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13 October 2019
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Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises

Ion PREAŞCĂ

20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

Last week illustrated
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Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

Opportunism and pragmatism on eve of anticipated elections

Anticipated elections in Republic of Moldova generated yet another reason for cleavages within the society. In the deadlock situation when none of the political parties from the Moldovan parliament can vote a new president, all the involved actors have limited space for maneuvers and are not willing to make any concessions since the costs for avoiding a new cycle of the political crisis are too high.
Petru Culeac, 27 May 2009, 14:53

The motives of the opposition parties seem to be quite clear, for them the current parliament is a result of the elections that were falsified by the ruling Party of Communists. Even knowing that, some representatives of the opposition have admited the fact that negotiations with the ruling party could be considered only if the communists fulfill a given set of conditions and with the mediation of international representatives. The communists however continue to have quite an ambiguous behaviour when they declare on one side their readiness for dialogue with the opposition, while in the same tagging the opposition with various indecent terms. In order to find a solution to the political crisis we have to analyse the interests of key players in this conundrum and take a closer look at the alternatives they can choose from as well as the risks and costs generated by each of the existing alternatives.

 

Alternatives available to the Party of Communists

Power and its consolidation have been among the main concerns of the president Voronin in the last eight years since he rules Moldova. What do people with power want? ... even more power. This fact has been and continues to be confirmed by the perseverance that the communists have been displaying all these years in building their „vertical axis of power”, while imitating a democratic process for the viewing and listening pleasure of the European officials. All the administrative resources hijacked by the communists, including mass-media, puppet political parties, police and secret services, constitute a powerful political arsenal that was applied in order to ensure the victory of the communists in the parliamentary elections of this spring. Thus the April 5 elections resulted in a massive presence of the communists in the parliament although insufficient for absolute control over this institution. The main alternatives the communists have at this moment, are either to preserve the status-quo or wait for the anticipated elections.

 

The first alternative is that the Party of Communists chooses to keep the „bird in hand”, meaning that until May 28, they will obtain the vote that they lack, by finding a suitable member of the parliament to be convinced by every possible method to vote for a communist presidential candidate. This scenario will mean a double gain for the communists: first they manage to avoid anticipated elections, the second and more important fact is that a pro-communist vote of an opposition member will definitely lead to the political death of the party that will provide the missing 61st vote. More than that, this „golden vote” will hit hard the entire opposition, its reputation already being shaken by the post-electoral events as well as by the negative media campaign triggered by the ruling communist party. Such developments will certainly lead to a deeper decline of the trust that the population has in the opposition parties, their further existence being thus highly questionable.

 

In the same time it is obvious that the election of Mr. Voronin as parliament speaker and the concentration of all the decision making authority within the parliament, the president's post becomes purely decorative and will be handed over to an easily manipulated person. However, the communists try to convince everyone that the post of the president continues to be important for them. Still the stubbornness they display in proposing presidential candidates incapable of triggering at least some discussion within the opposition, unveils the further plans of the communists, as well as the utmost confidence in their potential for a new electoral campaign. What is this confidence based upon? The communists' presumptuousness relies on their impertinence. The communists have already made clear for everybody that they do not care about the law, and this confidence indicates to the fact that the Party of Communists will not stop in front of anything and will not hesitate to use any available means to secure a constitutional majority after the anticipated elections. If this certainty of the communists is not a bluff then this show we are witnessing is in fact part of a series of subtle maneuvers where the communists use the presidential position as a bait in order to engage the opposition parties in a game where they have few chances for victory.

 

Given the aforementioned, the second alternative of the communists can be an attempt to maximize the number of their parliament members in order to obtain the much sought constitutional majority. In such a case, the parliament speaker Voronin will allow the opposition parties to trigger the anticipated elections. On a short term this step is a risky one for the communists, first because of a troubled image of the ruling party as a result of the April 7 events, but also due to a possible inflow of optimism and enthusiasm within the ranges of opposition supporters. Second, the communists will have to face the risk of having to deal with an anti-communist alliance, composed of the three liberal parties from the parliament. In these circumstances the Party of Communists will use all tools to diminish these risks and secure an absolute victory in the repeated elections. In the worse case scenario the communists will aim to have at least a sufficient number of MPs needed to block again the elections of the new president.

 

A third possible but less probable option for the communists is to initiate negotiations with the opposition. This has been attempted already, through the dispatching of three representatives of the PCRM to negotiate with the opposition parties. It is quite difficult to assess the sincerity of this maneuver of the communists, knowing the advantages that they could receive from anticipated elections.

 

Having these alternatives to chose from, the further actions of the communists depend on the amount of risk they are willing to take. Given the fact that Mark Tkaciuc, the councillor of president Voronin, has stated that PCRM does not intend to use a “golden vote” considering this step a “bad smelling” one, leads us to the idea that PCRM plans after all to follow the second alternative, expecting another victory in order to obtain the constitutional majority.

 

Alternatives available to the opposition parties

The parliamentary opposition has declared repeatedly that the April 5 elections have been falsified by the ruling Party of Communists, this makes the current parliament an illegitimate and unrepresentative one, thus anticipated parliamentary elections being the only solution to the deadlock. This attitude is meant to save the credibility of the opposition parties with regard to their constituencies, and offers the opportunity for changing the balance of forces within the parliament. The alternatives available to the opposition parties are also limited as follows.

 

Theoretically the opposition parties could vote for a presidential candidate proposed by the communists, thus keeping their parliamentary seats for another term of four years. This would be indeed a comfortable solution for an opportunistic party lacking vision and political potential, since the consequences of this solution are extremely negative in the long run. History has already proven the fatality of such a vote. That is why, such an option can be suicidal for the three opposition parties, their support for a communist candidate risking to discredit the opposition once and for good.

 

The second alternative available to the opposition parties is to block the elections of a communist candidate and trigger the anticipated parliamentary elections. The main risks for the opposition parties in this case would be to fail obtaining the sufficient number of MPs needed to elect the president or obtain even less MPs than they currently have. There can be several causes for such a defeat, and the predicted low voter turnout is not the most important one. In the case of anticipated elections the main dangers will lie in the preservation of the same unfair environment that marked the April 5 parliamentary elections. The opposition has to decide how can it prevent the massive abuse of the administrative resources by the ruling party, and counter the negative effects of the propaganda conducted by the communist controlled mass-media.

 

One of the solutions to these risks would be the creation of a common opposition force that would insure a coherent electoral campaign and a greater mobilization of the anticommunist electorate. The establishment of an united anticommunist alliance would increase the credibility of the opposition parties and will prevent the scattering of the anticommunist votes. This step can be a vital one, that could save the democracy in Moldova and will help avoid the deepening of the political crisis. The post-electoral behaviour of the opposition parties makes us believe that this scenario is realistic and can be implemented. The events that followed the April 5 parliamentary elections, had a visible impact on the opposition parties that managed to pass the electoral threshold. Being faced with the aggressiveness and cynicism of the ruling party and having to deflect the communists' attacks, the opposition parties created a sort of a common defence confederation. Nevertheless it is too early to celebrate the unification of the democratic forces, since this construct imposed by the circumstances is still too fragile. The manner in which the opposition will conduct its electoral campaign for the anticipated elections as well as their result will show the level of political maturity of the opposition parties in Moldova.

 

The third alternative available to the opposition parties would be to hold negotiations with the ruling Party of Communists in order to reach an agreement. This could refer to the possible “reward” or compromises from the part of the PCRM for the election of a president, and could include key positions in the government, promises of implementation of certain reforms, assuring the freedom of mass-media, etc. This option sounds attractive since it eliminates the necessity of a new exhausting electoral campaign with very unpredictable results. However, this is a very dangerous game since the Party of Communists showed already many times that it does not intend to accommodate other opinions but their own with regard to their ruling of the country. More than that, in the past the communists proved that they are not capable of productive partnerships nor are they willing to offer any guaranties to back the promises they make.

 

Trojan horse

In addition to the aforementioned risks that are facing the political parties depending on the scenario they choose to follow, there is another factor that could jeopardize the opposition chances of victory in the anticipated elections. This factor is the participation of the puppet parties that underperformed  in the previous elections, but are still seeking to participate in the new elections even if they have absolutely no chances of passing over the electoral threshold of 6 percents. These outsiders of the Moldovan politics will play again their part – that of detracting a significant part of votes from the main democratic parties, in order to give a share of these votes to the communist party. 

 

Conclusion

The risks that one or another political actor is willing to take depend on many factors such as for example the existence of certain material or immaterial values that can be lost as a result of a wrong decision, the loss of image and credibility, etc. Both the Pary of Communists as well as the opposition parties, risk to lose something. In case of failure, the communists lose the most. Knowing this, the communists will be forced to use every means available to secure their victory in the new parliamentary elections.

 

The opposition shall consider carefully all the available alternatives as well as the risks associated with following one or another of these alternatives. Either way, out of these options the only viable one with a certain margin of success for the opposition parties is the that of anticipated elections, with the condition that the opposition parties will run for parliament as one united force, this providing them with better chances for success.

 

May 26, 2009

 

*****

Petru Culeac is a research fellow at Vienna School of Governance, Austria.

 

 

 



Readers' comments
Recent comments:
iannn, 31 August 2009, 10:20
The instinctual freedom to be free; which transcends political negativity has surfaced to the forefront. The progression now in flow since late July comes from the heart of the people of Moldova. The credit is within this;
at a juncture of possibilities; the heart spoke the bravest.
Many admire this; let no one say that in crisis, the people of Moldova shrinked; all the evidence points to a brave emerging democracy.
An example; set by the few; for the many others under oppression in this world.
iannn, 23 June 2009, 9:48
The electorate should be made aware of the failures of the communist party with campaigning by all the opposition parties.
'Yes we can' attitude to stimulate the deisire for change. Getting a positive message of change to the people will have to be relentless to combat the state oppression machine.
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