Second attempt to step into same river. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“The vehement criticism leveled by the PLDM at the PAS in principle should not bother. The problem is that to be credible in its critical verve, the PLDM should assume responsibility for the own actions...”

Start of electoral period

On August 7, the electoral period for the local general elections of November 5, 2023 started.  The given elections are important for a number of reasons as these are held in exceptional conditions: a) in accordance with a new Election Code, with much more elaborate and hard to meet regulations; b) under a state of emergency, most probably. The last factor, regarding governance under a nonstop state of emergency, made so that practically all the opposition parties – parliamentary and extraparliamentary ones – challenged the government of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS). The PAS government made it clear that the state of emergency will be extended periodically until the war in Ukraine is over, without any impact on political activity and the conduct of elections.

In the given elections, the PAS is advantaged by: a) holding of quasi-total power in the country, respectively of the administrative factor; b) access to financial resources in the amount of over 40% of the total volume of financing of parties from the public budget; c) broad access to the media, etc. The effects of the given advantages are yet diminished by the: a) bad socioeconomic and political state in the country; b) negative impact of the war in the neighborhood; c) thorny implementation of reforms; d) concerted resistance put up by the state bodies that are being reformed and oligarchic clans interested in keeping influence over these; e) full absence of allies among national political forces, at least among pro-European parties.

The PAS’s self-isolation is considered a consequence of the selfishness and arrogance of the party’s leaders or simply of its incapacity to communicate efficiently. One way or another, in the upcoming elections the PAS will be besieged from all sides. Experience shows that the local elections involve ½ to 2/3 of the registered parties. For example, in the local general elections of 2019, 27 parties of the 46 registered contended. In the current elections, 60 parties can take part, meaning that the PAS will be attacked by about 30-40 opponents. Evidently, the opponents of the PAS are very different and among the main of these are: a) the Communist-Socialist parliamentary opposition; b) a cluster of parties animated by the clan of criminal fugitives Plahotniuc&Shor; c) a series of pro-European parties that are dissatisfied with the pace of reforms; d) a series of declared unionist parties, with the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) being the most conspicuous among these, etc.

Durability of Moldovan parties

In the existing circumstances, the political fate of the PAS does not matter much. Experience shows that in the Republic of Moldova, there were no durable political forces that would have stayed at the top of the political life for longer than about a decade – two parliamentary mandates. For example, the Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova (PDAM) which dominated the political arena in 1993-1998 practically disappeared without any trace. The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) dominated the political life in 2001-2009, turning later into a club of gerontocrats. The components of the Alliance for European Integration (AEI), among which was the PLDM, together or separately dominated the political life in 2009-2019 owing to mafia methods until they gradually cannibalized each other. The Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) has remained on the political arena since 2014, with popular approval of approximately 30% owing to Vladimir Putin’s support in exchange for public support for the annexation of Crimea. There is no doubt that the acceptance of the PAS at the top of the political life in 2021 was also circumstantial. The principal question is, will the PAS manage to definitively anchor the Republic of Moldova in the European project or not before it is removed from the political roadway?

Demonization as a dangerous propaganda instrument

Returning to the declared opponents that challenge the PAS government, it should be noted that one of the most vocal ones of these is the PLDM that attacks the PAS from purportedly pro-European positions. At first sight, the PLDM’s attacks seem to be elaborate, but they manifest themselves through the launch of open letters addressed to the PAS and the country’s senior administration, which is followed by harsh comments. There is nothing to be reproached for. They started the attacks on April 13, 2023 with the open letter to the country’s administration in which this is requested  “to immediately stop the illegal practice of attacking local elected officials of the PLDM from the republic’s districts and to stop the acts to corrupt the mayors of the PLDM by offering advances from the State Budget so as to engage them in the local elections on the part of the PAS”. As it didn’t receive a response to the open letter, the PLDM decided to individualize  its message, warning the Speaker of Parliament Igor Grosu on June 20: “the mission of a party is to grow own candidates, not to resort to “intellectual stealing” of staff trained by another party”. An open letter was also addressed to President Maia Sandu on July 5, concerning the demographic crisis, which was followed by an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Dorin Recean on July 10, about the budgetary state at the moment: “we ask you to publish the budgetary state at the moment and also the anticipated tendencies. The citizens must know the real situation so as to see what decisions to take to build the future themselves, if the state cannot do this”.

In the absence of reactions to the four open letters, the chairman of the PLDM Vlad Filat decided to resort to the heavy artillery – labeling of the PAS in the most negative ways. In this regard, on August 1 he kicked off the campaign “Stop PAS! Start Freedom!”, evoking a similar campaign started in the municipal elections of 2007, against the Communist government of Vladimir Voronin. In essence, the PLDM considers that: “The PAS is not a political party, but is a dangerous and toxic social phenomenon. This is a radical group. Two years of PAS governance led to the destruction of the economy. Over 88,000 Moldovans had to leave the country. The PAS subjugated the state institutions, weakening them simultaneously. Maia Sandu supported the attack on the state institutions, accrediting publicly the idea that the PAS has the right to divide the people into those who deserve the trust of the PAS and the others, into “good people” and “bad ones”… Sandu never managed to become the President of all the citizens, remaining the leader of the PAS, and now the policy pursued by the authorities is aimed at bringing Moldova to its knees”.

The evoking of the STOP vs. START formula, which is over 15 years old, is nothing but an attempt by the PLDM leader Vlad Filat to step into the same river the second time. All the rest, the accusations against the PAS were taken from the arsenal of the Communist-Socialist opponents, doing these a big favor.

Instead of blaming oneself...

The vehement criticism leveled by the PLDM at the PAS in principle should not bother. The problem is that to be credible in its critical verve, the PLDM should assume responsibility for the own actions. For example, the party’s website that hasn’t been updated for about two years astounds any person who is intrigued by the combative élan of the PLDM. When visiting the website, one involuntarily comes across the PLDM’s appeal of June 28, 2021, entitled the PLDM calls on the pro-European and unionist parties to withdraw from the electoral race. The call was published in a critical moment of the parliamentary election campaign that was won by the PAS, two weeks before election day: “The Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, realizing the danger of perpetuation of state captivity by the red oligarchy that continues to be led by the Plahotniuc-Dodon duo, realizing that the Republic of Moldova, in the absence of a pro-European government, risks remaining in the gray zone of the international relations system, analyzing the real situation, including public opinion polls, appreciating the complete good faith of the pro-European and unionist parties, calls on these political parties to withdraw from the electoral race and to support the Party of Action and Solidarity in these elections”.

From the aforementioned, we can easily deduce that the PLDM and its leaders often make mistakes. This is something normal. It happens. However, it was appropriate for the PLDM, before launching the recent messages that demonize the PAS, at least to eat humble pie and to apologize to the pro-European and unionist parties and to the voters. It wasn’t meant to be. Surely, we can admit that the PLDM is always sincere and it therefore always makes mistakes.

We must admit that the non-updated website of the PLDM is an indicator of the fact that the party does not have financial resources to conduct its propaganda activities. However, it would be a pity to moan. The truth is the leader of the PLDM is assisted at media level by a former employee of his, of the times when he served as prime minister. Moreover, a former political struggle mate who ran as a candidate in the parliamentary elections of 2009 on the PLDM’s ticket before becoming deputy chairman of Our Party that is led by Renato Usatyi, also assists him. The journalistic and political biography of the latter is really impressive. In the 1990s, he edited the Social-Democrats’ paper  “The Republic” and later “Moldavskye Vedomosti”, which is affiliated to Nicolae Andronic, who was the deputy chairman of the PDAM, then of the Renaissance and Conciliation Party  (PRC) and chairman of the Republican People’s Party (PPP). With such rich political arsenal, the latter recently started to contribute at media level to the reanimation of the weakened political muscle of Vlad Filat, starting from the precondition of the existence of a similarity between the Maia Sandu’s government and the Nazi government

From the aforementioned, it is evident that the leader of the PLDM needs much more powerful media assistance than the current one. Or, for the broad circles of voters, the political evolution of the PLDM in the recent past will remain unclear. Earlier, things were clear. Approximately ten years ago, Vlad Filat simply copied the behavior of Vladimir Putin, wearing the watch on the right hand, for example. Currently, we see that the attitude of sympathy with Putin persists as he mentioned that this “was and is very powerful, sees things very ably”. Probably, a sample of ability is the fact that Putin got an arrest warrant against him issued by the International Criminal Court on March 17, 2023 for crimes committed in Ukraine. In fact, a much more profound, mystical tie could exist between Vladimir Vasilievich Filat and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. We should probably regard from this angle the recent address by Patriarch Kirill to Putin: ”Your highness, dear Vladimir Vasilievich...”

A thief crying “stop thief”?

As it was already mentioned, a year ago on June 20, 2022, the PLDM launched its epistolary communication with the PAS government, which in 2023 continued with another three open letters. In that correspondence, the PAS is accused of intellectual theft through the luring of staff educated by the PLDM. Over a year has passed and, in order to combat the intellectual theft, the PLDM on August 1, 2023 launched the campaign STOP PAS! START Freedom! It is amazing, but in only a day, on August 3, 2023, Vlad Filat reportedly met with a municipal adviser from Balti of the National Moldavian Party (PNM) and this party’s candidate for mayor of Balti in the municipal elections of November 5, 2023, motivating this financially so as to join the PLDM. Respectively, on August 12, 2023, the PNM issued a press release saying: “We regret the decision of Sergiu Burlacu, in whom the PNM team invested trust, resources and time, and whom it promoted as a candidate for mayor of the municipality of Balti. We will also notify the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office of the attempts to corrupt members of the PNM by the leader of the PLDM Vlad Filat”. If this is true, this is the height of hypocrisy.

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