2 – RM. Keeps on falling
BSSB.BE intellinews.com 02.09.2016
“The presidential elections came about as a way to distract citizens who were angry and frustrated with the lack of progress on the big problems Moldova is facing – weak rule of law and the increasing capture of state institutions,” says Belan. “Even if whoever wins is a genuine pro-EU reformer, I don’t think they will be able to address these big issues because the parliament and other state institutions are part of the system that created the problems of corruption and state capture.”
Cenusa warns that, “All institutions in Moldova are vulnerable in front of powerful oligarchic interests, so we can expect that sooner or later the presidency can have an experience similar to the parliament, executive power or lower level institutions … overall, the idea of direct presidential elections constitutes a solution, but the Moldovan context can modify it if the depoliticisation and the phenomenon of the ‘state capture’ are not counteracted.”
- Four candidates, including Dodon and former Prime Minister Iurie Leanca, have said they will stand.
- Dodon has consistently been ahead in the polls, while second and third place have typically been held by two pro-EU opposition figures – former Education Minister Maia Sandu and Adrian Nastase, the leader of Dignity and Truth, a new party that grew out of mass anti-corruption protests in 2015.
- The two parties together with the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova are expected to pick a single candidate – most likely Nastase or Sandu – to give them the best chance of beating Dodon in the second round of voting.
- With elections coming up in first Moldova then Transnistria this autumn, more interference form Russia is virtually inevitable.
A report from the Institute for the Study of War public policy research institute warns that Russia could decide to try and destabilise Moldova in the run-up to the election to prevent a strong pro-EU president being elected.
Prime Minister Pavel Filip has been increasingly outspoken against Russia, slamming recent military drills in Transnistria and stressing the country’s western orientation in a post for the US Congress blog. Moldova also moved in July to restrict broadcasts of Russian television – another step threatening Moscow’s interests in the country.
For their part, pro-EU politicians from both government and opposition are reaching out to the West, some from genuine desire to seek help with reforms, others more because the EU and other western institutions are the most likely source of financial support.
The decision by Romania to disburse the first tranche of a €150mn budget support loan and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreement to sign a deal with a loan attached come in advance of the elections and could sway some voters. However, the IMF deal is dependent on Moldova resolving the bank fraud issue, which is unlikely to happen any time soon.
In many ways the future for Moldova looks bleak. A poor and tiny state, to a growing degree captured by an oligarchy whose interests do not align with the majority of the population, torn in two by opposing geopolitical forces.
Whether this process of capture is consolidated in the upcoming elections by a victory for the ruling coalition’s candidate will be revealed in October. But there is still scope for opposition, as shown by the emergence of genuine opposition forces in the last two years – Dignity and Truth and Sandu’s Party for Action and Solidarity. Moreover, a growing number of Moldovans are still angry about the bank frauds and the lack of reform, and have been ready to take to the streets in huge numbers.
“It seems to me that Moldova is not completely captured; Moldova is on the cusp,” says Belan. “The presidential elections and events over the next few months – specifically how Moldova addresses the issue of the stolen billion – will show the direction the country is going in.” How events unfold in the coming months could therefore determine whether Moldova has any hope remaining for a better future.
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