Government coalition: deficient communication, smokescreens and opaqueness. IPN analysis

The post-electoral situation revealed different models of communication adopted by the political parties that entered Parliament between them and with society. A part of these are new, others are traditional or unexpected. Some of them are based on unprecedented transparency, while others on smokescreens and quasi-total opaqueness.

PSRM has the ball, bread and knife, but unexpectedly scarce communication

At the current stage of the post-electoral reality in the Republic of Moldova, the Party of Socialists (PSRM) holds most of the instruments for orienting the situation to one direction or another one, respectively towards the formation of a majority coalition or towards snap elections. And not only because namely the PSRM holds the most of seats in the new Parliament and thus has the main right to initiatives on the configuration of the future government. The existence of a real possibility for forming majority, legal and legitimate, formalized or unofficial coalitions counts more. These can appear only with the participation of the Socialists: PSRM-PDM or PSRM-ACUM. The PDM-ACUM formula was, is and will remain excluded from all the theoretically possible configurations.

Until now, the PSRM hasn’t practically realized its initial potential and it is hard to anticipate if this situation that is unnatural for the party with the higher rating in the country is dictated by political wisdom, political prudence, political fear or by all these elements of political behavior. This way, during over a month, the PSRM has been shy rather than courageous, passive rather than active in communication on the future government coalition. For example, throughout this period the PSRM delegated only one person to the many and different televised debates – the party’s jurist who often used the privilege of the right of saying that “I’m only a jurist and know things only from this angle”. Unlike the periods and even years when heavyweights of the PSRM were massively present and vocal wherever they were invited. Respectively, by televised debates and by news conferences the PSRM said almost nothing. For instance, the invitation to the bloc ACUM to have discussions at the party’s head office cannot be considered real political message. This seems to have been an awkward gesture or a specially panned move for being rejected and history will show why the party did so.  

The only distinct thing said by the PSRM until now is that “the desideratum of identifying a solution for forming the government in the Republic of Moldova... cannot be achieved at any political cost for the party and contrary to the main objectives of the PSRM.” The statement also had a clearly stated and even courageous end result that hasn’t been assumed by all the political players in the new Parliament until now: “If no progress is made on these subjects in the nearest future, the PSRM sees no other possibility than the organization and holding of snap parliamentary elections”. Until now the three political parties only accused each other of aiming to cause snap elections, which would catastrophically influence the situation in the country and of the people... That’s why the PSRM preferred to skip over several communication stages and to attract the biggest fire possible at the moment onto itself than to say more and clearer things about its own view on the post-electoral scenarios.

This could yet be an element of communication, a very direct message addressed to the Democratic Party (PDM), a kind of political “blackmail” aimed at obtaining more benefits, including in the form of the posts it wants, if it’s true that the PDM and PSRM already negotiate, behind the scenes, particular divisions of important posts, including the post of prosecutor general. The signal is valid to the same extent if the two parties only get ready to negotiate.

The PSRM could say more and more specific things this week, after the meeting of its Political Executive Committee or possibly earlier, when President Igor Dodon and the Socialist leader Zinaida Grecheanyi return from Moscow, if the press reports about the goals of this visit are accurate. Until it has more communication with other parliamentary parties, with the own voters and with society in general, the PSRM formally remains with the ball in its court, but also with the bread and knife as regards the fate of the future government. But it does not have much time to show if it’s able to manage these instruments or society can withdraw these from them, possibly once and for all.

PDM remains a supporter of populist communication, conspiracies and political smokescreens

Even if it does not have the largest number of seats, the PDM behaves as if it plays alone on the post-electoral field and the ball, bread and knife of the others do not interest it at all. It’s similar to the tale when the mother-in-law warns the fresh daughter-in-law that she can attentively approach her if the knot of her headscarf is at the neck , but should no way approach her if the knot is at the forehead. The daughter-in-law replied: “You, mother, if you come home and see me nicely dressed and with makeup, with one leg onto the other one and with the cigarette in the mouth, you should know that I don’t really care where the knot of your headscarf is...”. It seems that the PDM believes it has two entities that want to become related to it (mothers-in-law).

The PDM continues to behave as it behaved in the elections, when it intentionally mixed up the notion of “ruling party” with that of “one of the aspirants to this position”. In this regard, the PDM continues to impose projects, mainly social ones, to increase the salaries, pensions and allowances even if later turns out that the state budget was seriously affected, especially in the absence of financial injections from outside the country. In essence, this is populist behavior that is popular with the citizens, this also being the only method of real communication with society and, indirectly, with the other two political players.

In all the other aspects, the PDM remains the supporter of political conspiracies and smokescreens that brought it many dividends in the previous negotiations on the formation of ruling alliances. Public statements concerning future post-electoral scenarios are rather made with the aim of hiding what the party thinks and plans in the created situation. Undeniably, the PDM should consider the political class and the whole Moldovan society being full of naïve people when it says that it is not interested in posts and didn’t discuss the issue at least inside the party after, before the elections, it took care to name its people in the administration or even in the composition of practically all the inspection and regulatory bodies of the country. Or we should take it seriously the renewed invitation to discussions made to the bloc ACUM, after treating this as a sworn enemy and ‘country traitor’.

The PDM continues to be absent from the televised debates on the future government. It is fully absent even if earlier it preferred to delegate its representatives mainly to the own TV channels, but designed a small group of people authorized to speak in the name of the party. After the elections, the PDM wasn’t practically present at public debates, at least on the own TV channels, even of these usually stage “debates” with one viewpoint, that of the Democrats. The party’s position can be deducted only from the positions of analysts affiliated to these channels and of a whole army of “trolls” affiliated to the PDM. For example, from these indirect sources, we can deduce that the PDM would accept or would even want an alliance with the PSRM and it never planned to come close to ACUM and becomes hysteric when someone admits the rapprochement between the PSRM and ACUM. (By the way, the “opinions” on this analysis of some of these can confirm the correctness of such an idea). The deduced options are as evident as possible to the public that is even slightly initiated in political information, but it is not clear why the PDM avoids or refuses to discuss directly and sincerely with the press and society. The return to the practice of restricting some of the media outlets’ access to public events staged by the PDM and the refusal to take part in public debates form part of this style. One of the answers could be the fact that in communication, the PDM continues to count on games behind the scenes, political conspiracies and smokescreens. The given tactic could bring benefits, as earlier, but the appearance of a new political force in Parliament that promotes maximally transparent political communication, with the massive involvement of the press and public opinion in general, could diminish the Democratic Party’s comfort and the considerable effects of its traditional political behavior. In the new conditions, society could refuse to listen obediently, as until now, to theories about “principles and values” that the politicians would serve during months of non-transparent negotiations so as to later show that they divided between them everything that flies in this country, including what cannot be divided from legal viewpoints, so that society ultimately reaches the conclusion that such political behavior poses a real social threat.

Representatives of ACUM are more coherent in communication than bloc on the whole

The bloc ACUM broke the stereotypes of post-electoral communication between the parties that entered Parliament. It does not accept discussions and negotiations of the practical model used during all the independence years of the Republic of Moldova, which is non-transparent and non-supervised by the press and society. According to the bloc, discussions and negotiations can take place not at head offices of parties and at conspiracy-like tea drinking ceremonies, but exclusively in the Parliament Building and in the presence of the press, which is on a parliamentary platform. This is a new model that is definitely accepted by the press and society, but definitely does not suit the other parliamentary political forces that are used to draw the line between communication during the election campaign - public, even excessive – and after the elections – non-transparent and conspiratory – which enables them to start to use the benefits offered by the status of parliamentary party.

This is also a kind of populism that ACUM justifies by what it calls “the need to free the state from captivity”. The lack of progress in constituting the new government can also be argued by the inability  or rather unwillingness of the other parties to accept the communication model proposed by ACUM and by the bloc’s insufficient preparedness to promote the own ideas.

The communication model proposed by ACUM is rather popular with the public, including owing to the creation of many public events and the participation by its representatives in public debates organized by radio and TV stations of all orientations. But the effects of this are diminished owing to a number of deficiencies and inconsistencies committed until now in relation to the other two important parliamentary payers. At least until now these were treated in the same way, even if it expects absolutely different reactions from them. The bloc behaves correctly from the perspective of its goals towards the PDM, which it accuses of all the bad things, but incoherently and inconsistently towards the PSRM from which it wants to obtain decisive support for the same goals. The main deficiency in the communication with the PSRM resides in the fact that the bloc hasn’t issued an invitation to a dialogue to the whole group of the  PSRM, voicing such vague formulations as “we invite the MPs of good faith”, “who are not under the control of oligarchs”, etc.  

The impression is that the bloc ACUM only shapes its own communication style and does not yet (or already) created a stable center for planning and coordinating its own actions. The impression is fueled by the fact that a number of representatives of the bloc in debates formulate more coherent and realistic messages that those issued in the name of the bloc, including as regards the communication with the PSRM. Some of the persons affiliated to the bloc launch messages that can cent for good the communication between ACUM and the PSRM. If the procedure for identifying the real position of the PDM by deciphering the messages of the TV channels affiliated to this mater, why can’t this matter in the case of the messages launched at the TV channels affiliated to the bloc?

ACUM should learn from the own mistakes rather swiftly as time, as in the case of the PSRM, works against it. The PDM has a more friendly relationship with the time as long as it holds the “bread and knife” in state affairs, by itself.

In fact, the demarcation line between the several emphasized models of communication, as from the several post-electoral scenarios discussed until now, goes through the “state capture” idea that is insistently promoted by the bloc ACUM and is as insistently rejected by the political forces that are suspected of this “capture”. Respectively, if he idea is now openly supported also by the PSRM, which earlier formulated similar ideas, we will witness a particular end result of the February 24 elections. If not, we will have another end result that is mainly known. Tertium non datur.

Valeriu Vasilcă, IPN

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