Parliamentary elections in Moldova could trigger radical change (part two)
* To read the first part, please click here.
The Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists (BECS) would probably appoint Igor Dodon (President of Moldova in 2016-2020) as the next prime minister, if the BECS wins the early parliamentary elections, scheduled for Sunday 11 July. Dodon’s Socialist Party took on board former president (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronin with his dying Communist Party, which could not hope to cross the threshold alone. Dodon left the Communist Party in 2011, taking most of his electorate with him in the Socialist Party, and has been denounced as a “traitor” and worse by Voronin over the past ten years. Nonetheless, Dodon invited the Voronin Communists to this bloc, ceding to Voronin’s terms (e.g., first place on the ticket), in exchange for the few remaining Communist votes. This decision reflects the socialists’ fear of losing the legislative elections after the loss of the presidency from Dodon to Maia Sandu (see part one in EDM, July 8).
The BECS election campaign emphasizes issues of national identity and “geopolitical” choices (Noi.md, July 4, 6; Politics.md, July 6; Socialistii.md, accessed July 7). Its campaign emphasizes Moldovan national identity (as opposed to Romanian); state sovereignty (understood as opposing “Western interference in the internal affairs of Moldova”); permanent neutrality (involving the strictest limitations on cooperation with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO); the revision of certain (unspecified) points of Moldova’s association agreement with the European Union; further develop Moldova’s strategic partnership with Russia; strengthen relations with the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union; the search for a “strategic partnership with China”; and “mutually beneficial relations with partner countries […] including the United States and the European Union, based on our national interests. The latter notion is a mere verbal holdover from Dodon’s unsuccessful attempts at “balanced foreign policy” while he was president. Now, however, he swears that “Moldova will stay away from the West-dictated anti-Russian regional agenda that Ukraine and Romania are following” (RIA Novosti, July 2).
At the national level, the BECS would revise the Constitution to enshrine the Moldovan national identity; promote the concept of “Moldovan civic nation, on the principle of” ethnic pluralism in a nation ” […] the Russian language continuing to function as the language of inter-ethnic communication ”; prohibit the sale of agricultural land to foreigners; reserve 50 percent of the Moldovan internal market for agricultural products for local farmers; develop infrastructure and reindustrialize Moldova (without specifying the sources of investment, but apparently hoping for Chinese investments); legally prohibit the closure of schools, kindergartens and hospitals; doubling public funding for health care; promote the traditional family with higher budget allocations for young families (no source of funding indicated); as well as restrict Western funding of Moldovan non-governmental organizations (Noi.md, July 4, 6; Politics.md, July 6; Socialistii.md, consulted on July 7).
Three parties could narrowly cross the threshold for parliamentary representation (5 percent for parties, 7 percent for blocs), according to the latest opinion polls (Ziarul National, July 1, 2, 5). The entry of one of these parties into the new parliament would considerably complicate the formation of a parliamentary majority and a new government, whether by the BECS or the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) oriented western. One or the other would have to negotiate for a coalition in this case.
The Dignity and Truth Platform, led by Andrei Năstase, joined forces with Maia Sandu’s PAS in the long-running effort to overthrow Moldova de facto the sovereign Vladimir Plahotniuc; but it fell out with the PAS after a series of personality clashes in 2020. With 11 seats in the outgoing parliament, the Platform has lost much of its former popularity due to personality and organizational issues. His political goals remain unreservedly pro-Western, more recently adding a strong emphasis on relations with Romania as a late improvisation of the campaign. Nastase expects the Platform to cross the threshold of parliament and insists that only a coalition government of the PAS and the Platform can guarantee Moldova’s European course (Deschide.md, June 10, July 2; Ziarul National, June 28, July 8).
The “Shor Party” of magnate Ilan Shor (nine seats in the outgoing parliament, including that of the fugitive Shor) unofficially aligns itself with the Socialist Party of Igor Dodon. Their alignment is a continuation of their former shared situation as undeclared allies of Plahotniuc under its control until 2019. Their current alignment is not openly announced. Shor and the upper echelon of his party are openly Russophiles, but most of the party’s voters are ordinary Moldovans who benefit from Shor’s lavish social spending from his own resources. The provenance of Shor’s fortune remains unknown and suspect. Shor has carved out a political stronghold for himself in the central district of Orhei. His party’s electoral program envisions social paternalism at the state level. If it crossed the parliamentary threshold, Shor’s Party would be a natural ally of the socialists of Dodon (Ziarul National, June 28, July 9).
The left-wing Russophile “Renato Usatii Bloc” hopes to cross the parliamentary threshold (7% for the blocs) and negotiate its place in a coalition government. Usatii is the mayor of the largely Russified city of Balti, the second largest city in Moldova in government-controlled territory. A Russified Moldovan himself, Usatii attempts to project interethnic appeal by opposing the Chisinau political establishment as such. Mercurial and unpredictable, Usatii has changed his alliance many times. He served Plahotniuc for several years, resides part of the time in Russia, and is currently targeting Dodon as his main personal enemy (Ziarul National, June 28; IPN, June 30).
Usatii’s current ambition is to enter a coalition government: either a bipartite coalition with the PAS, or a tripartite coalition with the PAS and the socialists, but excluding Dodon and several associates of Dodon. Any association of Usatii with PAS would cast a shadow over the latter and is probably the undeclared objective behind Usatii’s coalition offer.