The result of the recent local elections caused a natural feeling of concern about the irreversibility of the European development course of the Republic of Moldova. The previous elections were both a test for the security of the Republic of Moldova and the first serious electoral assessment for the PAS, which has been in power since 2021. Even if the danger of the war in Ukraine doesn’t threaten to directly spill over into the Republic of Moldova, Russia instead applies new strategies for bringing the country back under its sphere of influence and for transforming it into an additional threat to Ukraine. Moscow persevered in the local elections of 2023 in the obtaining of positions of power at the local level, pursuing the objective of influencing the future national elections in the Republic of Moldova – the presidential election of 2024 and the parliamentary elections of 2025.
A cold shower
To the mind of a number of experts, the election results for the PAS are more than a cold shower. After two years of government in difficult conditions, when the effects of the pandemic were felt fully, the necessity of managing the Ukrainian refugee crisis, the worsening of the economic problems with an inflation rate of over 30%, the energy blackmail of Russia, the punishment of the ruling party owing to the slow reforms in the justice sector and for the lack of vision in managing the economy became a reality. Furthermore, the PAS hasn’t overcome the shortcomings in public communication and hasn’t managed to identify and grow new leaders, keeping exclusively Maia Sandu as an electoral engine.
The PAS government didn’t manage to turn the European development option into a categorically dominant one in Moldovan society. The civilizational cleavages continue to divide the community of Moldovan citizens into two approximately equal camps. The supporters of the European development course are only slightly higher in number than their opponents from the Eurasian course camp. The pro-European camp is represented by two large political currents – Euro-sovereignists and Euro-unionists – which differ from each other by the criterion of the way of accession to the European Union. The first plead for the Republic of Moldova’s accession to the EU as a sovereign state, while the Euro-unionists embrace the option of joining the European community by restoring the national Romanian unity – the political union of the Republic of Moldova with Romania.
No influential Euro-unionist party
The Euro-sovereignist option is dominated politically by the PAS. No influential Euro-unionist party appeared yet on the authentic pro-European segment after the local elections. This situation can seriously affect the Republic of Moldova’s perspectives of joining the EU when it is highly improbable that the PAS will obtain again a parliamentary majority in the future elections. It is enough to note here that in the elections of November 5 and 19, 2023, the ruling party failed to obtain seats of mayor in all the 11 municipalities and also in most of the cities. The PAS suffered yet the bitterest defeat in the competition for Chisinau, where a victory was scored in the first round of voting by the incumbent mayor Ion Ceban – a former member of the PSRM and one of the most ardent opponents and critics of the PAS’s policy. In 2019, Ceban won his first term of mayor with the support of the pro-Russians from the PSRM. He won the current term of mayor of Chisinau as the candidate of the Party “National Alternative Movement”, which the PAS accuses of false European orientation.
One more unpleasant question for the PAS is how and why the ruling party failed to win a majority in the suburban settlements of Chisinau, which in the past were constantly the golden electoral reserve of the national camp. So, the messages like “PAS takes us to the EU”, “Moldova civic nation”, “In the EU we will meet with Romania” no longer have the expected electoral impact. The electoral enthusiasm of the pro-Europeans diminished visibly, causing absenteeism at the polls. The electoral absenteeism contaminated the most the Euro-unionist segment that at the previous presidential and parliamentary elections, in the absence of a unionist candidate and party with chances, voted in a consolidated way for the representatives of the Euro-sovereignist current, Maia Sandu and the PAS. But this time, not even the narrative that the incumbent mayor of Chisinau Ion Ceban is Russia’s protégée could help. The unionist electorate is increasingly disappointed with the pro-European government, which is incapable and doesn’t have a view on the economic and state reform in general and, in particular, on the national emancipation policy in a society with colonial complexes that haven’t been yet overcome.
Powerful Euro-unionist pole required
After the recent local elections, the improbability of perpetuating the domination of the Euro-sovereignist current over the whole Europeanist political segment on the Moldovan political arena became clear. It is now urgently necessary to constitute a powerful Euro-unionist pole able to revive the electoral enthusiasm among the voters with unionist views so as to this way overcome the electoral absenteeism in this large group of Moldovan society. A single national list of Euro-unionists in elections, which would lead to the formation of a large unionist parliamentary group – a natural ally of the sovereignists from the PAS in the perpetuation of the European course for the Republic of Moldova – is the panacea.
It would be a serious mistake for the PAS’s team of electoral strategy exports to believe that the unionist voters at the future elections will also vote in a consolidated way for the representatives of the current government. The vote at the local elections in the suburban settlements of Chisinau should serve as a clear warning that invalidates the illusion of such a conviction as regards the electoral predispositions of the unionists. The unionist voters are the most pro-Europeanist voters and there is no danger that these can vote for anti-European parties. The danger resides in electoral absenteeism on the unionist segment, which was so evident at the local elections in the suburban localities of Chisinau and which was generated by the faults in the Romanian identity policies pursued by the PAS.
...but will guarantee a pro-European majority in Parliament
It is evident that the formation of a Euro-unionist political pole cemented inside by one national list for the parliamentary elections will reduce the number of PAS’s seats of MP in the upcoming elections, but will increase or will at least guarantee the keeping of a majority in Parliament for the pro-Europeanists through the union of the representatives of both currents – Euro-sovereignist and Euro-unionist - into a pro-European government coalition. A credible Euro-unionist force at the future national elections will lead to maximum mobilization of the unionist electoral segment that is sociologically measured at 30-40% of the total number of elections and will avoid the loss of votes owing to electoral absenteeism on this segment. As the PAS shows that it will be unable to repeat the electoral success obtained at the previous parliamentary elections and will not be able by itself to form the future parliamentary majority, the imperative of forming the Euro-unionist political pole becomes the only guarantee of the perpetuation of the European course of the Republic of Moldova.
IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.