Alegerile parlamentare din 2021 în Republica Moldova -

Ratio of forces: power — opposition

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Igor Botan / January 25, 2004
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Right-wing opposition

Although there is still one year left until the next parliamentary elections the major political parties have already engaged in talks on possible alliances as well as testing what messages would the electorate go for. Considering the results of past local elections and recent opinion polls, only four political parties do have a chance to get seats in Parliament, namely: Christian-Democrats, Moldova Noastra Alliance, Democratic Party and Communist Party.

The first three are members of the Committee on Defending the Independence and Constitution, established on 24 November, 2003 to oppose the Kozak plan. It is these parties that the Christian-Democrats’ January 14 declaration addressed, calling them to establish a single opposition electoral bloc. The reactions that followed were more negative than positive. Therefore, it is believed that the three parties would most likely become centres of attraction for other smaller centre-left and centre-right parties. At best, Moldova Noastra and Democratic Party would form an electoral bloc, however there are more and more doubts in this respect. It may well happen that the leaders of the said parties would give up the idea of establishing electoral blocs in order to have wide berth for manoeuvres on an eventual post-electoral coalition with the Communist Party, in case the latter fails to secure enough votes to form a Government and elect the President.

From all the parties on the centre and centre-right spectrum only three parties, i.e. Social Democratic, Social Liberal and Centrist Union (having in all around 6% that is equal to the threshold of representation) might be of interest in establishing coalitions. On the other hand, none of the three parties could be sure that it would gather alone 3% of the votes, which represents the progressive threshold established for the electoral blocs. That is why, it makes sense to form alliances only with strong parties or blocs made up of two or more parties, for whom passing a 9% and respectively 12% threshold is not an issue. Otherwise, the right-wing would again waist the considerable number of votes, which once again would be redistributed proportionally in favour of the Communist Party.

The other 4–5 centre-right parties together may attract no more than 1–2% of the votes. They represent the so-called “political plankton” which only “dims the waters” and might be of use in feeding “political sharks”. Anyway, the chances of the united right-wing opposition, whether it chooses to go united in the upcoming election, or in two or three groups able to pass the threshold, are still quite vague.

Communist Party potential in elections

For now, the Communist Party is the only one on the political scenery endowed with practically unlimited financial resources, access to state mass media and administrative levers. Moreover, Communist Party promoted loyal persons into the new membership of the Central Electoral Commission, a key institution in administering elections. Communist Party also practically subdued a part of the trade unions of Moldova, who together with the public officers promoted by the party, veteran organisations and party structures may become the most efficient propaganda squads and electoral agents in the upcoming elections. They would employ all the mechanisms at hand to convince electorate that Communist Party is the one and only party caring for the vulnerable strata of the society, a rather profitable strategy in a poor country. Wage and pension raise, European integration and many other things the incumbent ruling takes the credit for, would be heavily exploited. And it would be the opposition’s task to show the other side of the coin.

The aforesaid factors, coupled with the last election results and recent opinion polls may give the impression that Communists would dominate the next polls in the legislature. However, one might have such an impression only if casting a static eye on the state of affairs. When viewed in dynamics, the aforesaid factors might considerably depress Communists’ morale.

For one thing, in the recent May local elections Communists had at hand a good portion of the arsenal it does have today, nevertheless it registered a slight decrease in electorate’s sympathy. Secondly, the impact of the aforesaid factors would be slightly diminished by the constant monitoring from the European institutions, which Christian-Democrats sought so badly when initiating a new round of protest rallies. Thirdly, President Voronin himself confirmed in an interview to ORT-Moldova TV that the economic growth registered in the last three years was largely due to applying an exploitative form of economic growth, that is, the outcomes of structural reforms promoted by so-called democrats were fully exploited, reforms which were halted by Communists and which are to be resumed. Everybody has already seen Communists’ ability to conduct reforms, especially in as far as healthcare insurance is concerned. That is why it is very unlikely that in a pre-election year Communists’ would have the guts to resume structural reforms, they would rather pursue populist policies. Therefore, it is to be expected that the relations with international monetary organisations would not improve and the coffers for populist measures would be empty. This is the more so, as the prices on food and energy have significantly increased lately. Despite this, authorities announced a further increase of the gas and electricity prices, which would likely bring about an increase in the goods and services prices.

And last but not least, Communist Party has ended with no political allies having at least some power. During the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Communist Party, President Voronin mentioned only Agrarian Democratic Party among the “friendly parties”. The latter has a 2–3% rating, percentage not to be neglected in the upcoming elections. On the other hand, Agrarian Democratic Party is solely responsible for securing and misusing the greatest portion of the foreign loans Republic of Moldova has received. Therefore, to make alliance with them is to tarnish their own image. Moreover, Communist’s arrogance has brought the left-wing opposition to the limelight, which might again affect Communists’ outcomes in the parliamentary elections.

Left wing opposition

Permanent clashes between the Communist Party and right-wing opposition have cast the left wing in a shadow. However, this outgoing phenomenon is quite dangerous for the Communist Party for several reasons. Firstly, the arrogance displayed by the Communist leaders compromised the idea of Centre-Left Union. It could have brought together 10 political forces, including Democratic Party and Agrarian Democratic Party, and would have enabled Communist Party to ingest the entire “political plankton” of the left and even some of the big “fishes”. Secondly, the ever-growing discrepancy between words and deeds of the Communist party moguls has taken aback many of the Communist supporters. For instance, Communist Party’s political message pools together things apparently running counter to each other, like: edifying Communism and fostering economic liberalism; praising God and praising the militating atheist — Lenin; soviet-type free healthcare system and obligatory medical insurance; EU integration and joining Russia-Belarus Union, etc. Thirdly, it is the Russian’s factor influence wielded on Moldovan politics, namely economic pressure and Transdnistrian conflict.

President Voronin’s manoeuvres in settling Transdnistrian conflict have peaked in the change of the Republic of Moldova’s political course, even if only in rhetoric, as well as in the refusal to sign Kozak plan. The latter considerably damaged the relationship between Moldovan and Russian authorities, who are now openly supporting Tiraspol regime.

Communist party moguls know far too well what might be the likely impact of the Russian factor on election results. Vladimir Voronin’s visits paid to Moscow during the last electoral campaign, as well as Kremlin’s open support to him influenced the votes of the Russian speaking electorate of Moldova. That it is indeed so, one may just remember the way Chisinau official propaganda tried to convince the people that even after Voronin had refused to sign Kozak plan, he was still viewed by Kremlin as the only political figure worthy of their trust.

One may also asses the possible effects of the Russian factor if considering Georgian example, when before the recent presidential elections the leaders of the two breakaway regions and Adjara were summoned to Moscow in an attempt to show the would-be winner, who is really behind the separatist movements in the country. The greatest declared friend of Russia, Alexandr Lukanshenko, also had the chance to feel on his own the power of market arguments and levers used by Russia when it recently cut off the gas supply to Belarus. In this respect one should also consider President Putin’s interest in presidential elections in Ukraine scheduled for fall 2003.

In their turn Moldovan authorities have received a very clear signal from Kremlin administration that it won’t give up the Kozak plan of settling Transdnistrian conflict, which President Voronin had rejected. In this respect, the Transdnistrian and Russian factor will go hand in hand in the upcoming electoral campaign.

An illustration to this effect is the recent declaration of the two socialist parties in support of the Kozak plan. Several other pro-Russian left-wing parties, as well as the New Communist Party to be founded, would most likely join the two socialist parties in an attempt to build up a strong political force similar to Interfront of the 90’s. Even among the incumbent MPs one may find political figures among the “independents”, who do have a large experience in this respect and are able to take the leadership of the united left-wing opposition. Most likely this opposition would enjoy the moral and political support of Russia and financial support of Transdnistria. It would also enjoy wide coverage from Russian media, the leader on the Moldovan market. And most importantly, this left-wing opposition could secure all of them legally. Therefore, due to the Russian factor, the establishment of a united left-wing opposition would have more chances for success than a similar right-wing opposition.

Moreover, Tiraspol has another ass in its sleeve that it hasn’t used so far. On the eve of the next parliamentary elections, Tiraspol might set itself up for being the main proponent of the country integration, of course in line with Kozak plan, and open the polling stations for around 400 thousand voters (around 15–20% of Moldovan electorate) in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Even if only a part of them do cast their ballots it would induce a “domino effect” shifting the preferences of the Russian-speaking electorate of Moldova by veering them to the left, in particular in favour of the left-wing opposition.

One may not also exclude the possibility of massive exodus of dissatisfied party members from the Communist Party to the left-wing opposition. In this respect a mention should be made that recently while President Voronin assured foreign diplomats accredited in Chisinau of Moldova’s strong commitment towards European integration, the leader of the Communist faction in Parliament, Victor Stepaniuc, attended the session of the Union of Communist Parties’ executive committee, which did reconfirm rebuilding URSS as a strategic goal of the Union. What the President called opposition to do — not to change their political message depending on the geographic location where it was delivered — was breached by the very Executive Secretary of the Communist Party, Victor Stepaniuk. Another factor to consider is that the potential partner of the Communist Party in the much thought but never achieved Centre-Left Union, i.e. Democratic Party, has recently excluded from its political programme the provision on EU integration. Instead, Democratic Party outlined the stake that would determine it to join an eventual coalition in the upcoming elections or afterwards, namely Prime-Minister position. The aforesaid examples highlight that leaders from different political spectrums, as well as some leaders of the Communist Party, seek to adjust themselves to the Russian factor and to exploit it at full in the upcoming campaign.


In conclusion, official propaganda should better refrain from mocking right wing opposition and claiming that the next Parliament would be of a single political colour. One may not rule out that the Communist Party would secure again an absolute majority in Parliament, given the resources they have at hand and their willingness to unscrupulously make full use of them. However, all the factors listed above might have their saying as well, resulting in a multi-coloured Parliament. That is why it’s hard to predict yet what colours would prevail in the next legislature.

The uncertainty is so high that one may well venture into predicting all kinds of combinations, such as a coalition of the reformatory Communists, Moldova Noastra Alliance and Democratic Party, and this only if the President sticks to the European integration idea. If the Russian factor proves to be decisive, the strategic goal of Moldova might again shift towards CIS structures. In this case, Communist Party might form a coalition with the would-be left-wing opposition and Democratic Party so as to enforce the federalisation plan. Other scenarios are less likely. However, one thing is for sure — the parliamentary system established in Moldova after the modification of the Constitution in 2000 is still quite fragile to cope with heterogeneous coalitions, especially as Moldovan political elites’ culture and principality went to the most ludicrous length and is likely to bring about political instability.

Is European integration still of strategic importance? The power of reason