2 – War of roses in Moldova
BSSB.BE moldovanpolitics.com 01.02.2016
For years Moldova has been depicted as the poorest, most corrupt and least developed country in Europe. Moldovans have long come to terms with their country’s negative image, rivalled only by its obscurity.
Worsening economic conditions have bolstered anti-government sentiment. Despite this, the ruling parties have been instrumental in containing the protest by denying media access, defaming organisers and sabotaging public rallies.
- Furthermore, the government has benefited from a lack of unity among protesters, both within the civic platform and within the left-wing pro-Russian opposition. Moreover, this disharmony has been most keenly felt between these two large groups. Protesters from both left and right-wing camps are clearly undermining each other instead of working together to achieve common goals.
- Apart from ideology and geopolitical preferences, there may also be a rather mundane explanation for this. There have been numerous allegations in the media about pro-Russian forces being influenced, at least in part, by Plahotniuc.
These two relatively new players on the national political scene appear to have an increasingly powerful grip on the vast left leaning pro-Russian electorate disillusioned with the communists’ recent track record.
The socialists, led by former communist Igor Dodon, and Our Party, led by controversial businessman Renato Usatii, have been propelled to nationwide notoriety after staging a protest of their own: a broken mirror reflection of the civic protest movement. Therefore, the protests have been increasingly viewed as a proxy war between political groups in power. The most disheartening fact is the vast majority of the people attending these rallies on both sides are genuinely frustrated with the status quo, but their sincere display of civic indignation appears to have been hijacked by the political establishment.
The situation is still in flux, but socioeconomic conditions are prone to deteriorate quickly, particularly if a new government is not appointed in due time or if the government fails to agree on a memorandum with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Financial support promised by Romania was put on hold pending a resolution to the political crisis in Chișinău.
Therefore, it is clear a new government is unlikely to ensure a budgetary lifeline from elsewhere and will be forced to accept the IMF’s demands, creating inflationary pressures and cornering the political establishment even further. Macroeconomic indicators are worrying while the recent spike in energy prices is likely to contribute to even greater popular dissatisfaction (which has the potential to trigger a mass revolt the government could not contain).
At the same time, as Moldovans grow increasingly disillusioned with the last few years’ so-called democratic transformation, there is a real danger of the country sliding into authoritarianism. Moldova has been fortunate enough to avoid this thus far, not by virtue of intention, but rather by circumstance.
- It is a well-known fact that populism thrives in times of economic and political turmoil. Therefore, it is highly unsurprising that Renato Usatii, the leader of the populist Our Party, is currently the most trusted politician in Moldova and could win a direct presidential election.
- It is still unclear if the next president will be elected within the parliament or whether the constitution will be amended to allow direct elections. Either way, Usatii will not be eligible until 2018, when he turns 40.
However, the second most trusted politician in the country, according to a recent poll commissioned by the International Republic Institute, is Harvard-educated World Bank economist, Maia Sandu. She unswervingly carried out painful yet necessary reforms during her three-year tenure as education minister, which ended abruptly with the fall of the Gaburici government in June 2015.
She is considering launching a political project and is currently weighing up her options. In light of the ongoing political crisis’ uncertain outcome and lacking funds for party building, Sandu has been hesitant to fully take advantage of her political capital but remained outspoken. The former minister cannot hide her disappointment about the fact that, while high calibre professionals have made sacrifices to accept low paying jobs in the public sector, “the rest of the team is stealing a billion dollars”. Needless to say, the dim hope of alleviating the human capital deficit in Moldova’s public sector is now more distant than ever.
As a result, the immediate future of the country looks bleak. The political establishment has been running the country into the ground with an occasional helping hand from the opposition. None of the major political parties have a credible plan for turning the country around. Mounting social pressure will further push the country towards the brink.
However, instead of assigning guilt, I would encourage politicians to look for possible remedies.
As there is currently neither a short nor medium term local solution available, international partners need to step in. There is clearly no silver bullet. However, the idea of capacity building among the country’s weakened and demoralised civil society never gets old.
Although imperfect, it is the best hope for kick-starting a failing democratic process and re-energising a deeply disillusioned nation. Even so, the bigger question remains: how can Moldova build a sustainable culture of citizenship that nourishes critical thinking and learns to view the government as its agent and not its master?
Euroskepticism Economy Crisis
- project-syndicate.org – Europe`s on the Brink. History tells us that the answer is an emphatic no. Sixty years ago, with Europe’s economy reeling from the destruction caused by World War II, Europe’s leaders lifted their eyes above daily hardships to shape a more hopeful future, underpinned by European integration. That same vision and foresight is needed today, and the European Union, with its unmatched ability to facilitate regional cooperation, will remain essential. It is time for Europe’s leaders to break the decades-old habit of pursuing half-baked projects that blunt the symptoms of crises, and to implement real reforms that address the root causes. Only with a new approach – and tangible progress – can solidarity within Europe be regained. Nonetheless, the EU and its institutions remain integral to efforts to respond to challenges that require a united front – challenges like those that Europe faces today.
- md – All eyes on Chisinau. During the meeting from today, the protesters voted unanimously a resolution through which they state the definitive seizure of all state institutions. “The only salvation of the existence itself of the state Republic of Moldova is the replacement of the current political class, through early elections in democratic conditions, with a government of popular trust, monitored by the UN and the international institutions”, is said in the resolution which is lower. The only salvation of the existence itself of the state Republic of Moldova is the replacement of the current political class, through early elections in democratic conditions, with a government of popular trust, monitored by the UN and the international institutions.
- com – Hurricane Moldova. Moldova’s Jan. 20 parliamentary vote to approve the new government ended nearly three months of political deadlock in a country that plays an important role in the competition between Russia and the West in the former Soviet periphery. The previous government, led by former Prime Minister Valeriu Strelet, collapsed Oct. 29, 2015 after Strelet lost a no-confidence vote over allegations of corruption. Protesters are still on the premises at the time of this writing, albeit in lesser numbers. Representatives of some smaller pro-West factions, such as the Civil Platform for Dignity and Truth and the party recently formed around former Education Minister Maia Sandu, have also gathered to protest the new government, accusing it of weakness and corruption given its ties to Plahotniuc. In the case of yet another government collapse, early elections probably would be unavoidable and would give Moldova’s pro-Russia elements the chance to stall, if not reverse, Moldova’s efforts to integrate with the European Union.