Maia Sandu’s one year of presidency. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“However, during the first year in office, President Maia Sandu managed to create favorable conditions for the eventual fulfillment, during the next years, of many of the made promises. In this connection, it should be noted that Maia Sandu’s success is due to a number of mistakes made by the leader of PSRM rather than to the own political and administrative virtues…”
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Waiting for good times...

On November 15, it has been a year since Maia Sandu was elected President of the Republic of Moldova. Proclaiming the time of good people!, the leader of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) managed to take revenge on her main challenger Igor Dodon, the leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), who beat her in the presidential elections of 2016.

After the expiration of ¼ of Maia Sandu’s term in office, it is opportune to wonder what she managed to deliver of what she promised? The answer is evident – not many things, if not a few concrete things only. However, during her first year in office, President Maia Sandu succeeded in creating favorable conditions for the eventual fulfillment, during the next few years, of many of the made promises. In this connection, it should be noted that Maia Sandu’s success is due to a number of mistakes made by the leader of PSRM rather than to the own political and administrative virtues. Surely, after the resignation of the Chicu Government that could not support the coalition between PSRM and Șor Party (PȘ), the snap parliamentary elections in the country were inevitable, also because the PSRM’s candidate for Prime Minister Mariana Durleșteanu didn’t show willingness to become the representative of the PSRM&PȘ alliance. 

So, the quasi-unanimous perception of the voters was that the snap parliamentary elections caused by the PSRM’s political promiscuity actually turned into the third round of presidential elections in which Maia Sandu gave a finishing stroke to her opponent Igor Dodon. Consequently, the new monochromic government of PAS started work in August 2021 under the slogan Moldova of good times!  

If we refer also to other aspects of the first year of the presidential term, we should ascertain that, except for the openness shown by the European Union (EU) and its member states and also by the development partners, which resulted in consistent financial and anti-COVID-19 support, we cannot attribute many merits to Maia Sandu. On the contrary, there are a series of characteristics of the PAS government that generate concern rather than reasons for optimism:

  • absence of charismatic political personalities, except for Maia Sandu herself and, in general, absence of qualified staff for managing public affairs;
  • lack of experience and political flexibility, of efficient communication skills needed for making eventual allies, not only political enemies;
  • intransigent dogmatism in the promotion of programmatic anticorruption postulates, especially of the so-called general cleanup to remove not only discredited persons from public posts, but also those without any proven blame, ignoring the qualifications of those dismissed, even if the PAS government does not have suitable candidates for replacing them, etc.

The given flaws of the PAS government have been amplified by the pandemic crisis and, unexpectedly, by the energy crisis. These and other crises that are only being anticipated necessitate unplanned financial and administrative resources for being solved. This way, the government deviates from the efforts to carry out the multiple tasks that were proclaimed, which means that the voters of PAS should yet wait for the good times announced by the party and by President Maia Sandu. It turns out that the good times depend not only on the intentions of politicians, but also on other factors, such as the weather, regional and international conjuncture, the geopolitical and geoeconomic interests of the strategic partners, etc.

Looking for lost time...

In such circumstances, the main opposition force - PSRM – tries to see the chance of taking revenge for the defeat suffered in the presidential and parliamentary elections. For the purpose, in the wake of the price rises caused by the energy crisis, the party’s leader Igor Dodon seeks the resignation of President Maia Sandu and the dissolution of Parliament so as to urgently and concomitantly call snap presidential and parliamentary elections. Such an approach generates bewilderment as, in the current conditions, snap presidential and parliamentary elections can take place only as a result of an uprising or a coup. Such a scenario is practically impossible as the leaders of the current opposition – Vladimir Voronin and Igor Dodon – are incapable of organizing such events. Moreover, holding the highest posts in the state, they showed their weakness when they conceded power in 2009, after the so-called young peoples’ revolt for fear of not being persecuted later.

Neither Igor Dodon nor his ally of the Bloc of Communists and Sociologist (BCS) – 80-year-old Vladimir Voronin – ever showed to be personalities with character who can risk their own welfare, becoming protest leaders or putschists. So, the PAS government can continue to make mistakes without fear as they are lucky to have such Communist-Socialist opposition leaders. Furthermore, recently Igor Dodon turned from politician into NGO leader. The irony of fate is that the PSRM propagandists hate and stigmatize the NGO leaders as the main driving force of eventual orange revolutions of which the BCS heavyweights are very much afraid. In this regard, the situation in which the still leader of PSRM found himself is absolutely unpleasant. His call to cause snap presidential and parliamentary elections cannot be successful for now.

Renouncing the seat of MP and taking on the post of NGO leader, which is detested by the own mates, Igor Dodon aims to stimulate the Moldovan-Russian economic relations. But Igor Dodon aimed to achieve this objective earlier too, when he held the post of Head of State. During the first year in office, on September 7, 2017, Igor Dodon met with the co-chairman of the Association “Business Russia” Igor Chaika for planning the promotion of cooperation between the business communities of the Republic of Moldova and the Russian Federation. After such meetings, Igor Dodon usually promised annual Russian investments of $1 billion, but no one can remember what investments were made during his tenure as President. It’s true that his family business flourished in that period.

Conventional wisdom says that what Ion didn’t learn, Ionică will also not be able to learn. Also, what President Dodon didn’t manage to do, NGO leader Igor Nikolayevich will also not manage to do. It’s a pity that time is wasted is such a way. That’s why, instead of dreaming of snap elections for taking revenge on PAS and returning to power, Igor Dodon should better write his political autobiography under the generic title ... in search of lost time.

Conclusions

Maia Sandu’s first year in office didn’t persuade the country’s citizens that the time of good people came. Maia Sandu’s success also became the success of PAS, which managed to take over owing to the mistakes made by PSRM and its leader. By all appearances, the announced coming of good times together with the establishment of a monochromatic government, is put off until other times.

The PSRM’s pretension to take revenge on PAS by causing snap parliamentary and presidential elections is for now unfounded owing to the quality of the current leaders of the Communist-Socialist opposition, who discredited themselves irremediably during their political career. In this regard, the last opinion polls conducted after the energy crisis and after the worsening of the pandemic crisis show that PSRM’s chances to take revenge are illusory.

During the last 20 years, the Moldova political leaders haven’t invented something better than to perpetuate the oscillation of the Republic of Moldova between centers of attraction – the European Union and Russia. In such circumstances, it is not surprising that the number of Moldovan citizens who would like the Republic of Moldova to unite with Romania has increased constantly, reaching over 40%. It seems that unionism has the chance to become a successful political trend, but it is not the case for now as the dozen of self-styled unionist leaders are unable to combine forces for the union. Their favorite preoccupation is to label each other as diversionists etc., and to display their bellicose wishes.  

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