Half a year ago, in the presidential elections, the Autonomous Territorial Unit (ATU) of Gagauzia was the electoral area of one political force, of the Party of Socialists. Its candidate Igor Dodon in the runoffs gained almost 95% of the vote, while in the presidential elections of 2019, the PSRM was preferred by over 70% of the Gagauz voters. Similar results were achieved by Vladimir Voronin and his Party of Communists earlier. In the snap parliamentary elections of July 11, the Communists and the Socialists will run in a bloc, but the support they hope to muster in the ATU could be much lower than theor previous results.
“As earlier” no longer works
The secret of the Communists’ and Socialists’ popularity with the Gagauz voters resides not only in the made efforts, but also in the lack of serious competition on the part of other representatives of the left and, in particular, of the right. The message of the main administrators of the Gagauz “electoral capital” was based on simple theses, such as “Russia is our strategic partner” and “we will defend the rights of Gagauzia”. This simple mix was seasoned with harsh criticism of the activity of the pro-European parties that, to say it honestly, didn’t hesitate to give reasons for it.
But things changed in time and “as earlier” no longer works now. The earlier slogans that weren’t based on convincing actions currently attract less attention, while other political projects began to more actively explore the domestic political space.
The Civic Congress (Cc), which is the project of Mark Tkachuk, Iurie Muntean and other descendants of Vladimir Voronin’s team, identifies itself as one of the opponents of the PCRM-PSRM bloc in the fight for the support of the inhabitants of Gagauz-Yeri. At the end of this February, the Cc presented its program in Comrat and later informed about its intention to run in the elections to the People’s Assembly. The local staff of the Cc is not so large and includes several visible figures, among who are former Socialists who are managers of large industries.
Last week, Vulcănești hosted the conference to constitute the local organization of Ion Chicu’s Party of Development and Unity. The local organization will be managed by the former head of Vulcănești district Vasilisa Velixar, while ex-head of the same district Georghii Terzi will serve as vice manager. It should be noted that the two earlier formed part of the Socialists’ team.
The local organization of the Party of Action and Solidarity was created in Comrat about half a year ago. The given party is in a strange situation. On the one hand, it has considerable potential to develop and attract new members. On the other hand, some of its leaders do their best for this not to happen. It goes to MP Oazu Nantoi’s statements about the region’s powers and the actions of the PAS informal leader Maia Sandu in relation to the Bashkan of Gagauz-Yeri. By the way, the reasons why President Sandu decided not to include Irina Vlah in the makeup of the Supreme Security Council are yet unclear and are interpreted in the region as anti-Gagauzia.
Virtues and blunders of Socialists
For the inhabitant of Gagauzia, Vladimir Voronin and the Party of Communists, with their pluses and minuses, merits and gaffes, are a turned page. There are big doubts that the current attempts to “galvanize” politician Vladimir Nikolayevich will produce any result. His presence in the electoral bloc is rather symbolical in character and is aimed at giving the impression of unity on the segment of the left. Consequently, the Socialists should bear responsibility for the results of the alliance between the Communists and the Socialists.
Evidently, it would be a big mistake to ‘bury’ the Party of Socialists and, in particular, to underappreciate its positions in Gagauzia. This party continues to have the most developed party bodies and the largest staff in the region. The Socialists and Igor Dodon as their leader are well known in all the settlements of the ATU and no one can compete with them from equal positions in this regard.
The skeptical estimates appear while examining the practical actions taken by the Socialists in relation to Gagauz-Yeri the past few years and the steps taken by them at the start of the election campaign. Such categorical assertions as “they didn’t do anything” are unsuitable here. But it is evident that the effervescent generosity of Dodon’s promises in the locals generated expectations that weren’t met. For example, most of the legislative initiatives concerting the powers of ATU Gagauzia formulated by the Socialist parliamentary group didn’t garner sufficient support in Parliament, while some of the decisions (concerning the allocation of money for infrastructure projects in Gagauzia) taken by the Government of Ion Chicu, who was until recently regarded a s member of Dodon’s team, can be attributed by the ex-Premier to himself.
The pre-electoral platforms with which the parties can appear before the voters in Gagauzia are obviously to the detriment of the Socialists. The Civic Congress and Ion Chicu’s party lay emphasis on economic, ecological and social development projects that should be the trump card of the Socialists. But the latter decided to simplify, if not to primitize, their program, promising to protect the country from NATO, the Union and the threats to the traditional values.
The agenda adopted by the Communists and the Socialists to many seems outdated and died for multiple times. This makes some not to go to the polls and others to turn their attention to alternative offers. This does not mean that the Gagauz voters changed. This means that the parties that benefitted from full support abused the approach “this is good enough”.
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.