beg his former colleagues from the ACUM bloc for a “place in the sun”. Mr. Slusari managed to enter the Board of Energocom only after his activity in the management of farmers’ protests became clearly irritating. By the way, after that Mr. Slusari immediately tempered his ardor, he is not seen in the vanguard of the current protests of the discouraged agrarians. The fate of another prominent figure from the DA Platform, Chiril Motpan, is also noteworthy. Having lost his parliamentary mandate, this fighter against the Transnistrian regime considered it unjustified to sit on the barricades of the opposition for a long time and found himself in the state enterprise Metalferos, which has a bad reputation as a constant source of corruption schemes under any political regime in our country. The leaders of the DA Platform and the Party of Change have had no other notable achievements in recent years. They did not succeed in the local elections either. Against Ion Ceban in Chisinau, Gligor received a symbolic 0.83% of the votes. The result of Victor Chironda, who was nominated by the platform, was slightly better – 3.82%. The new leader of the party, Dinu Plingau, is certainly striving for success, actively criticizing the regime, but one cannot consider the formation promising amidst the described background. In contrast to the first two, the League of Towns and Communes party, as they say, succeeded in the local elections and even managed to win the position of mayor in Edinet. Having noticed such a promising project, the leaders of the PPDA and the Party of Change found it profitable to lure newcomers to the political field, hoping to raise their status in the run-up to the elections. However, given the political background of these old-timers, there is a suspicion that someone in the ruling party simply needed to take a new political project under their wing placing their minions there. In late January, the three parties announced the formation of an electoral bloc with a single candidate for the presidential election, thus formally launching the process of uniting right-wing opposition forces. It has not yet been revealed who exactly is planned to be nominated for the post of the head of state, probably in the hope of attracting other participants to the bloc, and there are such potential partners. The Coalition for Unity and Prosperity (CUB) party, led by former Ambassador to the United States Igor Munteanu, remains one of the few troublemakers on the right flank. The development of this political project, positioned as a real alternative to PAS, is not easy for Munteanu, and the reason for this is not only the regime’s resistance. Last summer, CUB announced cooperation with Ukraine’s ruling Servant of the People party, and Ukrainian MPs even held a meeting in Chisinau to announce the drafting of common priorities. It was preceded by an event in Stockholm where CUB was accepted into the European liberal group ALDE. However, the project’s international activities then began to wind down. Much to Igor Munteanu’s displeasure, European partners considered the promotion of the rival PAS untimely, and without them the prospects for any pro-European party in Moldova are negligible. Instead of being active abroad, CUB was offered cooperation with the newly-formed bloc of other pro-European parties. Igor Munteanu has so far politely refused such cooperation, apparently well aware of what he is induced to do: in particular, to abandon the promotion of an independent agenda and then to avoid any harsh criticism of the authorities under the general motto “to prevent the revenge of the Kremlin’s agents”. Therefore, all pro-European parties were asked to work on supporting the electoral campaign of PAS and Maia Sandu personally who initiated the constitutional referendum along with the presidential election. To refuse such an offer means to jeopardize Moldova’s European integration. European partners will not understand this. So, they face a real conundrum. All over the continent, ahead of elections, European politicians have actively joined the political struggle, using all available methods, but the right-wing opposition forces in our country are denied this right because of the need to ensure stability on the EU borders. The invitation to right-wing parties to consultations by the President confirmed this.  Obviously, from a substantive point of view, the PAS proposal to other right-wing forces can only be that the latter become the mouthpiece of anti-Russian rhetoric and help get rid of real competitors who have proved themselves in the local elections. For example, the re-elected mayor of Chisinau and leader of MAN recently announced plans for a tough confrontation with the ruling party. Quite an object of endeavor for a cohort of idle pro-European parties, isn’t it? If the regime succeeds in implementing this scenario, the opposition politicians from both the right and left flanks won’t even have to seek compromises to combine their efforts, because the second round may simply not happen.