2 – A Moldovan-style oligarchy
BSSB.BE osw.waw.pl 17.06.2016
Five years of ‘Euro-imitation’
From the perspective of the parties currently in power in Moldova, European integration is interesting as an idea which makes it possible to attract the pro-European electorate. It is also considered a source of aid funds and loans. However, the real dimension of European integration, involving modernising the country by way of implementing necessary reforms, is not favourable for the coalition leaders because it poses a threat to their business dealings.
This is why, despite five years of rule by a coalition composed of pro-European parties which from the beginning announced their intention to modernise Moldova in the Western style, the country has not been subject to any structural reconstruction concerning how the state institutions operate.
Huge aid funds worth hundreds of millions of euros granted by the EU as part of support for reform programmes did not help much. For example, attempts at limiting the scale of ever-present, endemic corruption permeating all spheres of life in Moldova – from the judiciary through the financial sector to the schooling system and healthcare – have proved unsuccessful.
During the coalition’s rule, the scale of corruption increased further, which is evidenced by a drop of Moldova’s position in the Corruption Perceptions Index ranking list run by Transparency International – from 89th position in 2009 to 103rd in 2014.
Only 7% of Moldovans assess the effectiveness of the state’s anti-corruption actions as positive. During the rule of the pro-European parties, the National Anti-Corruption Centre, in place since 2002, which was supposed to be de-politicised and reformed to a degree even larger than during the rule of the Communists, was used mainly as an instrument of wielding political power.
The reorganisation of the Moldovan judiciary has not been successful, either.
- Appropriate legislation required by the EU concerning the reform of the judiciary was adopted, but was never implemented.
- This is why this area has remained corruption-ridden, ineffective and deeply subordinated to political influence.
- As a result of the dearth of real changes, since 2009 the level of society’s confidence in the judiciary has fallen from 37% to 23%. The weakness of the Moldovan judiciary and its dependence on political factors is clearly visible for example in the fact that the circumstances of the events of 7 April 2009 are still to be explained and the perpetrators have not been sentenced.
Similarly, no administrative reform to de-centralise the state has been implemented. Initial changes in this respect were officially launched in January 2012 as part of the implementation of the “national decentralisation strategy”. The political parties which are currently in power are not really interested in transferring a portion of central competencies to the regions (this concerns budgetary issues in particular), as this would reduce the opportunities to use local administration officials, currently controlled by the ruling parties, for example to carry out electoral canvassing.
The system of power which emerged in Moldova, dominated by two oligarchs who control the two major political parties, is extremely difficult to change. This is because the integration of the state’s institutions with business circles is very deep and has no precedent in the history of Moldova after 1991.
The potential loss of political influence by representatives of the ruling elite would spell a very serious weakening of their business position. This was evident for example in the case of Oleg Voronin, son of PCRM’s leader, who lost a major part of his income after the Communists withdrew from power in 2009.
To some degree, the economic position of Moldovan oligarchs has been a result of their control over lucrative private businesses and the simultaneous creation of favourable conditions for their operation by exerting influence on the government.
However, what is fundamental to the exalted position of a portion of the Moldovan political and business elite is the oligarchs’ participation in the system of power and their access to the state’s financial transfers (including foreign aid) which results from it. It also enables this group to reap considerable profit from corrupt practices.
In this type of system, there is serious doubt as to whether Moldova can maintain a long-term pro-European orientation. It should be expected that if PLDM and PDM, supported by the Communists, continue to block the implementation of reforms they might perceive as a challenge to their interests, including the reform required by the Association Agreement (and this seems probable), Brussels will radically cut the financial aid granted to Moldova and will reduce political support it currently gives to Moldova’s coalition leaders.
It is beyond doubt that the functioning of the system of oligarchy which emerged in Moldova in recent years suits Russia.
Firstly, it slows down the process of Moldova’s integration with the EU (or even blocks it completely in the long-term perspective).
Furthermore, it makes it possible for the Kremlin to influence Moldova’s politics by corrupting business clans by way of economic and political arguments.
Moldova’s political elite is not really interested in the country’s deep reconstruction and comprehensive integration with European structures.
This leads to a situation in which Russia does not need to take any radical measures to stop the process of Moldova’s de-Sovietisation and the implementation of a European model of state and of the economy in Moldova.
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