Union of division

IPN analysis: The recent sociological polls show that the idea of Moldova’s integration into the Customs Union is accepted by not less than half of the people. But this does not guarantee the victory in elections of the political forces that are campaigning for the Customs Union. Moreover, the pro-Russian parties themselves can bring to power another Alliance for European Integration by their acts.

“Promoters of Customs Union”

Gagauzia is justly called an electoral basis of parties that are for Moldova’s entry into the Customs Union. The pro-Russian spirit has always been powerful in the region. The local referendum on the external development course that was held in February showed that the people’s spirits can easily become a political resource for the politicians. The problem is that there are too many contenders for this political resource.

Several weeks ago, the administration of the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia announced that it gives its support to the Party of Socialists (PSRM) headed by Igor Dodon. On October 24, a similar declaration was made by the Council of Elders of Gagauzia, which is a nongovernmental organization that brings together elders from all the settlements of the autonomous unit. It should be noted that this Council repeatedly received financial support from the region’s budget. Partially because of this, it was considered an organization loyal to the Gagauz authorities in the person of Mihail Formuzal. Therefore, the fact that the elders threw political support to the electoral opponents of Formuzal was unexpected for many people.

The receiving of public support from NGOs and other organizations is certainly only an aspect of the election campaign carried out by the parties. But the activism of the PSRM in this respect already allows it claim the title of one of the main promoters of the Customs Union in Gagauzia.

“The party of the Kremlin”

Another event that indirectly characterizes the state and reciprocal relations between the Moldovans lobbying for the integration into the Customs Union was the publication by one of the Russian federal news agencies of an article about the necessity of Russia supporting the unified ‘party of the Kremlin’ (those interested can search “’Russia is behind them’: the party of the Kremlin in Moldovan political terrarium” in Google)  in the parliamentary elections of Moldova.

The article contains examples of the irrational promotion by Russia of its protégés Dodon and Formuzal. Their participation in elections as contenders will lead to the dispersal of the votes of their supporters and the diminution of the chances of both of the forces. That’s why Russia is advised to make a choice: to unite the parties that are for the Customs Union into a bloc so as to give the forces loyal to the Kremlin the chance to come to power, or to create conditions for Igor Dodon to win the required 8% and form a noisy opposition that would decide nothing with the pro-European forces in power.

The author of the article is presented as a resident of Comrat. However, the article was first published in the Russian mass media and then in the Gagauz media. In a way, it looked like a signal to the Moscow politicians and political strategists, on whom the configuration of the pro-Russian forces depends. Given that the article promotes the advantages of the unified bloc and criticizes party egoism, it’s not hard to realize what circles initiated the publication of this article.

Conflict with the ‘architects’

If we admit that Moscow indeed took part in deciding the format of participation of its supporters in the electoral race, it’s evident that Dodon was chosen to be the main favorite and, respectively, the main beneficiary of the possible assistance. The other figures had to probably get a place on the Party of Socialists’ list of candidate. Some of them indeed obtained a place, but not all of them. To all appearances, Mihail Formuzal is among those who didn’t get a place. There can be formulated a number of reasons why the governor of Gagauzia didn’t consider it acceptable to run in the elections on the Socialist ticket. But it is yet more important how he will behave during the month that remained until the elections: he will try to unite the pro-Russian voters into the bloc “Moldova’s Choice – Customs Union” or will accept to make concessions in favor of the political project of Dodon. The chances that the Internet articles will convince the Kremlin of the appropriateness of supporting a single bloc of the promoters of the Customs Union are slim. It would be stupid to believe that these articles weren’t preceded by numerous visits to Moscow and long discussions in offices of high-ranking officials, which obviously didn’t produce results.

Thus, the conflict between Formuzal and the position of the Russian ‘political architects’ leaves no chance for a union with the Party of Socialists based on parity principles. And this means that the pro-Russian voters (most of whom are controlled by the Communists) will inevitably split and the chances of creating a new Alliance for European Integration will thus increase. As to Formuzal, it is rather improbable that he will avoid the consequences for himself. Anyway, if he announces his withdraw from politics after the elections, we should not be surprised.

Veaceslav Craciun, for IPN

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