By Vladislav Șaran (Institute of Legal and Political Research of Academy of Sciences of Moldova)
The end of political year of 2015 has proven to be a play with sad ending for the Republic of Moldova. Valeriu Strelet’s government fell after less than 100 days in office. The motion was backed by 65 deputies (out of 101) from the Socialist Party (PSRM) led by Igor Dodon, the Communist Party (PCRM), and the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), which until recently had been a member of the government coalition. Former Prime Minister Valeriu Streleţ not been accepted by a parliamentary majority, who has accused him of being “the lawyer” of Vlad Filat, a businessman in custody on bank fraud investigation. According to some, the arrest of the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDPM), Vlad Filat, was organized by some political opponents who conspired to eliminate him from political life. Therefore, former Prime Minister Valeriu Streleţ was a victim of the inevitable reconfiguration of the scheme of power in a democratic alliance which no longer resembled what was at the beginning. Shortly after the dismissal, LDPM had no choice but to declare its withdrawal into opposition blaming the PDM for “misappropriating the European path” of Moldova and starting the political crisis by dismissing a “pro-European government”.
Citizen’s frustration was unavoidable because the parties they voted for have shown an irresponsible behaviour and lack of verticality. They have done almost nothing in the fight against corruption in Moldova, subject that was discussed throughout 2015, underestimating even more the confidence in the quality of governance and politicians. According to a study conducted by the organization “The World Justice Project” Moldova is among the most corrupt countries in the world, next to Liberia, Kenya and Zimbabwe. Moldova is ranked 93 out of 102 countries in the 2015 year ranking. It seems that some Moldovan political parties didn’t have in purpose any political reform or change at all. Stagnation and awaiting financial support from European partners and international organizations has been and still remains the concern of politicians after the dismissal of Streleț’s cabinet.
European integration – the common goal that united all parties in the democratic coalition has ceased to be a factor of consolidation as it was in 2010. In 2016 the slogan of European integration appears to be only a shield for political parties to cover the desire to share Moldova in sphere of influence. A good example is the Democratic Party (PDM). Although the LDPM accused the PDM of betraying Moldova’s European integration, the slogans of the PDM in favour of Europe remains unshakeable. In addition, according to the Moldavian press, the PDM is a party of opportunists and corrupt politicians who actually do not pursue any ideology or political doctrine. They are just in pursue of power and financial benefits. In this context, the year 2016 began with the proposal of businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc (PDM) for the position of Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova. Mr. Plahotniuc tried to be persuasive in a public speech which stressed several times his intention to follow the European path for Moldova. However, President Nicolae Timofti rejected this nomination because “Vladimir Plahotniuc does not meet the necessary integrity to his appointment as Prime Minister”. The position of the president was shocking, both for politicians and for civil society on the grounds that Mr Timofti was known as an obedient politician to those political leaders who have advanced him as president in 2012. As it has been pointed out, Mr Timofti’s could not accept Mr. Plahotniuc candidacy, as Timofti was too controversial a figure at the time of political crisis in Moldova. I consider necessary to mention that businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc, according to the local press, would have be monitored by Interpol for some years on suspicion of criminal activity and money laundering. Mr. Plahotniuc denies, however, these accusations. Therefore, however obedient may be President Timofti, he could not accept a prime minister with dubious past, regardless of the alleged pro-European aspirations of the PDM.
The Liberal Party (PL), the smallest grouping in the government coalition, was considered until recently to be a faithful party to his electorate, with a pro-European orientation and no implications in bank frauds or other major corruption cases. But Mihai Ghimpu, PL’s leader, has disappointed its voters by voting in favour of Pavel Filip’s candidacy to Prime Minister, openly unmasking his support for the Democratic Party. On the other hand the Communist Party, another parliamentary party, is downright dismembered and will disappear soon from the political scene. On December 21, 2015 14 Communist deputies announced that they were leaving the party to create another platform. The Communist leader Vladimir Voronin was outraged by this decision of his former colleagues and called them traitors. Surprisingly (or not?), these “14” participated in the election and investment of Pavel Filip Cabinet. The examples do not end here. On 11 January, 7 LDPM deputies also announced they would vote for a government led by a prime minister proposed by PDM. It may seem absurd and populist to say that at the moment in Moldova there is only one party trying to control everything. I would venture to say this with certainty overflowing but the facts discussed above are too eloquent to be ignored.
On the background of popular protests, of a magnitude that had not occurred since the “Twitter Revolution” (April 2009), Pavel Filip was elected Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova. Protesters forced the Moldovan parliament building doors for several hours in a row trying to stop the appointment of the new Prime Minister. The appointment of the new cabinet was held at midnight, inexplicable and unprecedented event in the recent history of Moldova. I would say that lack of political verticality and weakness in the face of financial benefit is at the moment the most important illness of the political class in Moldova. The leaders of the protests, considered that the cure and the end of crisis could only take place with early elections. According to recent polls, in case of early elections, alleged pro-European parties would not be elected anymore which could lead to the formation of a new political class. The question is when will be the time for political change in Moldova? In this regard there are only two scenarios: civil society protests will bring the much needed early elections or the people will have to wait three years until the current legislative mandate expires. The currently existing political parties, both the alleged pro-European and those that promote closer relations with the Russian Federation, have no political vision and have compromised too much, and have lost all credibility in the eyes of voters. This has certainly created a context favorable for the launching of extra-parliamentary parties, mostly actively by the participation in popular protests.
One of the raising stars in Moldovan politics is Maia Sandu, a former Minister of Education and a graduate of the prestigious Harvard University (USA). Mrs. Sandu announced the registration of a political party whose program will target systematic reforms in order to set the bases for a real market economy built on liberal principles. The Dignity and Truth Platform Party (PPDA) is another political party that declares to be pro-European and which has very high chances to accede to the Parliament in case of early elections. The population is looking for upright politicians, non-corrupt, that can generate changes and here come all these new parties certainly promising a different government, cleaner and free of corruption.
The lesson to be learned from the events of recent months is that political alliances and signing of parliamentary mutual support documents among parties have no longer any value in Moldova. Voters have started to realise that the Alliance for European Integration formed after early elections in July 2009, and which lasted in various different formulae for several years, resisted only because of the threat of a return of the Communist Party as the leading party. Vladimir Voronin’s party is now almost forgotten. Vlad Filat’s arrest, the party switching of several deputies, or the lack of action in relation bank frauds in large scale cases, the suspicions of corruption or the blackmailing of some politicians, decisions taken in a closed circle, are the new realities of party politics in Moldova. At the moment Moldova is a country with a long-term strategy and does not even seem to have a common national goal. European integration seems still to be a very difficult challenge, a very far-away goal, very hard to achieve. And politicians continue to manipulate the public with election lies, forgetting them just one day after the elections. In this context, the prospects for a future democratic and European Moldova are very low.
Photo source: http://jurnal.md/en/economic/2016/2/23/new-excises-proposed-for-cigarettes-are-too-low-government-filip-accused-that-does-not-use-all-internal-leverages-for-accumulating-money-in-budget-but-asks-from-exterior/