Revolution put off... Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“That’s why, in the aforementioned circumstances, as the leader of the organizational committee and of the future protests, Ion Chicu needs a resounding success to be considered a candidate for the office of President with chances of winning. Or the steam from the boiler of protest hotness risks fading away in the siren of the revolutionary locomotive...

Correction of revolutionary agenda

The start of the struggle against the ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) announced for November 7, 2023, was put off. The leader of the Party of Development and Consolidation of Moldova (PDCM), Ion Chicu, who announced the beginning of the struggle, had to make corrections in the revolutionary agenda. Only one day before the start of the struggle, on November 6, the leader of the PDCM addressed the public opinion with a kind of justificatory excuses: “Given that the political forces are now fully involved in the election process for the runoffs of local elections, the organizational committee of the meeting decided to stage the event after the electoral exercise is over, on a date that will be agreed by the extended committee and that will be announced later”. However, in the same message, Ion Chicu confirmed the declared goal of the struggle, launching a new call to potential members: “Let’s combine our efforts so as to decapture our state and to restore the basic human rights!”

It was expected that the start of the struggle against the PAS would be supported by the leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), Igor Dodon, who on November 5, on the day of the first round of elections to the bodies of the local administration, also addressed the citizens, right from inside the polling station: “I voted, first of all, against the PAS and Maia Sandu, and I call on all the citizens to vote against this dictatorial regime. I have confidence in our people. I think our citizens realized the past two-three years who came to power in the Republic of Moldova... Everyone should go to the polls! We start to free the Republic of Moldova!”.

Immediately after the first round of voting ended, the leader of the PSRM stated that “the regime of the PAS and Maia Sandu suffered a defeat. This power no longer has legitimacy”. So, there are reasons to launch the revolutionary struggle for removing the PAS from power. Respectively, the solution is to cause snap parliamentary and presidential elections.” The government press in Russia immediately took and circulated the sentence given by the leader of the PSRM.

Results of elections – cause of postponement of revolutionary battle

Despite the revolutionary élan of Igor Dodon, the leader of the PDCM, Ion Chicu, decided yet to temper this somehow, urging to take a break until after the runoff vote. For now, it is not clear what will happen in the runoff vote, what impact this can have on the struggle against the PAS. First of all, the most accurate estimates show that after the runoffs, the PAS can double, against the previous local elections, the number of seats obtained then as part of the ACUM Bloc (172 elected mayors). In general, the number of elected mayors representing the PAS could rise to approximately 300 (about 240 mayors elected in the first round of voting and over 150 candidates who reached the runoffs). Respectively, the final result of the PAS could reach 1/3 of the total number of mayors, equal to the proportion of representation in district councils ~33%. On the other hand, the PSRM that denounces the electoral collapse of the PAS saw a dramatic decline in the number of mayors – from 206 mayors elected in 2019 to approximately 100 mayors elected in the first round of the recent elections - and managed to promote about 80 candidates in the runoffs, which is approximately two times less than in the case of the PAS. As regards the results achieved by the PDCM, these are rather good for the first participation in an electoral competition – approximately 30 mayors elected in the first round of voting and about 50 promoted in the runoffs.

Anyway, the results obtained by the PSRM and the PDCM, against those obtained by the PAS, are too modest to ascertain the loss of legitimacy of the latter and, respectively, to claim that they can cause snap parliamentary and presidential elections. By all appearances, this is the real reason why the leader of the PDCM, Ion Chicu, announced the postponement of the struggle for removing the PAS from power so as to decapture the state.

Motives for classifying composition of organizational committee

Even if he announced the postponement of the start of the struggle against the PAS, the leader of the PDCM, Ion Chicu, managed to transmit a very subtle message – that he assumes all the risks of this struggle. From his messages, we can deduce that an organizational committee was already constituted, but its composition will not be made public and will be kept secret. Starting from the public calls and statements of Igor Dodon and Vlad Filat, the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), we can presume that the two accepted to form part of the organizational committee, but we cannot be sure of this. The question is, why Dodon and Filat are embarrassed, for example, to openly state that they form part of an organizational committee constituted under the auspices of Ion Chicu’s PDCM for removing the PAS from power?

At first sight, there are at least two factors that make them keep the composition of the organizational committee secret. The first is the fact that Igor Dodon was and probably is still the confidante of Vladimir Putin, the latter supporting the first openly in the parliamentary elections of 2014. An additional proof of the intimate relationship of the Russian elites with Igor Dodon is that the latter admitted that the PSRM was financed from Russia with approximately $800,000 a month. On the other side, Vlad Filat and the PLDM recently turned into promoters of the reintegration of the Republic of Moldova into Romania. So, the general public will not welcome an alliance between a unionist, declared pro-Romanian party and a proven pro-Russian party. The second factor that would impede the exhibition of the coalition within the organizational committee is that Igor Dodon and the PSRM’s parliamentary group on October 15, 2015 voted to lift the parliamentary immunity of the leader of the PLDM, insisting that the voting should be open, not secret so as to see who supported the corrupt representatives of the political class. This message was reported to Russia’s state agency RIA-Novosti. This is the method to which Igor Dodon resorted in October 2015 for decapturing the state, stripping Vlad Filat of parliamentary immunity, but actually depriving this of freedom for about four years! In such circumstances, it is easy to understand why the eventual presence of the two in the organizational committee for decapturing the state should be classified.

Organizational Committee vs. authentic opposition

There is one more interesting aspect that cannot be overlooked. The secret about the composition of the organizational committee is needed for camouflaging the eventual presence in this of the multiple derivatives of the Shor Party. The conspiracy is a very important element to which Ilan Shor’s lieutenant on the political arena in the Republic of Moldova – Marina Tauber - resorts. It is hard to imagine that Marina Tauber hasn’t heard anything about the existence of the organizational committee and hasn’t tried to come in contact with this. In fact, Marina Tauber  avoids to directly address the organizational committee that is ready to fight against the government, preferring to use the support of a so-called authentic opposition: “I request all the opposition parties that are not controlled by Maia Sandu and that not act in complicity with her to condemn the wrongdoings committed by the government with regard to the elections in Balti – exclusion of Victoria Shapa from the electoral competition, then of Arina Korshikova and earlier the refusal to register me as a candidate for mayor of the municipality of Balti and, also, if the courts of law do not restore Arina Korshikova’s right to stand for election, to boycott these elections”.

Among the representatives of the authentic opposition, Marina Tauber highlighted only Igor Nicolaievich (Dodon) and Renato Gheorghievich (Usatyi), calling on them to withdraw their candidates from the runoff vote in the municipality of Balti by invoking the abuse committed by the PAS government that removed from the electoral competition the derivatives of the outlawed Shor Party. Consequently, neither Renato Usatyi nor Igor Dodon passed the test of affiliation to the authentic opposition. In the case of Partidului Nostru (PN) (Our Party), which is led by Usatyi, it is clear why. The latter was the main political player who revealed the illegal activities of the substitutes of the Shor Party in the electoral competition in Balti. For his part, Igor Dodon refused to withdraw the PSRM’s candidate from the runoffs in Balti as he is hopeful about a more or less honorable result in the northern capital following the resounding collapse in the elections in Chisinau.

Irrecoverable loss in organizational committee

A piece of news that is worrisome for the classified members of the organizational committee seems to have come from the reelected mayor of Chisinau Ion Ceban. The latter said that he will be the mayor of all the residents of Chisinau, which is also of those who voted for the PAS that in the municipal council obtained representation that is practically similar to that of the National Alternative Movement (MAN) Party that is led by Ion Ceban. Even more worrisome for the organizational committee should be the statement made by Ion Ceban in the name of the MAN: “We welcome the recommendation made today [November 8, 2023] by the European Commission concerning the initiation of the European Union’s accession negotiations with the Republic of Moldova. We plead in favor of the swiftest implementation of all the recommendations by the authorities in Chisinau so that we take quick steps in the process of integrating the Republic of Moldova into the European Union. We are ready to make all the necessary efforts that are within our competence”. From this statement, it is clear that mayor Ion Ceban and the MAN intend to lend a hand to the promotion of the European integration at the level of the local public administration, alongside the central authorities that are urged to fulfill the conditions as soon as possible. So, the MAN doesn’t challenge the legitimacy of the PAS for joining the organizational committee for causing snap parliamentary and presidential elections.

From the aforementioned, we can deduce that for now, from among the parties with a particular weight, only the PDCM, the PSRM and the PLDM can form part of the classified organizational committee. This is a presence that seems to be insufficient for triggering the revolutionary struggle for decapturing the state. Let’s hope that after the November 19 runoffs, we will find out the full composition of the organizational committee and will be able to justly estimate the potential of these to achieve the announced goals.

Risk of dissipation of boiler steam in siren of revolutionary verve

For now, only one thing is evident – that the chairman of the PDCM, Ion Chicu, appears as the protest leader. The assumption of the risk of appearing as the central figure of the struggle against the PAS, protecting the other secret members of the organizational committee from exposing themselves, can mean only one thing – Ion Chicu deliberately assumes also all the eventual benefits of the protest activity. Whether the organizational committee manages to cause snap parliamentary and presidential elections or not matters less. What really matters is that exactly in only a year, we will have ordinary presidential elections and this means that the protest opposition and the organizational committee of this have an established leader who assumed all the risks and therefore deserves to be supported in a consolidated way as a candidate for the office of President. This seems to be the well-calculated goal pursued by the leader of the PDCM.

Perhaps, Ion Chicu can really manage to attract the support of the organizational committee. The point is the leader of the PSRM, Igor Dodon, seems to be an absolutely exhausted politician who lost the presidential competitions in 2020 and the parliamentary competition in 2021 to the PAS. Moreover, the PSRM’s dramatic collapse at the recent local elections comes only to confirm the decline of the PSRM and its leader. The eventual presidential pretentions of the declared unionist Vlad Filat cannot be supported by the organizational committee no matter what the secret or non-secret composition of his is. The representatives of the Short Party’s derivatives can have particular chances to become candidates for President with a particular weight only if the authorities do not manage to block the inflows of money from obscure sources. So, Ion Chicu’s presumed pretention to become the candidate for President on behalf of the organizational committee is actually the only possible one, especially because the recent results of the local elections are encouraging for the PDCM.

As regards the political qualities of Ion Chicu, there are yet particular doubts here. The point is Ion Chicu was unable to intuit the consequences of his resignation from the post of Prime Minister. From this viewpoint, his involvement in the political struggle for decapturing the state can be now interpreted only as an attempt to correct a fatal mistake he made. The truth is if he hadn’t tendered his unprovoked resignation on December 23, 2021, the ordinary parliamentary elections would have taken place this year, in May. Respectively, Ion Chicu and his team would have had the privilege to cope with the multiple crises caused by Russia’s war against Ukraine – energy, financial, security and others – so as to exhibit their administrative capacities and to not allow the capturing of the state. Moreover, his team would have gained unique experience and the Moldovan citizens would have had a wealthy life, secured also by the social projects of the Shor Party.

That wasn’t yet meant to be and those who made a fatal mistake once, when they resigned in an uninspired way, are expected to make mistakes again. That’s why, in the aforementioned circumstances, as the leader of the organizational committee and of the future protests, Ion Chicu needs a resounding success to be considered a candidate for the office of President with chances of winning. Or the steam from the boiler of protest hotness risks fading away in the siren of the revolutionary locomotive.

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