The political analyst Anatol Țăranu thinks there is a likelihood of snap elections as the February 24 plebiscite might not be validated over mounting allegations of electoral misconduct faced by the Socialists.
“Take the press reports about the case at the Moldovan Embassy in Russia or the resurfaced Bahamas files about foreign financing. And the quite intensely discussed allegations of some 20 million dollars, or euros or whatever being brought here on a plane (to be spent on the Socialist campaign) are more than enough to call into question the fairness of these elections. The problem is who controls this process”, Anatol Țăranu told a public discussion focusing on post-election scenarios.
But likelier, thinks Țăranu, is the emergence of a leftist coalition, one that would put a break on Eurointegration processes without reversing them entirely. But this this could seriously erode the Socialists’ support. Then there’s a likelihood of a pro-European, minority government. “Right after elections as the dust settles down and Parliament seats are distributed, one priority of the Democratic Party would be to approach NOW with the proposal to form a pro-European government, and NOW will be put under tremendous pressure if they refuse. Because doing so, refusing a pro-European government, will make them enter the race for the snap elections with their reputation battered”, says Țăranu.
But NOW should know better, suggests the pundit. If they accept to vote in a pro-European minority government, “they can head with confidence into the snap elections, which are imminent because a minority government cannot go on for four years. In this case they get to keep their image untarnished: voting in a pro-European government while at the same time refusing a direct coalition with a party they regard with contempt. If the same thing happens with a Socialist minority government, the NOW Bloc would face a great penalty from their voters for letting the Socialists take power, a party that is essentially anti-European even if Igor Dodon and some members try to keep appearances by maintaining they are a multi-vector party”.
The fact that the Socialists are the best rated party doesn’t mean they will get to dictate the terms of the future political combinations. If they do participate in the future government, they will get the supporting role, even with a majority of seats in Parliament, says Țăranu. “Most likely the Democtarts will take the leading role”. Another possibility is that the Socialists are able to recruit a faction of NOW into a short-term maneuver, suicidal for the latter, to take down the Democrats and especially its leader. “The odds of such a combination are not very high, but I wouldn’t rule it out”.
As confirmed by all the polls, Anatol Țăranu has no doubts three parties – PDM, PSRM and NOW - will be in the next parliament; the question is if there is going to be a fourth as well. Țăranu guesses this might be the Shor Party, while being surprised by the inactivity of the Communists in this race and their consequent “almost zero chance” of making it into Parliament.
As for geopolitics, the Socialists’ continued heavy reliance on this factor in their discourse proves wrong the commentators “who rushed to announce its early demise in Moldovan politics”. The Democrats, on the other hand, are interested in suppressing geopolitical messages “as they didn’t very go well with the party. This happens against a backdrop where in the last decade we have had governments with a very pronounced geopolitical orientation, yet the not so impressive results in this area are unable to win many votes. And the Democrats have done a lot lately to make geopolitics be perceived as less valuable. But this doesn’t mean geopolitics doesn’t play an important role”. And NOW “has swallowed the bait” of not giving due importance to geopolitics, says Țăranu. “Much of their electoral score loss will be due to their inability to exploit the geopolitical factor”.
As for the pro-unification discourse, Țăranu claims it’s for the first time in Moldova’s history that “it is heard so loud and clear” even if the multiple actors promoting it were “unable to come up with a solid and credible manifesto”. “In these elections the unionists won’t take many votes (...) but I think this is the last time when the unionist don’t get to participate directly and significantly in the formation of the next government. In fact, all Moldova’s future governments will have a unionist component, because this campaign marks the end of a political cycle for Moldova. I believe after these elections we are about to enter a new political era that I’d find difficult to clearly define right now, but our old and depleted resources for our society’s development don’t work anymore. Without a developmental leap, our society can’t move on”.
The debate themed “2019 Elections: Post-election scenarios as seen by experts in political sciences, electoral systems and sociology” is part of the “Developing Political Culture” public debates series held with the support of the German foundation Hanns Seidel.