The key events of the political year 2007 were linked to preparation and conduct of general local elections. The failure of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) at the elections had the following effects: renunciation of the “political partnership for the European integration” between the power and the opposition; antagonising of relations between the central government and the local public administration; ideological revisionism of the ruling party and regrouping of opposition forces; increasing danger of “permanent aggression” against the Republic of Moldova by “the last empire of Europe.” In parallel, there were events with a major impact related to the implementation of the European Union — Moldova Action Plan (EUMAP) and the settlement of the Transnistrian conflict.
The failure of the ruling party and the “aggregated victory” of the opposition at the local elections did not “clear the waters”. On the contrary, they signalled the approaching of a social-politic destabilisation and late developments. The reaction of the ruling party towards the “aggregated victory” of the opposition was to legally reduce the potential of the opposition for the 2009 parliamentary elections by prohibiting holders of multiple citizenships to run public offices, increasing the electoral threshold and prohibiting the pre-electoral blocs. All these are indirect consequences of the June 2007 elections. Two symbolic events also marked the June 2007 general local elections, in particular:
Transnistrian authorities have deliberately protracted more than once the election of the local public administration in the native village of President Vladimir Voronin, Corjova, located in the security zone on the left bank of the Dniester River;
The general local elections did not finish because of repeated incidents in the village of Buteni.
In the first case, it was a provocation against the chief of state, who promised to settle the conflict within a couple of months before becoming president seven years ago. Also, the Corjova elections revealed a new aspect of the role of peacekeepers. On one hand, they could not stop Transnistrian authorities to thwart the elections held by Moldova’s constitutional authorities. On the other hand, the presence of Russian peacekeepers was the main reason of Russian authorities to justify the conduct of actually complete elections for the State Duma in eastern districts of the Republic of Moldova.
The second case is probative. Common residents of a village have constantly and repeatedly confirmed their protesting potential, defeating authorities at least morally.
The official rhetoric continued to insist on the primordial strategic goal — the European integration of the Republic of Moldova. Under a September 13 order by Premier Vasile Tarlev, all actions aimed to accomplish the EUMAP goals should be taken by November 17, 2007. Any fair estimation of efforts of Moldovan authorities would recognise significant progresses in diverse areas, with about 8–9 media holdings and affiliated outlets widely covering the achievements. For this reason, focussing on unresolved problems is especially required in very sensitive areas such as protection of human rights; freedom of the media; independence of the judiciary; anti-corruption fight; favourable investment climate, etc. The state of things in these areas did not progress significantly, but on the contrary, they regressed. The European Commission recommended Moldova at the June 2007 Cooperation Council to redouble its efforts in the areas concerned. The chief of state has acknowledged half a year later, while on a visit to Brussels on December 5–6, 2007 that Moldova is behind in the areas in which it should redouble its efforts.
In consequence, the European Commission recommended on December 5, 2007 the extension of the EUMAP implementation term with one more year. This decision was preceded by traditional calls for intensifying efforts, given the fact that “there are no limits for perfection”; testing the implementation level in the light of reactions of citizens toward effects. But Moldova was encouraged, not blamed. The fact that the implementation of action plans with Ukraine and Israel was also extended with one year places Moldova in a pretty favourable context. The last factor makes irrelevant the reference to November 17, saving probably Premier Tarlev from receiving a “red card” which the chief of state threatened him with a year ago.
However, the call for testing the quality and the implementation level of EUMAP via reaction of citizens strikes a dramatic blow at Moldovan authorities. The invoked Buteni case is the most eloquent example in this respect. In spite of decisions by the constituency law court, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of Justice, voters in Buteni felt like their electoral rights were violated when these law courts annulled the results of elections and ordered repeated elections without participation of their favourite candidate, whom the Moldovan justice has disqualified for abuse of “administrative resources”. The disobedience to judgments by blocking the polling station several times reveals the gravity of the situation. The actions of protestors are formally illegal but they are legitimate indeed:
As regards the Buteni village, the problem of the “right to revolt against inadequate governance” is very practical, rather than linked to political philosophy. It eloquently reveals the perception of citizens regarding the EUMAP implementation level.
The dramatic degradation of relations between central authorities and local public administration in 2007 raises attention. The chief of state has warned immediately after the local elections over an eventual financial-budgetary discrimination of 2/3 of districts where the opposition has won. A reciprocal boycott of election of executive bodies of districts followed the threats. Subsequently the Rezina district council elected in June was dissolved and new elections took place in November. Further decisions by central administration aimed to affect the interests of the local administration, in particular, new subordination of heads of health institutions, initiatives to reduce the financial-material influence of local authorities on municipal police, distribution of budgetary resources for capital investments, reduction of collections to local budgets by annulling the income tax within the “liberal economic reform”, etc. Such actions confirmed the worst expectations that the political dispute between the governance and the opposition will be extended on administrative relations between central and local authorities.
The concentrated expression of relations between central and local authorities is relevant in the light of relations between the central government and the Chisinau City Hall. Mistakes made by the Chisinau City Hall and Municipal Council headed by the leaders of the Liberal Party, Dorin Chirtoaca and Mihai Ghimpu, gave ground to the ruling party for criticism. But the threats of the central government against the municipal administration were followed by attempts of the prosecutor’s office to contest the legality of some orders by mayor, ostentatious disobedience of the municipal police administration, pressures exercised in the tariff dispute, when a Government-administrated enterprise turned off the heating supplies to residential blocks in the capital, etc. The verbal contestation of citizens’ choice by the chief of state and the excess of zeal in contesting the competences of the Chisinau authorities increased the confidence of citizens for the Chisinau City Hall, which tended to equal the rating of the prime minister and speaker by the end of 2007. In this context, two things favouring somehow Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca should be noted: the dispute between the Chisinau City Hall and Government related to the installation and inauguration of the Christmas Tree had symbolic sizes, with international media reporting it as a reaction of the “old” forces" toward manifestations of the “new” forces; the pro-presidential TV channel clearly engaged in libelling the Chisinau mayor and the opposition via an alleged satirical programme reveal indeed the fear of authors and players of this show for their actions, particularly the non-confidence for the perpetuation of governance of those they serve. The non-confidence undermines the moral; this conduct is not only a manifestation of the “courage to assault the opposition,” but also a violation of rights of broadcasting consumers.
A sounding event marked the November 17, 2007 plenary sitting of the PCRM, at which the new draft political programme of the party was released. The chief of state and PCRM leader invited his party fellows and all those interested to participate in debates on this document, which will be approved as an official programme at the 6th Congress on March 15, 2008. Vladimir Voronin emphasised that the new programme will cover the next 30 years.
It is worth to mention that the new draft programme of PCRM is the first document which clearly attests the modernisation plans of the party, though a decision in this respect was made five years and half ago, at the May 2002 plenary sitting. The draft keeps the old name of the party without equivoque, but the ideological essence is empted in a very special manner. On one hand, the programme stipulates the use of the “communist inheritance” while on the other hand it clearly tends to renounce the Marxist-Leninist doctrine of the present programme, which should be the ground on which the socialism and the communism should be built in Moldova. However, the project contains respectful references to classicists of the Marxism-Leninism, condemning only the Stalinist and the Brezhnev-style socialism. By acting this way, the PCRM self-declares “a new leftwing party” for which the “problem of property becomes meaningless,” this being a very important thing that cannot be withdrawn from the context. At the same time PCRM proclaims its new fundamental values, in particular, equal conditions, democratic control, maximum transparency of all decisions, and on the other hand, it condemns the grabby bureaucracy and corruption.
A commentary on these courageous innovations is necessary, but it may be done with some circumstancing. Common PCRM members and all citizens of Moldova hold the right to wonder: why an elementary respect for the Law # 1264-XV from 19.07.2002 concerning declaration and control on incomes and estate of state dignitaries, judges, prosecutors, public functionaries and some heads is not demonstrated before declaring that “the property problem has lost its meaning”? Why the central control commission in charge with reporting data on estate of first-ranking dignitaries in Moldova did not do so in 2007? Why initiatives of 2005 seeking the modification of the electoral legislation in terms to oblige members of families of candidates to public offices to declare their incomes as well have been turned down? Why anti-corruption campaigns take place if it would be better for the citizen control to know the estimation of estates of dignitaries and their families when they are appointed to offices, in order to be sure that their public positions were not sources for a disproportional rise of estate of the persons concerned? Answers to these questions would be a proof of respect for EU standards in line with which the PCRM assures that it has plans to integrate Moldova, and would deprive the PCRM of the need to make ideological concessions, if it insists to keep its name of communist party.
The triumphant tone of the “very dynamical change” during the PCRM governance separated from the note to the draft programme requires a distinct reaction and commentary.
Firstly, the draft does not analyse and estimate the fulfilment of the tasks from the present programme of the party adopted on April 22, 2001, immediately after the absolute electoral victory.
Secondly, the PCRM contribution to development of the Moldovan political system in the past seven years is not without equivoque. It seems that condemning the Stalinism and the Brezhnev-style socialism is not very important after all condemned it 20 years ago. However, the late condemning by the PCRM is explicable. The PCRM was wise and capable to extort a maximum profit from nostalgias of Moldovan citizens for a calm and relatively ensured life in the Soviet times. Resuming the analysis on achievements of the PCRM in the past 7 years of governance, it seems to be incomplete and distortional. The way the PCRM relied on nostalgias was revealed on November 7, 2001, when they wanted to organise a show to imitate the “socialist abundance” by selling food products in exchange for Soviet currency and low prices. But the show was stopped after a quarter of an hour in order to prevent an eventual tragedy because of unimaginable crowds. November 7, 2001 could be symbolically considered the date when the PCRM embraced the idea regarding the need of liberal reforms. Ideological options have also changed as regards problems of maximum principles. The PCRM did not want any longer to ban the private land property, while holding a major constitutional parliamentary control in 2001–05. Only three years before winning the constitutional majority, when it was the opposition, the PCRM garnered half a million signatures of citizens in order to press the 1998–2001 government to organize a referendum in favour of prohibition of private property on land. In this regard, the PCRM has the right to declare the “very dynamical change,” as five years and half only have passed from the November 7, 2001 experiment until April 10, 2007, when President Voronin declared the “liberal revolution”.
It should be mentioned that people in other CIS member states were also very nostalgic for the Soviet times, but Moldova is the only country where the successor of the Soviet Communist Party had won the elections. Thus, the ratings of communist parties from Russia, Ukraine and Moldova were comparable at the limit of the 20th and 21st centuries, but there were three factors of which only one was decisive to make the communists in Moldova win and those in Russia and Ukraine lose: the August 1998 financial collapse in Russia that destroyed the Moldovan economy which just started developing; the constitutional crisis of 2000 linked to the plans of President Lucinschi to introduce a presidential regime; a relatively advanced Moldovan democracy compared with other CIS members, including Russia and Ukraine. The last factor was most decisive. The report by the OSCE Mission is a proof that the PCRM has profited of optimal conditions at the February 2001 elections. For a contrast, Russian political researchers and sociologists are discussing so far the fate of Russia if the Russian communists would have not been restricted their well-deserved victory at the 1996 elections, if there were free and fair elections. The Moldovan semi-parliamentary system has truly treated the PCRM like any other party, while the “verticals of presidential powers” in Russia and Ukraine treated very bitterly the communist parties from these countries, but more clemently than the PCRM treated the opposition parties of Moldova after gaining the power in 2001.
Thirdly, nor the PCRM contribution to stabilisation and development of the Moldovan economy can be univocally treated. It can neither be neglected, nor exaggerated. Firstly, the PCRM succeeded to the power when most painful reforms affected by foreign factors, inexperience and elementary corruption had been already implemented, ensuring the inversion of the fall into an economic growth. When the PCRM succeeded to the power, Moldova was ranked the 2nd place in the shameful top of the poorest countries in Europe, and now, after seven years of governance, it is ranked the 1st place in this anti-top, with the distance from other poor European countries deepening. It is also worth to note that the growth of the GDP and budgetary collections in the past 7 years was directly proportional with the rise of remittances by Moldovans working abroad.
Modernising the Republic of Moldova by building a post-industrial society is the key goal of the new PCRM programme. For this purpose, the PCRM targets at five major tasks: building a social state on basis of a new-principle social class — the “proletariat of knowledge”; creating a favourable business climate to affirm an open and innovating economy; introducing a “gradual democracy’; enhancing the competitiveness of the state; adopting fundamental principles of security, permanent neutrality and territorial integrity of Moldova.
These goals challenged diverse reactions. As expected, the opposition media was sarcastic towards these goals and project in general. On the contrary, the PCRM-affiliated media is not tired to eulogise, citing assessments by known domestic and foreign scientists. In this situation, the fairest approach is to monitor the reactions of PCRM members who have been always used to a clear formulation of goals. Thus, they wonder in the “Comunistul” newspaper what the party wants to build on basis of the new programme. They also try to answer: the communism — no; the capitalism — no; the Soviet socialism — no; the Chinese socialism — no, as Europe will not understand us. Then what? An original proposal was to build the noocracy — a society ruled by the force of the reason — as a final goal. Thus, reactions to the draft programme develop the intensity of the challenge faced by the PCRM. In this respect, the draft underlined that “the Republic of Moldova does not have the right any longer to be like all others. To be like all others means for us to perish, not to be behind forever. In a certain meaning, the Republic of Moldova must be the best country among all countries for its citizens.”
Altogether, these examples reveal the curious pretension to theoretically contribute to development of world doctrines. In addition, the draft PCRM programme introduces new notions such as “proletariat of knowledge” and “gradual democracy”. The first innovation is borrowed from modern leftist currents, distorting the “intellectual proletariat” notion affirmed in modern languages or, to be understandable to everybody, “salaried intellectuals”. In all likelihood, the “proletariat of knowledge” was necessary in the new PCRM programme in order to keep a relation with the classic proletariat notion. It is important that the proletariat is always exploited in the Marxist tradition, being obliged to sell its labour force. Perhaps the “proletariat of knowledge” sells its skills and the PCRM wants to propose its services of protecting interests. This comes after the “proletariat of knowledge” in Moldova chose to turn into the “proletariat of workers” and massively quit the country in order to work abroad. In this context, PCRM leaders should answer a general question — what the notion of proletariat of knowledge or workers is good for if the “property problem loses its meaning” for the PCRM? The proletariat problem exists as long as the private property issue is not settled.
In what concern the notion of “gradual democracy” it should be mentioned that Russian liberals spread it in the early 1990s, when they tried to explain and justify the imperfection of the regime of President Boris Yeltsin. One can say that the “gradual democracy” notion could be probably ranked besides the “sovereign democracy” notion in a value top.
Innovations from the new draft programme of the PCRM are giving birth to problems for sure. Thus, PCRM parliamentarian Gheorghe Mustata has delivered a statement on maintenance of the party and parliamentary faction. Accordingly to the statement, it is very hard to discuss with common people who are waiting for explanations regarding serious discrepancies between promises made in 2001 and policy promoted by the ruling party; the new draft programme of the PCRM contains provisions which are absolutely incompatible with Marxism-based communist ideas. It is for the first time in the past years when a PCRM member withdraws from the party on ideological reasons.
Although they are generally disorganised and confused, a fact confirmed at the new elections in Rezina, opposition forces produced a series of events worthy of attention in 2007. In particular, the conduct of new political leaders capable to create new trends has raised interest.
The Liberal Party (LP) produced the greatest political sensation in 2007. The aggregated victory of the opposition at the 2007 local elections and the rapid erosion of the PCRM did not impress as much as the victory of LP deputy chairman Dorin Chirtoaca in the race for the Chisinau City Hall did. In spite of many signs of inexperience, absence of an own managerial team, serious mistakes in cooperation with political partners and planning of the work of the City Hall, etc., surveys revealed a very strong growth of confidence toward Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, in particular, in urban areas. His courage against frontal and absolutely disproportional assaults of the central government is the only explanation. Some things should be made clear here. Normally, the relationship between the Chisinau City Hall and the Government should be preponderantly administrative and regulated by legal competences after the local elections. The fact that these relations endanger the interests of citizens to benefit from normal services is a proof that the ties have been politicised over the reasonable limit or common sense. A proverb says that the wisest must give up in a conflict that endangers the public good. If this is the truth, the claim of the PCRM to build the noocracy (society ruled by the force of the reason) in Moldova is impossible. In all likelihood, both the LP and the PCRM will suffer after the conflict. Alarming signals for the LP have been already observed at the new elections in Rezina, where the party has lost more than half of its few supporters. Also, the LP has lost its strongest territorial branch in Cantemir. The intransigency of the LP may be useful to the opposition in general. If the conflict between the Chisinau City Hall and Government becomes intolerable for residents of the capital, they will have the closest opportunity to get rid of this bad situation after a year and half at the March 2009 parliamentary elections, giving a blame vote to the acting ruling party, of course in the proportion that the capital has at parliamentary elections. It would be strange if common citizens accept to suffer another three years and half until debarkation of the LP from the City Hall leadership. An eventual blame vote given to the PCRM in order to rescue the capital in 2009 from permanent conflicts would not necessarily mean support for the LP. Electors may also support another force — calm, competent and promising. In this perspective, the alternative for Dorin Chirtoaca is either to become a symbol and achiever of the “change” announced by his June 2007 victory, or to have the status of a “precursor” who came to announce and prepare the “change” that somebody else will make. Anyway, invulnerability towards the “strategic weapon” of the main opponent — “fabrication of cases” — is the main “secret arm” of Dorin Chirtoaca which fuels his courage.
The Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (LDPM) has marked the most spectacular joining to the political life in Moldova in 2007. The impression is constant, no matter what explanations the LDPM leaders give: the LDPM pledges to do what it should to do, but what LP has not done since 2005 until now — to try at least the partial unification of liberal political forces. The great electoral result of LP deputy chairman Dorin Chrtoaca at successive municipal elections in 2005 converted into final victory at the 2007 ordinary elections made Chirtoaca the most indicated person to lead the liberal segment. At present, Chirtoaca is reproached different ways that in spite of his electoral performances he could not become at least the LP leader, not even a unifying leader of other liberals, whom he has antagonised during the electoral campaign instead of consolidating them, facing later the effects of this conduct in the Municipal Council. However, the trend created by Chirtoaca could not be left aside. Parliamentarian Vlad Filat “mounted” it with an extraordinary dexterity, demonstrating his skills of active and competent political leader in 2005 — 2007. The activity of Filat was fulminating in 2007: participation in the mayoral elections in Chisinau with the most expressive and professional campaign, achieving a pretty modest but promising result; call on Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca to support him in order to succeed to the post of Municipal Council chairman and form a powerful tandem, but he was refused by the mayor; withdrawal from the Democratic Party, in which he ran a leading office and was credited with perspectives to take over the party leadership in a predictable future; launching of own political project in September, with building the LDPM being one of stages; organisation on December 8 of the constitution congress of the party, which completed the building of territorial branches in all administrative territorial units including by attracting approximately 100 mayors and 50 district councillors in LDPM. If data on number of mayors and councillors are true, the LDPM joins the Top-5 Moldovan parties without participating in elections. For comparison, the 12 mayors and LP 22 district/municipal councillors of LP were elected at local elections, and some of them have already joined the LDPM. In these circumstances, the LDPM may claim pulling out the flag of the liberal “change” from the hand of LP, and this perfectly fits the logic of the political competition. Certain private newspapers and TV channels have actively promoted the image and slogans of LDPM: a relatively young leader (37 years old), active, very competent and prosperous; a nucleus of the party made of persons corresponding to the leader; a very promising start which will attract new adherents. On the other hand, a number of leaders of the political party and the media affiliated to them have criticised very bitterly Vlad Filat, invoking a series of facts that cannot be neglected: the incoherent explanation of reasons why he withdrew from the DP shortly after his announcement that his project is exclusively linked to this party; the statement that the new project targets at uninvolved citizens, but the approximately 100 mayors and 50 councillors converted to join the LDPM have been involved into about 5–6 parties; the banal “bribing” of leaders of territorial branches of the Democratic Party, Social Liberal Party, National Liberal Party, Liberal Party, Republican Party, and attempt on branches of the Christian Democratic People’s Party. Thus, the unification of forces was done in a very special manner over the liberal segment, through a “shock therapy” on leaders of the parties deprived of a series of branches. Perhaps the shortage of time was the main reason. Making abstraction of the truth of accusations against Filat, the LDPM has created a trend which is fully developing. The moral side of the things will be revealed at the 2009 parliamentary elections. If the party marks a good result, it will be clear that the party consolidated on basis of the intelligent “mounting” of the trend of “change” developed by “precursor” Dorin Chirtoaca, rather than on the “conversion through bribing”. If the party fails, all accusations will be treated as demonstrated ab initio, with all afferent consequences.
The People’s Action Movement (PAM) demonstrated the most original conduct in 2007. Its spiritual leader Sergiu Mocanu knew to capture the attention of the media on his political project. Being a controversial personality who knows to assert himself, he distinguished himself through an extravagant language absolutely justified for attracting youths who created an absolute majority at the December 22, 2007 constitution congress, with their representatives being elected to key leading offices. In this respect, there was a contraposition towards other political parties expressed very inspired: “all parties have young wings and the PAM alone will have a wing of retirees.” The stake of the PAM on youths made some suspicious observers compare the party spiritual leader who was presidential advisor with “special missions” in 2003–07 with Vasilii Yakemenko, spiritual leader of a well-known Russian movement “Ours”. The comparison hints at Yakimenko’s pro-presidential movement and at the eventual “special mission” of PAM which claims to be against President Voronin. The stake on the maximum contrast with other parties is also outlined in the strategic goal of PAM — to separate the Transnistrian problem from the European integration of Moldova and its further recovery from the perspective to obtain the EU membership. The clear expression of what many pro-European parties only think about may be interpreted as a courageous action, but not a manifestation of realism. Anyway, the PAM distinguishes from other parties. Playing paradoxes is also observed in choosing the logos of the party — the apple, which is the symbol of the sin and temptation in the Christian tradition. However, the courage of the PAM spiritual leader is not overflowing, though it defied somehow the new law on parties that the Parliament adopted on December 21, 2007, only one day before the PAM constitution congress. Unlike the old law, the new law does not cover the social-political movements, but only parties. But the spiritual leader insisted on identity of social-political movements, so that the Ministry of Justice will accept this fact while registering political groups. However, it seems that renouncing the “party” and choosing the “social-political movement” is banal — a fear of the acronym for the “People’s Action Party” (PAP). In fact, youths would appreciate how cool is the suggestion to eat the luring apple in order to discover the “good and the evil”. It would be cooler if a “nibbled apple” was chosen as a symbol, but if so, there would be the danger of very subtle equivocal interpretations.
The Transnistrian problem was not settled in 2007, too. This does not surprise anybody. In spite of intense talks in February-May regarding the “package initiatives” by President Voronin held with the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, Yuri Zubakov, followed by October initiatives, the state of things is still vague both in terms of an eventual resumption of the “Five-Plus-Two” negotiations, and particularly of a final resolution of the conflict. Summits, general assemblies and any other meetings of the OSCE, United Nations and other international organisations which debated the Transnistrian problem failed to unthaw the “frozen conflict”.
Besides the initiatives concerned, Moldovan authorities have tried to launch practical actions, which separatist leaders described as attempts to press Tiraspol. In particular, Chisinau decided to control the import besides the export of the Transnistrian region and announced plans to ban vehicles with Transnistrian number plates to cross the Moldovan borders starting January 1, 2008 and to cross the right bank of the Dniester River starting January 1, 2009. In both cases the Moldovan authorities had to give up their plans. It is hard to imagine what would produce a worse impression than repeatedly announcing plans and cancelling them later. This conduct reveals the incapacity of planning and calculating eventual reactions.
Year 2007, which was very difficult for separatist leaders and residents of Transnistria, ends somehow optimistically for them, as Russia has reconfirmed its complete domination on the region under all aspects, holding elections for the State Duma in the secessionist republic like in own territory and resuming the financial support for the separatist regime.
Moldovan authorities keep being optimistic, expressing hope that Transnistrian leaders would agree to discuss “the implementation of the October initiatives by President Voronin,” especially after the chief of state told a December 19, 2007 news conference that “the problem is already resolved in the mind of all main participating players in moral-psychological terms.” Indeed, the problem was resolved ‘in the mind” 10 years ago, on May 7, 1997, when the famous “Primakov Memorandum” was signed, stipulating the equality of the conflicting sides, facts that Transnistria and Russian Federation seek consistently without any deviations. The memorandum concerned was also signed under the pressure of the PCRM, in particular, of its leader Vladimir Voronin.
Year 2007 confirmed the axiomatic truth that the foreign policy is a projection of the interior policy. In this regard, the PCRM was unable to work out and adopt new foreign and security policy concepts to meet the challenges of the time even in the seventh year of rule. It seems that challenges are very pressing, as they made the PCRM work out a new programme, forgetting to honour the provisions of the effective programme. The lack of clear concepts had a practical impact on Moldova’s relations with strategic neighbours and partners.
The Moldovan authorities assure that the relations with the Russian Federation became excellent in 2007, though this country ignored the note of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration concerning conduct of elections for the State Duma in Moldova’s eastern districts. Relations with Ukraine have been also described as perfect, though no progress in settling pressing and painful problems in bilateral relations, in particular related to the Dnestrovsk hydro-station, Giurgiulesti port, Moldovan properties in this country, etc., was observed in 2007. In general, the use of superlatives to describe the relations with Russia and Ukraine when the most painful problem — the Transnistrian separatism — persists for 17 years because of the support of these states looks like substitution of realities with what is wanted. Tough, the normal development of Moldova depends on willingness of these countries for sure and it should be interested to develop good relations with them.
Instead, relations with Romania, the EU border with Moldova, have degenerated dramatically. Of course, the rhetoric of Romanian authorities is not faultless, but enhancing the tensions by Moldovan officials who accuse of “imperialism” and “permanent aggression” complicates the state of things and destabilises the internal situation by polarising the attitude of citizens, a fact which is deliberately targeted for electoral reasons. In this regard, Romania is a subject which can be easily assaulted because it cannot afford a response like Russia has recently do, in particular, it replied “asymmetrically and adequately” with the embargo to the “economic blockade on Transnistria”, or Ukraine, which started renovating bridges linking Moldova with the CIS when the traffic on the Transnistrian railway was blocked (the former minister of Ukraine, Boris Tarasyuk, has explained the way this decision was made). Relations between Moldova and Romania are privileged at least from this point of view. Even more, Romania’s NATO and EU membership allows Moldovan authorities to look for supreme arbiters in bilateral relations. In this respect, President Voronin has recently stated that the “Moldovan-Romanian file is being studied by the European Union, this already being the problem of relations between Romania and EU, rather than of relations between Moldova and Romania.”
Now let’s assume that the EU proceeds to the examination of the “file” which is a priority on the agenda for thousands of times. What concrete and incontestable facts will be available to arbitrate: a) starting 2002, Romania practically does not award any longer its much demanded citizenship to Moldovan residents; b) in 2007 Romania introduced a visa regime, which has become a nightmare for all Moldovan citizens, inclusively because Moldovan authorities oppose the opening of new consulates; c) Moldova insists on the problem of the two treaties, but this is an issue related to bilateral relations, in particular, because Moldova turned down the draft treaty initialled by foreign ministers of the two countries in 2000, saying that it does not want “privileged relations”; d) there are religious problems but clerics must remedy them, etc. Under these conditions, it is not hard to guess an eventual recommending resolution by EU institutions — finding a compromise in the European spirit which would be accepted by both sides. But what else representatives of the two parties could discuss? Is this the interminable problem of linguistic and ethnic identity? In this respect one can mention that even certain representatives of the PCRM elite answer these questions in an original manner: "Yes, we are Romanians by origin and language. But we are Moldovans by mentality and, the main, by self-identification, and one may accuse us of idiocy and of having forgotten the “spirit of Romanianism.” Some forget, others not, it’s up to them. Or maybe the espionage-related scandal which occurred just during parliamentary debates on ban of the dual citizenship? But revelations stopped after the release of open online data, a fact which turns the scandal into a simple occasion to justify the ban of the multiple citizenship, etc. After all developments in 2007, authorities from both banks of the Proute River will be incapable to reach a compromise. Hence, Moldovan citizens will have to wait for new governments in order to see the situation normalising.
The idea of certain media outlets to resolve all delicate problems at a referendum is not bad. But those raising such proposals should wonder why referendums of this kind have not been held until now? The answer could be very simple — the risk of opening the “Pandora box” persists, as there are always diverse groups which have something to say. Firstly, referendums may repeat after at least two years, of course, if those interested collect 200,000 signatures. Secondly, the pro and against propaganda on issues of the referendums must be allowed on an equal basis, but this creates an occasion for the unification of some dispersed forces and nightmare of those apparently consolidated. Thirdly, options of citizens may dramatically change depending on social-economic, political and other developments. For this reason, some may recalls what they thought they forgot. The new draft PCRM programme is a cogent example how fast the options may change in the “globalisation period”: members of this party wanted to build the socialism and communism on basis of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine five years ago, but now they want to build the noocracy. In this regard, if Romanian authorities leave aside the rhetoric and use Romania’s potential, enjoying the potential advantages as an EU member, it is unknown so far how inspired the referendum idea would seem to its promoters after 10 years. It seems that Moldova did not hold referendums on very subtle issues in general, because the fear persists: some fear that the issue did not develop yet, others worry that the developing process may turn into an unwanted trend.
In spite of the quasi-unanimous perception of 2008 as a pre-electoral year, it will be indeed a hyper-electoral year, at least in the 1st trimester:
The merger of the Social Liberal Party and the Democratic Party is scheduled for February 2008. The consolidation of the Democratic Party will be a compensating reply to losses suffered by the party after the withdrawal of Vlad Filat and the havoc that the latter has done in the territorial branches of the DP. In all likelihood, the consolidated Democratic Party and Social Democratic Party will become the redoubtable electoral rivals of the PCRM on the centre-left segment. A series of pro-Russia political forces and media outlets will do their best to inoculate the idea that the adoption of the new political programme by the PCRM at the March 15, 2008 6th congress is nothing but renunciation of the communist idea. Under these conditions, the PCRM area in the leftwing may narrow down in favour of socialist parties. The PCRM will confront the consolidated DP and SDP on the centre-left segment. DP and SDP leaders enjoy the advantage of being immune to the sterilisation operated through elimination of holders of the dual citizenship from the race.
The PCRM could face new problems such as those mentioned above before and after the 6th congress. The adoption of the new programme announcing that the “property problem has lost its meaning” may shock many devoted members. Allegations launched by some media outlets and amplified by interpretations of certain parliamentarians regarding eventual great property gathered by families of the PCRM elite in the past years could be tolerated as long as there was the hope that after eight years of rule the last presidential decree could envisage the nationalisation of the estates concerned, laying down the ground of a peaceful, non-violent building of socialism and communism on basis of the Marxist-Leninist doctrine, accordingly to the effective programme and statute of the party. This would be a truly valuable practical contribution to the Marxism-Leninism treasury. A propos, an eventual presidential decree on nationalisation of properties of families of the PCRM elite could also give a great impulse to the party rating before the 2009 parliamentary elections.
Political confrontations will reach the peak in the second half of 2008, but there will unlikely be an interest for a dangerous destabilisation of political situation. In all likelihood, the PCRM will focus on patriotism, celebration of the 650th anniversary of the Moldovan state, protection of traditions, pleading for “authentic state symbols”, etc. On the other hand, the opposition of all colours and its leaders will be mainly concerned with finding possibilities for jumping over the new barriers linked to the ban of pre-electoral blocs, increased electoral threshold, renunciation or hiding of a foreign citizenship. But making the totals of eight years of PCRM governance and contestation of the ruling party by the opposition will probably attract electors the most.
In spite of political confrontations between parties, their leaders will focus again on the constitutional norm on dissolution of the Parliament in order to obstruct the election of the chief of state. Any initiative aimed to eliminate this provision is unlike. Therefore, political confrontations will be marked by the need of avoiding the “burning of bridges” in order to keep the further possibility of negotiating eventual ruling coalitions, which shall be made of a qualified majority of 3/5, not of a simple majority, accordingly to the constitutional norm concerned.