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Competition of ideas for the public good

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Igor Botan / April 11, 2004
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Political life has been dominated lately by a competition of ideas among the leaders of the major political forces. So far, it’s too early to say for sure whether the ideas voiced really clarify on political offers, or on the contrary complicate things even further. Let’s consider each of them in greater detail.

Moldova Noastra (Our Moldova) Alliance

It is all-too-clear that the efforts to unite political forces in view of 2005 parliamentary elections have been the major incentive for the competition of ideas. Chisinau Mayor and Co-chairperson of Our Moldova, Serafim Urechean, was one of the political leaders to engage in the race. Two months ago he published in “Moldavskie Vedomosti” (no. 619) a program article entitled “Moldova has to have a dream”, which was to be turned latter on into a “national idea” called “European project”.

“The three years Communist Party was in power were lost for the Republic of Moldova” believes Urechean, therefore he wonders “aren’t authorities aware of the fact that friendship with Russia does not stem from political or economic conjuncture” but rather is a historic choice of Moldova? Also, Urechean believes Republic of Moldova’s strategic goal should be “alpha and omega of our movement forward — European integration, Republic of Moldova accession to EU”.

The author believes for the “Moldova’s dream” to come true, authorities should refrain from teetering between East and West and accept a “middle way” of good relations with the West and East alike. That in turn, would enable Republic of Moldova to become a “Switzerland of the Balkans” by exploiting the advantages of its geographic location. “The golden middle way” stands according to Urechean for “organic integration of Moldova in the South-Eastern Europe’s free trade area”, as well as in “the CIS single economic zone comprising Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus”.

Later on, another Our Moldova Co-chair Dumitru Braghis relayed the race by publishing in “Saptamina” weekly (no. 587) an article entitled “The System”. The gist of the article refers to the fact that before engaging in pursuing the “national idea”, one should diagnose political regime in Moldova first. He goes on saying “We never fully acknowledged that we are the hostages of a SYSTEM, that operates in line with the following formula: money-fear-lie. The parties we established were unable to overcome self-preservation instinct upstart, whereas the only values that mattered were money and fear”. According to Braghis, President Voronin himself was the hostage of the System that operated by means of the so-called “soldiers of the System”, whose goal was to parasitise on the society “body”. The methods used by the “soldiers of the System” resumed to corrupting state institutions.

The solution proposed by Braghis resumes to: “today political class should regroup its forces, regardless of their position — right, centre, or left wing. We should eliminate the soldiers of the System”. And this coming from one of the most efficient Prime-Ministers Moldova has ever saw, who managed throughout almost one year and a half in power (1999–2001) to set an economic growth for the first time ever since 1998 Russian financial crisis and this without a stable endorsement from the Parliament. He also managed to settle the arrears to pensions and wages. In spite of this, to express his thoughts Braghis resorts to the third person plural, giving the impression that his article published only two weeks prior to Easter, was a call to repentance. Interestingly enough, two days after the article was published, another repentance article “The Crisis of Russian Liberalism” was published by Russian Oligarch Mihail Hodorkovskii jailed in Moscow. A rather curious coincidence that stands as an evidence to the fact that the post-soviet countries’ elites are entering the “repentance zodiac”. If it is indeed so, then Moldovan party leaders responded to the call for repentance by releasing on the eve of Easter a raft of party documents targeting the public good.

Social Democratic Party

Last week Social-Democrat’s leaders launched the “Social-Democrat Manifestos”. Social-Democrats reject anti-Communist rhetoric. Their offer includes edifying a state based on the democratic socialism doctrine, thus replacing the “wild capitalism promoted by the previous rulings”. The Manifestos proposes new benchmarks to the society for identifying a “national idea”, other than those put forward by Our Moldova.

Social-democrats question the originality of the programmatic ideas voiced by the two Our Moldova Co-chairs. Their allusion is quite clear — there is no need to invent a “middle way”, it would do for Moldova to step on the Social-Democratic path, which proved to be so successful in Western Europe. Social-democrats believe: a) Ureachean’s idea to turn Moldova into a “Switzerland of the Balkans” was launched long ago in autumn of 2001 by President Voronin Councillors. It is also true that the latter intended to exploit the contradictions between East and West, whereas Urechean insists on capitalising on good ties with both of them; b) the proposition to follow the “middle way” by combining “historic choice of Moldova, i.e. Russia” with the “strategic goal — joining EU” was not new either, it had been also voiced by President Voronin in October 2002 when he called on the CIS integration in EU; c) that we are the hostages of a System we are well-aware for more than 10 years since former President Petru Lucinski published his work “Hostages”; d) we are also familiar with the formula the System operates on, disclosed by the incumbent President Vladimir Voronin back when Communists were in opposition, i.e. money — power -money.

From this perspective Braghis’ contribution towards cataloguing the System resumed to adding that after the 2001 Communists’ landslide victory, the System has been based not only on “money and power”, but also “fear and lies”.

Christian-Democratic Peoples’ Party

Although there is little hope, Christian-Democrats still seek to form a single anticommunist opposition bloc. Nevertheless, last week Christian-Democrats showed that that they were good not only in anticommunist rhetoric, but also in covering a broader spectrum. They believe “modern doctrines stemming from Judaeo-Christian tradition provide an organic view of the man and the world that bring the human being in the centre of society attention, which is spiritually governed by God”. This “humanist concept ascribes a complementing and organic unity to the relationship between man and woman”. To translate those ideas into practice Christian-Democrats decided to “have 50% women and 50% men on its electoral lists that are to be enlisted in a successive order, one after another”.

Would-be “Great Russia”

Several weeks ago Russian language weekly “Kommersant Plus” pledged to become the unifying centre of a new pro-Russian political force. The action is entitled “Great Russia”. Several parties were invited to join, namely Socialist Party, Party of Socialists, “Ravnopravie” Social-political Movement, “Pro-Moldova” public association. In addition, groups not registered with the Ministry of Justice were invited, such as the branch of the National Bolshevik Party of Russia, New Komsomolists, etc. Anti-globalisation is what unites all of them together. Would-be “Great Russia” harshly criticises Moldovan authorities’ relations with EU, USA, and international monetary organisations.

They plead for the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova whose future is staked on tighter integration with the East. They believe western values are not adequate to Moldovan realities, rather they are pseudo-values. Their main target is Communist leaders who revised socialist and communist ideas, as well as strategic partnership with Russia, factors that brought them to power in 2001. Later on, Communists just exploited these ideas to enrich the clan in power and those affiliated to it. In the eyes of Great Russia the greatest “sin” of the ruling party was its refusal to sign the so-called “Kozak Memorandum” on settling Transdnistrian conflict via federalising the country.

One of Great Russia’s pragmatic goals is to steal Communists’ votes, especially those of the Russian speakers. They claim they are able to steal as much as 40% of the Communists’ electorate.

Party of Communists

President Voronin response to the aforesaid was an exclusive interview to the “Misli” (The Thought) magazine (see “Communistul” no. 411) — “The power is not surrendered — the power is conquered”. Indeed, President Voronin knows no rivals in his expertise on the “anatomy of power” in the Republic of Moldova. He insinuated that the Communist Party needs the power in as much as to turn it into “people’s power”. According to the President, the Communist Party program (currently being revised) might be summarised as “Republic, Peoples’ Power, Socialism” was not yet completely enforced. And this because in their three years in power Communists had to build the “power vertical”, essential to transform the state power into “people’s power” by means of soviets.

Still, the President outlined Communists’ achievements during their three years in power, namely: “sovereignty, independence, democratisation of domestic and foreign policy”. He went on wondering what other party could have installed parliamentary regime, thus pulling the country back from the brink of autocratic presidential regime; what other party could have saved the country from the monstrous county administrative system by going back to rayons that bring them closer to the people; and what other party could have launched a raft of measures that gave birth to civil society in our country? The answer is quite obvious.

President Voronin also proposed a mechanism for the “peoples’ power” to function, namely by placing in front of the mayoralties billboards featuring the electoral promises made by the elected officials, just like in Ancient Rome. According to him, should the Communist candidate, Vasile Zgardan, won the local elections, the mayoralty would have definitely boasted such a billboard.

As placing advertising falls within the competence of the mayoralty, Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean, viewed as Communists’ main political foe, might want making a gesture of good will and place a billboard featuring the promises he made throughout his campaign. Similarly to support the transfer of power to the people by means of “power vertical” a billboard featuring the promises made by Communists in elections might be placed in front of the Presidential office. If it happens, then may be political parties would be willing to respond to Braghis’ call to join the forces for the sake of public good, thereby fulfilling electoral promises would be their only source of rivalry. Civil society that was born due to the Communists’ efforts, as President himself likes to boast, could support this initiative as part of the Social Pact, also launched by President Voronin two years ago.

Instead of conclusions

Out of all political parties having a more or less political weight, only Democratic Party and Social-Liberal Party were left out from the competition of ideas for the public good, that prevents us from drawing any sound conclusions. However, it is known for a fact that those parties are negotiating with Our Moldova on establishing an electoral bloc.

Unfortunately, Social-Liberal leaders known as good debaters and experts in diagnosing social vices, were busy dissociating the party from the statements of one of its Deputy Chairs, Nicolae Dabija, who published in “Literatura si arta” (no. 3057) an article “Rusoaicele-2” (Russian women-2). All political parties labelled it as xenophobic. Having said that, it seems the only way to reach a unity in party visions is to negate certain ideas. Unfortunately, Social-Liberal Party, viewed upon its foundation in 2001 as a party of hopes and a sign of renewal of Moldovan political elite, was the one to provide such a sad opportunity to Moldovan political elite.

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