Socialists’ departures and decline. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“The PSRM is in trouble. On the one hand, it says that it wants snap parliamentary elections. On the other hand, it insists on remaining anchored in the old paradigm of the Russian Spring that can lead to an impasse only. In such circumstances, the inducing of snap parliamentary elections is crucial for confirming the irremediable decline of the PSRM...”
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PSRM’s Congress decided to keep party in an impasse

The 16th Congress of December 30, 2020 of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) confirmed the party’s incapacity to end the impasse it has experienced during the past few years. The reelection of Igor Dodon as president of the PSRM means stagnation and lack of prospects for the party, especially because Igor Dodon, as the formal and informal president of the PSRM earlier, was unable to propose a realistic program for the development of the party and the country.

It’s true that Igor Dodon managed to remove the PSRM from anonymity, securing its temporary ascent that is followed by an inevitable fall. Igor Dodon’s venturing into supporting the annexation of Crimea by Russia for the reason that this could also help recover the historical territories lost by Moldova to Ukraine turned out to be a trap in which both Igor Dodon and the PSRM fell irremediably. The irresponsible manifestation of irredentism turned Igor Dodon into Vladimir Putin’s ally without own will. Putin instead secured Igor Dodon’s removal from anonymity and the switchover of a part of the Communist supporters of Vladimir Voronin to the PSRM. And this is the only political accomplishment of Igor Dodon that until recently helped him and the PSRM to somehow remain on the crest of the political wave.

After Igor Dodon suffered a defeat in the presidential elections of November 2020, the PSRM’s congress was to analyze the situation and to offer the party the opportunity of ending the impasse, electing a non-discredited leader and adopting a new political program. But it wasn’t meant to be. It’s true that under the pressure of circumstances, the PSRM during over two years has attempted to change its political course, but all in vain. The profoundness of the impasse is so deep that the members of the PSRM pretend not to be seeing the repeated violation of the provisions of the party’s statutes. The statutes define the method of adopting normative decisions; the order of calling congresses; the obligation to approve the work program and the political position of the political party during an electoral cycle (art. 4.20.b). The last time the PSRM adjusted it political program at the start of an electoral cycle in 2014, before the parliamentary elections of November 30. What is more serious is that the National Council of the PSRM, which is the supreme body managing the affairs between congresses, adopted a series of decisions that were simply ignored.

For example, on June 16, 2018, before the ordinary parliamentary elections of 2019, the National Council decided to call the party’s 16th ongress. Under the statutes, the congress was to adopt a new political program, but in a weird way, for unclear reasons, the congress didn’t take place. In fact, the 16th congress announced in June 2018 was held in over two years, in December 2020! And this is a conclusive example of the state in which the PSRM and the party’s administrative bodies are now. They are not even able to respect the own decisions. But the interesting things do not end here. In the 16th congress of December 30, 2020, the reelected President of the PSRM Igor Dodon urged the President of the Republic of Moldova Maia Sandu to swiftly initiate the procedure for dissolving Parliament, even if the given problem wasn’t discussed and approved by the congress. But the statutes provide that before the new electoral cycle, the congress of the PSRM should adopt a new political program as a reference point for the eventual electoral program. It can be thus concluded that the new old president of the PSRM Igor Dodon either does not know the provisions of the statutes of the party he manages or he resumed his old habit – to play political chess so as to mislead the political partners.

Causes for PSRM’s confusion

We saw that the political maneuvers of the PSRM not only deceive the political opponents and the own members, but also bypass the statutory norms and the decisions taken by the executive bodies of the PSRM. It happens so due to the lack of firm convictions among the members of the party’s senior administration or to external constraints. This way, for the party’s leaders there is only one reference point in the process of adopting decisions – the interests of the strategic partners from the Kremlin. It is a kind of datur – a moral obligation dating from 2014, when Igor Dodon and the PSRM accepted the services of President Putin in exchange for electoral support. This captivity is confirmed every time the PSRM has to take important decisions. The trip to Moscow by a group of PSRM members led by Igor Dodon right before the recent congress of the party is a relevant proof.

In such circumstances, the question is if the PSRM and its leader at least tried ever to withdraw from the tutelage of the strategic partnership? Curiously, the answer is positive. They tried, but didn’t manage to and resigned themselves to this. Here are several examples:

  • The speech of ex-President Igor Dodon at the Crans Montana Forum of June 28, 2018 referred also to the Republic of Moldova’s intention to join the European Union: “We are to design a strategic reform plan so that when the subject of the Republic of Moldova’s entry into the European Union is raised, the country is ready from all the viewpoints. It should be noted that this speech was given after the National Council on June 16, 2018 arranged the 16th congress of the PSRM, where a new political program was to be adopted, possibly instead of that of 2014, which was agreed in the period of the Russian Spring. Enigmatically, the congress didn’t take place and this was held only recently, without the modification of the political program. Moreover, the daring speech of Igor Dodon, which was designed to change the development paradigm of the Republic of Moldova, was removed furtively from the official website of the presidential administration and from the personal webpage of the ex-President;
  • Igor Dodon’s attempt of June 2019 to substitute the PSRM’s financing from the sources of GAZPROM (min.0.38 – 0.46) with financing from local sources of the coordinator of the power in that period Vlad Plahotniuc, with the intermediation of  Costea and Cornel. But this time the Socialists also didn’t manage to withdraw from the tutelage of the Kremlin, probably because they were to enter the exclusive tutelage of coordinator Plahotniuc, which was very risky, especially because Igor Dodon tried to deceive the coordinator with the federalization of the Republic of Moldova. That’s why, after the exhausting torments of the night of June 8, 2019, it was decided to renounce the double tutelage in favor of the definitive tutelage of the strategic partner from the Kremlin.  

We are now witnessing the tutelage of the strategic partner over the PSRM, with reporting and explaining to this and with the presentation of the future actions for being approved and formalized at the party’s congresses. The level for coordination of the PSRM’s actions with the actions of the strategic partners from Moscow is amazing. This way the adoption by the PSRM, with the assistance of the Shor Party, of a series of controversial laws coincided with the adoption by the State Duma of Russia of a package of repressive laws against the civil rights. What a fruitful cooperation and coordination of activities! 

Conclusions

Electing Igor Dodon as the leader of the PSRM and abandoning the adoption of a new political program, the 16th congress decided that the party will stick to the paradigm of the Russian Spring that was embraced together with the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014. This way the political program of the PSRM remains focused on the necessity of annulling the Association Agreement with the European Union and Moldova’s entry into the Eurasian Economic Union.

By its recent actions, the PSRM informed society that it intends to use the Russian development model that, after the annexation of Crimea, waging of the war in Donbas and the recent Navalny case, has no other prospect than the international isolation and internal destabilization. The given methods of the Russian authorities acclaimed by the PSRM have yet the opposite effect. The people’s reaction to President Vladimir Putin’s New Year speech is a relevant proof. This speech was retouched by the managers of the main Russian TV channels by blocking the message approval and disapproval meters. In such circumstances, the PSRM boasts of enabling the recent return of the Russian propagandistic programs to Moldova’s information space.

Being on the wave of the Russian Spring for six years, the PSRM didn’t manage to do something special, except for the country’s international isolation and the stripping of the country of prospects. The results of the recent presidential elections prove that most of the Moldovan citizens no longer approve of the given direction. That’s why the PSRM is in trouble. On the one hand, it says that it wants snap parliamentary elections. On the other hand, it insists on remaining anchored in the old paradigm of the Russian Spring that can lead to an impasse only. In such circumstances, the inducing of snap parliamentary elections is crucial for confirming the irremediable decline of the PSRM. The sociological survey carried out in December 2020, several weeks after Igor Dodon’s defeat in the presidential elections, confirmed the PSRM’s decline.

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