Signs that this election can be either crucial or catastrophic - II

IPN Analysis: The November 30 parliamentary election will be either crucial or catastrophic for the Moldovan state and society, and this is the first and most important feature distinguishing it from other elections. It includes a host of other particularities, such as the geopolitical overtone, the influence of the regional factor, the foreign interference, the emergence of new types of political actors, an electoral confrontation by the principle “all against one”, the unpredictability of the outcome and of the potential configuration of the government, the intensive use of political manipulation, the contrast between an overall peaceful campaign and fears of potential violent outbreaks, or worse, of a regional hotspot like the one seen in Ukraine.

The first part of this analysis discussed the similarities and differences between 1991, the year when Moldova proclaimed its independence, and the year 2014, when many believe the Moldovan society is to make a choice as crucial as the one made twenty-three years ago. It also discussed the influences exerted on the upcoming election by the Ukrainian factor and the Romanian one. Our neighbors have seen developments that indicate a higher degree of European integration. It's true that Ukraine has had to pay dearly for this, with loss of lives and territories. But the eventuality of the Ukrainian scenario being replicated here in Moldova would have a rather opposite effect – that of destruction. This time we will analyze the aspect of foreign interference in the campaign and the emergence of a new type of politicians in the Moldovan political landscape.

Moldova between two poles:

Most electoral competitors during this campaign are assisted by partners from outside the country, at least this is certainly true for the more influential parties. Both the assistants and the assisted can be grouped in two categories: there is the West, represented by the EU and the U.S. and the organizations affiliated with them; and the East, represented solely by Russia with its Gazprom and Teleprom (a portmanteau word that basically means propaganda), its sanitary agency Rospotrebnadzor and its migration service. As a matter of fact, this tandem was present in virtually all the past elections in Moldova, however this time the influence exerted both directly and indirectly is unprecedentedly high. This is yet another sign that the current campaign is a “life-and-death battle” for the “votes and souls” of the Moldovans. The competition is so fierce and overarching that it leaves the impression some would be ready to scrap the scare quotes in the “life-and-death battle”. This impression might be exaggerated, but Ukraine's case makes us allow for such a possibility. The two powerful actors have displayed different behaviors in relation to Moldova, both before and especially during the campaign. They are so strikingly contrasting that they can only be described by dichotomies like “white and black” or “good and evil”.

The West…

The West, in particular the EU and the U.S., have behaved like an investor who hopes to one day gain some return. The investment has taken the form of funds, legal rules, advanced technology, expertise and audit. All these come with requirements, rather strict ones, demanding the Moldovan government to strengthen the rule of law, consolidate justice and fight corruption. The reciprocal and quite frequent visits of Moldovan and Western officials at the highest levels, systematic communication between them, the signing of bilateral and multilateral agreements of strategic and current significance also represent real signs of support for Moldova and its citizens. All these have been invariably offered in a transparent and open manner. In money alone, in the form of grants and cheap loans, the West has offered several billion euros or dollars. There is certainly a more exact figure, but it is irrelevant when compared to the what Russia has offered to Moldova in aid in more than two decades – virtually nothing.

…and Russia

In more than two decades, there was just one lending – not assistance – project in the amount of $500 million offered by Russia during the Communist government. But even that one was suspended, probably for political reasons, because Russia would perhaps feel insulted if we even thought that we didn't get the money because Russia couldn't afford it. While Russia does have some financial capacity, and less technological, it has always preferred to channel the money not towards Moldova proper, but towards the separatist administration in Tiraspol, as it has in fact in the case of South Ossetia and Abkhazia rather than to Georgia, or to Crimea and the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk rather than to Ukraine. And this “support” has always been accompanied by provision of arms and troops, either openly or covertly, which have been used as screws to tighten on those several former Soviet states whenever they dared to follow the European path.

The difference is not so much in the different potentials of the two powerful foreign players but rather in the different systems of values and approaches they use in foreign relations, in particular in relation to the “near abroad” neighbors. Unlike the West, Russia believes only in coercive measures as a way of “approaching” others, for the simple reason that at this stage of development it is unable to adopt western methods of co-existence, and it's not known when and whether at all Russia will adopt them. The tendencies that it has shown in relation to Moldova in the context of the upcoming election leave little room for optimism. This is because the embargoes and other kinds of unreasoned economic pressures have intensified, because the Moldovan gastarbeiters are forced to vote for a certain type of parties, because these parties have enjoyed “celebrity endorsement” in a manner never seen before in the history of the Moldova-Russia relationship, which can certainly be interpreted as a direct interference in Moldova's affairs. It has been reported that those parties also receive substantial funding in breech of the law.

Communication at official level is virtually nonexistent, because the frequent trips to Moscow by Agriculture Minister Vasile Bumacov have had little feedback, and it's obvious, because the economic issues have a political explanation. The frequent visits paid by Dmitri Rogozin, Russia's hawkish deputy prime minister, to Tiraspol rather than to Chisinau and his undiplomatic statements confirm the political nature of the communication crisis. About one year ago, Foreign Minister Natalia Gherman announced she was flying to Moscow to prepare the visit of Prime Minister Iurie Leanca and his meeting with the Russian Premier Dmitri Medvedev, but the attempt failed. One doesn't have to be an expert in foreign affairs and diplomacy to understand that it's not Chisinau that has refused communication at high level and what was the price Moldova had to pay for that communication to exist.

As in the case of the disproportion between the different opportunities offered by the European model of development and the Eurasian one, in the case of the attitudes shown by Europe and Russia in relation to Moldova, too, the Moldovan public opinion is split in half. Again, this article won't try to explain the absurdity of this situation, we'll just pinpoint here still another example that shows how “crucial” or “catastrophic” the November 30 election can be.

New faces, old models

Despite the high bets of the upcoming election, the campaign has been peaceful overall, almost usual, with small yet relevant distinctive features. A novelty in this respect is the unexpected ascend of Renato Usatyi, a Moldovan with business interests in Russia. According to polls and general perception, he was able to find enough support among the Moldovans in quite a short period of time. It's a fait accompli, regardless of how we may feel about it.

Firstly, Renato Usatyi has come to prominence for his apparently accessible and simple way of making politics by breaking the rules usually followed by “professional” politicians. He has been able to convince many people that he represents them, and this includes people disenchanted with the current political elite and angry at the multitude of problems they must face in their daily life. And in this respect, his degree of popularity is an exact indicator of the mistakes done by the older representatives of the Moldovan political class, in particular the current government, but also the past ones.

Secondly, Renato Usatyi seems to represent a new current, and a dangerous one too, in the Moldovan politics. Perhaps few made the connection between his campaign battle cry “The power is in the truth” and the dangerous philosophy of the Russian crime film “The Brother” and its sequel (the slogan is in fact a quote from the sequel). The movies, set in the troubled late 1990s, tell the story of a vigilante who kills people cold-bloodedly in the name of “truth”. I bet the makers of the films intended to show the threat emerging from that kind of mentality, the danger of a contagious social and political phenomenon. I personally think that this mentality is what fuels the approval from a great part of Russian society, but also from Moldova and other ex-Soviet states, of what Russian authorities and mercenaries do in east of Ukraine, when invading the home of your brother and killing his family members is justified by some “ideas” and “truths” such as “the Russian world”, or the “American threat” and the kind. At this stage of the world development, the Moldovans don't need any longer idols and role models like Kotovski or Robin Hood or the Brother; this would through us decades or even centuries back in our development. What we need is a solid justice and authorities that can defend “the truth”. And this is exactly what the Europeans are trying to help us achieve.

The language and behavior of the new politician Usatyi echoes that of a vigilante or even a criminal. As a role model, he represents a threat, and in this respect it doesn't even matter if the allegations are true that Usatyi has ties to the underworld. However, this is not Usaty's problem, but rather of the Moldovan society, who after years of transition has started demanding heroes that we believed long gone. It's yet another example of our agitation in choosing between “crucial” and “catastrophic”.

Valeriu Vasilică, IPN

Вы используете модуль ADS Blocker .
IPN поддерживается от рекламы.
Поддержи свободную прессу!
Некоторые функции могут быть заблокированы, отключите модуль ADS Blocker .
Спасибо за понимание!
Команда IPN.