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The Priorities of the Moldovan Political Forces

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September 16, 2002
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This week deputies resume their work in Parliament Commissions. The leaders of Parliament factions have already voiced their priorities for the upcoming session. Most likely opposition would exploit the mistakes and abuses made by authorities in observing democratic norms so as to keep them under the watchful eye of international organizations.

On the other hand, leaders of the ruling party announced that their priority for the time being is to lobby social legislation. The latter is aimed at attenuating ruling party’s deviation from its program goals and from the promises it made during the last elections. During the last Congress of Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Vladimir Voronin referred to the need of liberalizing economic legislation, reduce state’s excessive regulation of economic activity. Such clearly liberal statements were voiced a year ago too, so they aren’t new any longer. After being pushed by the international financial organizations, Communist leaders themselves realized what advantages cooperation with IMF and WB brings to the country. Deviation from the party core principles is the price the Communists would have to pay for resumed financial aid and prospective restructuring of the debt to Paris Club upon adopting of the “Poverty Reduction Strategy”. This is exactly why the initiative to modernize the party has been launched.

Modernization implies certain risks, including a possible negative perception both from ordinary party members as well as Communist voters. That is why the success of party modernization would greatly depend on administrative or financial levers employed. During the last year ruling party managed to take control over all key positions in the state, including justice, and to promote a personnel policy based on loyalty to incumbent regime. Secondly economic scandals of the last year point to the fact that everything possible is done for persons loyal to the ruling party to take hold of the most profitable businesses in the Republic of Moldova. From this perspective privatization is no longer a threat for the ruling party, as long as persons loyal to the ruling party or countries believed to be strategic partners (read Russia) take hold of the domestic enterprises. An illustration in this respect is the privatization of Moldtelecom. After all, this strategy is needed by Moldovan authorities in order to buy the support of Russian political elite, which does not make a secret of its intentions to take a civilized neo-colonial control over the satellites from the CIS. The worsening relations between Russia and Belarus generated among others by the dissatisfaction of the Russian business with Belarus economic policy on privatization and foreign investments only prove the aforesaid. Consequently for Moldovan leaders the euphemism “strategic partnership” implies strictly and unconditionally following the course dictated by Russia. It’s worth mentioning in this respect the declarations of the President or Parliament Chair regarding Republic of Moldova integration in the European Union through Russia-Belarus Union or Eurasia Customs Union. Although simple this policy proved to be a very successful one. However, Russia’s option to follow a capitalist path of development imposes an urgent modernization of the ruling Communist party. Otherwise, there are enough political forces in the Republic of Moldova welcoming the strategic partnership with Russian as well as capitalism and ready to replace the Communist Party. The pro-Russian message needs to be constantly updated with new initiatives, such as legalizing Russian military presence on the soil of the Republic of Moldova, reported by the Communist newspaper.

Moldovan citizens’ nostalgia for the Communist past is not to be ignored, even if ruling party is promoting a capitalist economic policy. That is why such rituals as the recent visit of Parliament Chair Eugenia Ostapciuc to China are absolutely necessary. For Moldovan authorities China, which combines Communist control over public life with economy based on capitalist principles is a perfect possibility to illustrate that deviations from Communism are not voluntary, but rather inspiration from positive experience. This explains the phenomena that the opposition calls “antidemocratic slippage” of the Communist authorities, which are currently under the scrutiny of the Council of Europe.

One may say that Communists are very good at making their ruling as comfortable as possible. Their deviation from Communist principles is accompanied and camouflaged by an efficient propaganda campaign on social security of the disadvantaged strata of society, whose actions might have a huge impact, i.e.: students who are good at protesting and elderly who are active voters. The initiatives to double scholarships to students and indemnify the deposits (lost as a result of price liberalization carried out by the Russian Government headed by Egor Gaidar) despite lack of funds available is an illustration of the way Communists efficiently pick up their target audiences. There is no doubt that those initiatives are populist. For a long-term impact it would have been better for the Communists to take some legislative measures such as ensuring citizens’ deposits, which could be invested in the economic recovery of the country.

The opposition should take into account the fact that the term of 15 years set for recovering lost deposits might be the term Communists intend to stay in power. May be this is enough for the dispersed right-wing opposition to designate a single candidate in the electoral campaigns.

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