By Natalia Timuş (Maastricht University)

The failure of yet another government in the Republic of Moldova, after only five months since its creation, has proven that a minority government is an unrealistic scenario (as predicted before by the author)[1] for an emerging post-Soviet democracy, even for one of the promising pro-democratic reformers since early 1990s, like Moldova.

A straightforward analysis of what happened since the appointment of the Gaburici government in February 2015 does not reveal the deeper the roots of the seemingly popular Moldovan game ‘Who wants to become a prime minister?’, which has been ongoing since the 2009 political crisis. In this opinion piece I aim at analysing the failure of the Gaburici government and the appointment of the new Strelet government through the double lenses of an academic experts and a Moldovan citizen directly affected by the ongoing political crisis.

Firstly, based on the recent government formation, it is clear that the Moldovan political parties are largely driven by strategic behaviour and benefit maximising calculations, specifically short-term calculations, which prevents them from joining the efforts in reaching compromises even as long as for one electoral mandate. This reality confirms our earlier work on the subject, highlighting that EU leverage on democratic reforms within East European outsiders primarily depends on the degree of discretion of the ruling elites in adapting to EU requirements (see Timus 2010, 2013)[2]. Although the previous pro-European coalition has been strongly claiming that the signing and the implementation of the EU Association agreement (AA) represent their main drivers of the domestic reforms, little has been done since the signing of the AA in Vilnius in 2013. As the newly appointed Prime Minister Strelet has declared, Moldova is lagging behind with approximately 40% of the implementation of the AA (source), this being mainly the result of the ongoing political struggle between the major Moldovan parties. One can conclude that the domestic elites have failed the European and democratic test, also acknowledged within the Brussels circles.

Secondly, the Moldovan political context reveals the lack of accountability and transparency regarding the selection of political leaders, as well as their democratic role of representing the people of the country. Gaburici scandal disclosed the falsified information regarding the education background of the Prime Minister nominated by the PLDM, one of the leading political parties, and the lack of public transparency regarding the profiles of advanced political leaders. Gaburici was presented by his party as a new face with a clean past (lacking in fact any political experience), ready to offer a new beginning for Moldovan politics. While the journalistic scandal around his profile was ongoing for several months, Gaburici declared his decision of leaving the PM office right on the eve of the local elections in June 2015, aggravating the uncertainty and the political crisis.

So what is next? It appears that no matter who is nominated and approved by the majority of parties as a PM, the faith of the new executive leader is the same, serving merely as a puppet of the hidden ruling powers of Moldovan politics. The last leaders holding this position failed to prove to be true executive leaders with their own agenda and decision-making powers, as one can witness it in advanced parliamentary democracies. Even the new Moldovan PM, V.Strelet, acknowledged himself that some perceive him as a docile person, without principles and objectives.[3]

Changing the PM, no matter the specific reason for it, does not imply solving the old problems such as the incremental political corruption and the deeply intertwined political and economic interests of the ruling elites. As long as politicians are more concerned with the number of ministerial portfolios and official functions their party will obtain rather than with their commitment to democratic and pro-European values, there is no hope for breaking the vicious circle of political crisis and leading towards a better, European future in the Republic of Moldova.

Photo source: UNIMEDIA/Igor Rotari

[1] Timuş, N. “A democratic and European stern test for Moldovan political elite,” Blogpost, 23 March 2015, available at https://whogoverns.eu/a-democratic-and-european-stern-test-for-moldovan-political-elite/, accessed 12 August 2015.

[2] Timuş, N. 2010. «The Impact of European Democracy Promotion on Party Financing in the East European Neighbourhood,» European Integration online Papers (EIoP), 12 august ed., http://eiop.or.at/eiop/index.php/eiop/article/view/2010_003a (1 nov. 2014); Timuş, N. 2013. «Democracy for Export: the Europeanisation of Electoral Laws in the East European Neighbourhood,» East European Politics, 29(3): 289-304.

[3] See his recent declaration for Unimedia, available at http://unimedia.info/stiri/video-ce-simte-valeriu-strelet-atunci-cand-este-comparat-cu-maia-sandu-si-vlad-filat-99114.html, accessed on 13 August 2015.