Several signs of early elections appear at negotiations on new alliance formation

IPN analysis: “And this means that, most probably, the three parties not only get ready for early elections, but also entered unannounced election campaigns. There are sufficient signs for this today already ...”

Those who follow the negotiations on the constitution of a new parliamentary majority, involving the components of the former Alliance for European Integration, with concerns and hope saw a number of new signs last week. As I said in the analysis “Several war signs at peace talks on formation AEI 3”, which was published on March 18, the concerns of a large part of the population are connected with the possible early legislative elections, especially the risk of the country’s European course being changed, while the hopes – with the improvement of the living standards, especially by maintaining the European integration course.

Signs of failure

After the last round of negotiations that was held last weekend, the negotiators of the three parties gave encouraging signals as regards the dialogue held and the completion of this process. All of them were optimistic and described the negotiations as constructive: “Today we had a very sincere discussion... The conclusion is that after the signing of a new agreement we must come dressed in new clothes and be credible before the people. The text of the agreement is almost ready…”; “The new agreement, when it is made public...”; “It was a sincere discussion, in parts unpleasant, but useful. There are no problems that cannot be solved. We are to identify mechanisms to ensure the functionality of the alliance.”

In fact, these were the first distinct statements after the general and sometimes evasive formulations   from until now.  The impression that results are achieved takes a clear shape if we remember the previous statements according to which the three parties aim to finish the negotiations by the end of this month. But this time limit is very close. The negotiators also explained the cause of such an impression: “We discussed the functionality of the alliance, not posts...”.

Unannounced election campaigns

It is known that until now, the most serious disagreements between the components of the former AEI have been related to posts in general and to the post of Prime Minister in particular. After the first consultations initiated by President Nicolae Timofti with the parliamentary groups last week, the PLDM reasserted that they will put forward acting Premier Vlad Filat as a candidate for premiership. The PL confirmed its position that they will not accept Filat. The PDM didn’t present a univocal position yet, but the categorical anti-Filat statements of the party’ leader Marian Lupu, which are actually not typical of his style of communication, are fresh in our minds.

In the created situation, when there is practically no time left, the chances that the PL will radically change its message without affecting its image before its voters are very slim. It is a trap set by the party itself, owing to the categorical position of its leader. But this is how things stand at this moment. The PDM may delay taking a decision in order to announce a different position that would enable it to accept Filat without causing damage to its image.

Likewise, the PDM may hope to gain the same role as that played by the PL in the case of the censure motion passed against the Government, so as not to be forced to openly reject Filat and to avoid bearing a part of the blame for causing early parliamentary elections. The PDM may also hope that without the votes of the PL, Vlad Filat will be unable to apply for the post of Premier. This way, the responsibility for causing early elections would be replaced by “the inability of the PLDM and PDM to reach compromises” and the two parties would be accused of “putting the personal and party interests above the national one, including the European integration...”. It’s not known if this is how the behavior of the PL and PDM is explained and if this behavior was agreed or adopted by each of them separately. If so, the negotiations held by representatives of the three parties to form a new alliance and maintain the European course “for the people”, and their positive and optimistic statements can be a shield that hides other intentions and plans of the components of the former AEI. This would mean that the three parties not only prepare for early elections, but also entered unannounced election campaigns. There are sufficient signs for this today already.

Signs of peace and preparation for ‘war’  

Last week, acting Premier Vlad Filat, the leader of the PLDM, had all the days full of events, many of which fit the conception of an election campaign, including visits to companies to meet the staff, trips to different places covering a wide part of the population, meetings with the executive of the own party, visits to orphans in need, and the ‘warm’ discussion with the woman who intends to weave a carpet  by the President’s birthday. It seems that Vlad Filat and the PLDM know things that the press and society cannot know. The criminal cases started against the Premier’s party colleagues holding important positions may show the direction from which the danger to Vlad Filat and his party comes. The PLDM will lose a lot if it remains now without its well-known leader. In such conditions, Filat and the PLDM want to secure the post of Prime Minister either by negotiations or by early elections.

The aggressive statements of the Liberal leader Mihai Ghimpu, compared with the peaceful ones made within the negotiations, may also form part of an election campaign, even if unannounced. Otherwise, the given statements are illogical and not beneficial for the negotiation process and for the future government “for the people” and “for European integration”, together with a party and its leader who is blamed beforehand. The serious accusations made by Mihai Ghimpu against Vlad Filat, without providing evidence and not taking into account the presumption of innocence, are tolerated only in an election campaign. But such a style is accepted only by the faithful voters of the PL, who vote mainly emotively. In this respect, the PL may be a niche party that can enter any election campaign without many proofs, preparations and expenses and can win 10% (plus-minus) of the poll. But such a stance does not always produce the expected result. A relevant example is the party that was earlier headed by “the man with beard” whose supporters didn’t remain faithful to him and almost all of them threw support to the PL.

The PDM also had an electoral-like behavior at a certain moment, while Marian Lupu’s unspecific behavior is one of the manifestations. This party started to be more prudent, including because it has more to lose, as well as to win” than the PL in the case of early elections. It is evident that it wants to win and even announced its goal to become the most important center-left party. But such an objective cannot be achieved so easily. On any wrong move, it can be ‘bitten’ by the PCRM from the left and by the PLDM from the right, as well as other parties that will want to take part in elections. If sociologists’ assertions that the voters will penalize harshly all the parties of the AEI, especially for the disputes between them, are true, the danger threatening the PDM is greater than in the case of the other two parties of the former ruling alliance. This danger is very real and close even before the possible elections. The PCRM, as well as the PLDM are waiting for the right moment and will decide whether to dismiss Marian Lupu from the post of Speaker and when to do this. This way, they will deprive the party of very important administrative leverage and influence, and of the right to propose the candidate for the post of prosecutor general for which harsh political struggles are talking place. Meanwhile, the PLDM and Vlad Filat will remain with more resources which they show they can use even if the Premier is now only ‘acting’.

Fratricide war

Thus, there are enough signs that the parties of the former AEI are tempted to or have already made the choice in favor of early elections. The sooner, the better – they think. Such a position can be justified to a certain extent if they are sure that they will return to power and will be able to maintain the European course. It seems that President Nicolae Timfti also understands that if the early elections cannot be avoided, they should take place as soon as possible so that Moldova has at least a slim chance of catching the train ‘to Vilnius’. But this stake is rather unreal. If they yield to the temptation of early elections, the three parties of the former ruling alliance will become involved in a ‘fratricide war’ or a ‘civil war’ that they will be unable to avoid. By their behavior, they haven’t left room for positive electoral messages, including concerning the European integration. The anti-Communist message that the three parties launched when the AEI was formed will also be less credible. They will remain only with the message against the former partners. In such circumstances, the PCRM and other, old and new parties may not even start election campaigns as this thing will be done by the former coalition partners for them. Asked to comment on one of the ordinary statements of the Liberal leader against him upon his return from Brussels, Vlad Filat answered: “Time of harsh statements will yet come...”.

Valeriu Vasilică, IPN

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