IPN analysis: Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had a meeting with Igor Dodon. The Socialists hope to gain a maximum of electoral benefits from the joint picture with the Russian leader. But who did Putin do a service in fact: the Party of Socialists or the pro-European forces?
Meeting with significances
It has been long rumored that the leader of the Party of Socialists (PSRM) Igor Dodon was to have a meeting with the President of Russia Vladimir Putin. The subject was reported by the Moldovan mass media and was discussed in political couloirs and by the community of experts. According to the idea of the Russian partners of Dodon, who take part in the working out of his electoral strategy and who arranged this significant meeting, this event was to become the most important proof that the PSRM deserves to be supported by the voters who orient themselves to Russia and support Moldova’s entry into the Customs Union.
The shaking of hands with the Russian leader took place and was recorded by photo and video cameras. It is absolutely evident that during the several weeks that remained until the elections, the picture of “Dodon with Putin” will represent the key element of the Socialists’ campaign. Given that Vladimir Putin is one of the most popular foreign politicians in Moldova, the trump card obtained by the PSRM will certainly produce results. But will these results be sufficient for a victory?
In secondary roles
Thee are several factors that do not allow the Socialists to fully achieve their priorities. First of all, the realities on the center-left show, as earlier, that the PSRM plays a secondary role. The Communist Party (PCRM) and Vladimir Voronin remain a political ‘magnet’ for the supporters of the Customs Union and of the rapprochement with Russia. Surely, many of those who became disappointed leave the Communists, but not all of them join the PSRM. Furthermore, the number of defecting members is not so large for the PCRM to lose its status of the largest party of the political left. Besides, it’s obvious that the Communists transformed Dodon’t criticism into a major party line in their election campaign. Indirectly, this favors the ruling parties and reduces the electoral chances of the former member of the PCRM.
Another evident problem of the Socialists is the participation in elections of their ideological doubles in the person of the Bloc “Moldova’s Choice – the Customs Union”. This bloc not only uses identical slogans, but also stands near the Socialists in the ballot, in accordance with the decision of the Central Election Commission.
Last weekend, one of the leaders of this bloc – the Governor of Gagauzia Mihail Formuzal, who heads the Party of Regions – announced that he decided to withdraw from the bloc. IPN reported earlier that Formuzal was considered by the Russian partners of Dodon as a participant in the political project of the PSRM, but the Governor had a different opinion as regards his participation in the election campaign. Consequently, Formuzal faced a dilemma: to join the PSRM or at least to call on the voters to support the Socialists, or to gave up taking part in the elections. He chose the second variant.
Nevertheless, the possible advantage that Dodon can get from Formuzal’s withdrawal is yet illusory. The other leaders of the Bloc “Moldova’s Choice – the Customs Union” not only announced their intention to continue campaigning, but also added a considerable dose of ‘anti-Dodon’ to their propaganda.
Another aspect that can reduce the efficiency of ‘Putin’s support’ is purely political-strategic in character. Such a gesture as the meeting with the President of Russia could have brought a maximal benefit on the eve of the elections. On the one hand, the political opponents wouldn’t have time to prepare the counterattack. On the other hand, the voters themselves would have gone to the polls in good mood as they wouldn’t have time to pragmatically analyze all the subtleties of such a PR action.
Order for Putin
About half a year ago, the Socialists started to appear on the last positions of the political rankings. Before the official start of the election campaign, representatives of Dodon’s party said their rating is close to the election threshold and they have no doubts that they will enter Parliament. Today the PSRM is supported by 8% of the voters, according to sociological surveys. The support given by the head of a world power, who is popular in Moldova, will probably add several percentage points to Dodon. But will this be a success? For politician Igor Dodon it will be a success, but for the ideas he promotes, the PSRM’s result in the elections could turn into defeat.
If the Socialists poll 10-15% of the vote, the pro-European parties will have an important argument in the future debates concerning the choice of the national geopolitical course. They will thus be able to say that there is no division in society over this matter, that the support for such ideas as Moldova’s entry into the Customs Union and the denouncing of the Association Agreement with the EU is not so significant for abandoning the European course.
Thus, Moscow’s plan to have, if not a controlled power, at least a powerful instrument for influencing the Moldovan political class after the November 30 elections does not have many chances to come true as, for this to happen, Dodon should win at least one third of the ballot. This is beyond his power even if Putin comes personally to Moldova and goes from home to home to campaign for the Socialists.
So, the ruling parties can fearlessly ask Moldova’s President to confer the Order of the Republic on Dodon and Putin for their special contribution to Moldova’s integration into the European Union.
Veaceslav Craciun, IPN