Electoral publicity interpreted honestly: PCRM. Series of IPN analyses. Elections-2014

Most of the election runners entered the campaign preceding the November 30 parliamentary elections with electoral TV videos, posters, slogans and advertisements. By definition, the publicity is biased, but in the election campaign it represents the type of information that the voters accept most often. That’s why IPN decided to launch a series of analyses entitled “Electoral publicity interpreted honestly” by which to contribute to developing the political culture, analyzing neutrally the subtleties of the electoral advertisements. The election runners are analyzed in accordance with their position in ballots.

People who vote for Communists: guaranteed, but limited

The Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) was and is still regarded by many as a kind of monolith with devoted and stable supporters voting for it, which wasn’t affected by the defections of different members, including such important figures as Marian Lupu, Igor Dodon, Zinaida Greceanyi, Vadim Misin and, more recently, Mark Tkachuk and Grigore Petrenco. However, its popularity and influence diminish slowly, but steadily. After five years in the opposition, the party used up its resources, while the specific features of the people voting for it, with two large components - the ethnical, which is the national minorities, and age-related, which is the elderly people - show that the PCRM’s voter base declines for natural purposes as well.

Among all the parties of Moldova, the PCRM probably banks the most on its name, emblem and colors: the word ‘Communist’, the hammer and sickle, the red color are elements with enormous emotional and historical significance. In many, they cause nostalgia. For others, they mean the past ‘golden epoch’, but also totalitarianism associated with deportations and famine. The denial power of the Communist symbols is as great as the attraction and mobilization power. It’s yet certain that in the current format, the PCRM has a limited electoral potential: the same elements that allow it to attract and keep the people voting for it do not allow it to extend and attract new votes.

The leader-related problem

Another advantage-problem is the leader: the PCRM counts a lot on the image of Vladimir Voronin as a local, autocratic and independent leader. Though the Communists were and are considered by many pro-Russians, Vladimir Voronin has changed his speech and geopolitical orientation, including during his second term as head of state, and is even pro-European in parts. Many people, including those who vote for the right parties, approve of this independence of Voronin, especially compared with other political personages, such as Igor Dodon, who evidently services the Kremlin. However, Vladimir Voronin’s age is a serious problem for the Communists. He has practically no vitality and shows signs of senility. Even if Voronin has recently reaffirmed his authority in the party and cleared his team of ‘dishonest’ persons, it’s not clear if he will be able to manage the PCRM until the next, possibly early elections.

From this viewpoint, it is essential for the PCRM to return to power in this formula or another. The slogan “Only the PCRM, only Voronin!” is designed to mobilize the party’s supporters at a time when parties managed by former members of the PCRM are proliferating: Socials, Communists, Reformists or the Party “Renaissance”. It is a simple and even radical slogan partially, but its shows very well the real situation in the PCRM: only Voronin. If the analysts and those who follow the party closely know also other figures from the PCRM, for the ordinary voters, most of those who were the party’s ‘face’ disappeared. This is another reason why the PCRM should come to power and stop the decline: the party needs to show that it has a competent team and can do this only if it is in power. In a way, it is ironical that for gaining the chance to show its team, the PCRM now needs to concentrate on the image of Vladimir Voronin and identify the party’s image with it.

“Down with the Alliance!” by areas

In its video clips, the PCRM makes virulent attacks on the government, counting mainly on the idea of hypocrisy and lie based on the contrast between the desolate images and tragic scenes and the optimistic and triumphal statements of the representatives of the pro-European coalition. Thus, in the first video, we see a cart driver going through a filed let to lie fallow, with Minister of Agriculture Vasile Bumacov being heard speaking about how the Ministry’s policies support the producers. Afterward, we see buildings from kolkhozes and sovkhozes in ruins and rusty agricultural equipment. Different figures appear on the screen, showing the losses caused by the Association Agreement: wine production – US$150 million, cans and sugar production– US$350 million. It’s not clear how these figures were calculated, but taking into account the target pubic, their value does not really matter and is almost symbolical. The video continues with the voice of Vlad Filat, who speaks about “Moldova as a European state”, accompanied by depressing images. The contrast is powerful and efficient and comes to strengthen the stereotypes about the deceitful politicians. In the end, two villagers meet. One of them tells the other that he sees that the latter changed his tractor for plow and horse, while the second replies that he went bankrupt owing to the ruling ‘thieves’.

The manner of this video is typical of the next videos too. In the second video, statements made by Minister of Labor, Social Protection and Family Valentina Buliga and her party chief Marian Lupu are accompanied by images of the poverty of pensioners. The video is designed to be tragic, but it is rather comical owing to the excess of zeal emanated by two pensions saying they do not have bread and will have to sell something from the house. The subject is sad indeed and the video’s message may resonate powerfully with the persons who went through similar situations. The fifth video follows a similar pattern, but focuses on healthcare. It shows elderly women from villages who have access neither to the doctor because the medical unit was closed nor to drugs because they grew dearer. The sixth video centers on the education reform promoted by Maia Sandu, who is the preferred target of a number of election runners.

The black outcome of government

The second spot exploits the scandals that involved those from power. It begins with Plahotniuc accusing Filat of being the ‘smuggling king” and Filat saying that ‘the puppeteer cannot calm down’, referring to Plahotniuc. A protesting woman accuses then the two of sharing between them money and the airport, making reference to the scandals concerning Banca de Economii and the Chisinau airport. Afterward, there are heard a tapped discussion between Filat, then Prime Minister, and Nicolae Vicol, then head of the Main State Tax Inspectorate, the Constitutional Court’s decision saying that Filat cannot be Premier and the accusations made by the former member of the Liberal Democratic Party Veaceslav Ionita. The video ends with a Communist protester who accuses the authorities of stealing and with a woman pensioner saying that the rulers did nothing for the country. The pseudo-documentary style of the video gives it credibility. But the problem of such a tactic is the fact that such messages do not convince the people to vote for the PCRM: they will not vote for the PDM or PLDM, but can easily vote for Dodon, who is also against the alliance.

Accomplice Dodon

This risk was anticipated by the Communists, who dedicated a whole video to Dodon, where the leader of the Socialists is accused of being the accomplice of the rulers. The pseudo-documentary style is kept. Dodon is shown announcing that he will vote for the candidate for presidency, together with scenes where Timofti is commended by unionist Ghimpu, and saying that he speaks ‘Romanian’. The association of Dodon, who is in competition with the PCRM on the segment of radical Moldovenism, with Romanism in any form can scare the people, persuading them to vote only for the PCRM, which is the only real defender of the Moldovan statehood and identity. The cherry from the cake is a fragment from an interview of Dodon, where he says that Moldova’s integration into the Customs Union is something unreal. Given that the Socialists built their whole campaign on the pro-Customs Union idea, the PCRM’s attack comes as a serious blow in this respect.


The video clips analyzed until now were aimed rather at discrediting the other election runners and at mobilizing the voters so as to bring the crisis and wrongdoings presented in the videos to an end, but the PCRM didn’t forget that it must make some electoral promises troo. The eighth, ninth and tenth videos contain a large number of classical electoral promises: larger investments, higher salaries and pensions, education and medical services of a higher quality. A part of their promises coincide with Socialists’ promises: allowances for mothers with newborns and 0% tax on reinvested profit.

The seventh video centers on the problems highlighted in the first videos: corruption and oligarchy. They promise to clear the public service of corrupt functionaries and to make the judiciary more responsible before the people. The PCRM thus joins a very popular club in this campaign, of the anti-oligarchic parties/mafia, which does not include only the PDM and PLDM. The PCRM does not forget about the foreign policy and promises to review the Association Agreement and to hold a referendum on joining the Customs Union in the eleventh video. From this viewpoint, the Communists’ position was interpreted by many as readiness to make comprises: they do not want to annul the accord, but only to revise it. In principle, the aforementioned particularities of the supporters of the Communists and the competition from Dodon make the PCRM to be in favor of the Customs Union. In the current situation, the PCRM can be pro-European only partially. Those who vote for the PCRM need to hear some of the messages reiterated and the Communists are obliged to do this so as to prevent others from taking their place.

Salt in the kitchen

The PCRM’s campaign is aimed at offsetting the quasi-absence of Vladimir Voronin by tragic scenes. The Communist leader is more passive and less involved than earlier and does not dominate the TV screens as earlier. This is a void that is felt, like the salt in the kitchen. At least some of the PCRM’s videos need the presence of Voronin or of somebody from the party – a face that the voters could see, a more energetic voice sharing the indignation and emotions transmitted by the video images. A niche appears thus, which is exploited by Dodon: similar positions, messages, promises and foreign course. But the Socialist leader has two advantages: the open support of Moscow and his young age, which are both important.

Note: This analysis refers strictly to the publicity of the election runners and does not aim to assess their quality. The bad products can have good publicity and vice versa, as the good products can have good publicity. Earlier, IPN made an analysis of the electoral publicity of the Democratic Party, which was published on November 6, of the Christian Democratic People’s Party, which was published on November 7, of the Liberal Democratic Party, which was published on November 10, of the Liberal Reformist Party, which was published on November 11, of the People’s Force Party, which was published on November 12, and of the People’s Movement Antimafie”, which was published on November 13. and of the National Liberal Party, which was published on November 17, and of the Party of Socialists, which was published on November 18, and of the People’s Party, which was published on November 19.

Eugen Muravschi, IPN

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