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Three “C” for restoring AEI

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Igor Botan / December 17, 2010
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Efforts to overcome the syndrome of boycott democracy

After three weeks from the parliamentary elections it remains unclear what kind of coalition the Republic of Moldova will have and for how long. Election results and statements of political leaders make possible only two coalition options. Although the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), equipped with 15 MP mandates, sees for the second time in just a year and a half its dream come true of being in a position to decide what kind of coalition — centre-left or centre-right — will rule in the Republic of Moldova, it hesitates to make the decision. It is an indicator that this is not a trivial decision. The possible centre-left duumvirate with the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) — 42 seats, as well as the centre-right triumvirate with the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) — 32 seats, and the Liberal Party (PL) — 12 seats, involve major advantages and risks for PDM. Each of the two possible coalitions is somewhat comfortable in terms of the governing majority — 57 vs. 59, compared with 51 seats that is simple majority. However, none of the two coalitions will have enough seats to elect the head of state by a qualified majority of at least 3/5 (61 mandates) and to overcome the institutional crisis. This justifies the PDM’ dialogue on both dimensions — left and right, and shows that the party follows two purposes:

Broadly, the PDM’ stake is to overcome the syndrome of the boycott democracy, from which Moldova has suffered over the last ten years and is an expression of political polarization and division of Moldovan society. Thus, since 2000, out of eight attempts to elect a president with at least 3/5 (61 seats) of the MP votes, six have failed because of boycotts organized by the opposition. The attempt in 2001 was a success, just because PCRM had 71 seats, and the one in 2005 — due to the betrayal of April 4, 2005, when part of the opposition, including the PDM faction, got involved in unblocking the presidential elections. The next parliamentary elections, both treacherous parliamentary parties were sanctioned by their voters. Now the situation is likely to repeat, oscillating between the boycott and betrayal.

PDM, unlike the three other parliamentary parties, has not ever participated in a boycott, but it was and is likely to be eventually accused of treason, or of overly high ambitions, which justifies the party negotiations on both dimensions. Therefore the ability of PDM to address the problem of breaking the vicious circle is problematic without resorting to obscure or risky methods. Both the PCRM leaders, on the one hand, as well as those of PLDM and PL, on the other hand, have hinted they could again resort to a boycott in similar circumstances as in the past. That is why, anyway, at first the ruling majority coalition shall be created, and then solutions for the presidential elections shall be found.

Between hammer and anvil or between the sickle and hammer?

Leaders of the four political parties did not expose in a synthetic manner the offers and conditions based on which they would agree to form coalition with prospective partners. However, following discussions with potential partners, they have made a series of statements. From these statements one may reveal that there are three large blocks of issues related to:

Axiological rhetoric, although very important one, does not impress anyone anymore. A basic review of programmatic documents shows, for example, that PDM, as a party that shares the social-democratic doctrine, in particular, a third way centrism (Blair-Clinton-Schroder), can find common ground with PCRM, as well as with PLDM and PL. Therefore, in discussions and negotiations the other two blocks of issues — governance mechanisms and the projection of foreign policy vectors — are more important. From their perspective it is worth examining the advantages and disadvantages of the PDM in case of establishing those two types of alliances. However, anticipating the things, one can say that in the event of creating a centre-right coalition the PDM will get between the hammer and anvil, and in case of creating a centre-left coalition — between the sickle and hammer.

Centre-Right Coalition

In terms of principles and values, restoring the Alliance for European Integration (AEI) by PDM, PLDM and PL seems, at first sight, preferable to the Alliance for Moldova (AM), proposed to PDM by PCRM. Indeed, PDM has been for more than a year part of AEI and there were no axiological problems. In exchange, there were severe problems of communication and unfair competition between allies. Yet, the last factor was due to the provisional nature of AEI governance, i.e. the imminence of early parliamentary elections, which made the allies to be competitors. Consequently, each party within the AEI, as well as outside of it, has strived to achieve its own interest. Even if it was so, it would be an exaggeration to believe that: the famous decrees of the interim President, Mihai Ghimpu, PL leader; involving the responsibility of Prime Minister Vlad Filat, PLDM leader, to support disadvantaged strata of the population, or the enigmatic anti-mafia campaign, directed against PDM and its leader, Marian Lupu etc. — would have had an adverse decisive effect on allies’ electoral score. All things that have poisoned the relations between the allies have occurred in June-September 2010, but the trends, reconfirmed by final election results, were already very clearly profiled in May. This is confirmed by the Public Opinion Barometer (BOP) regarding the rating of trust in political leaders.

What political personality do you trust in?

The citizens’ voting intentions were also strongly correlated with the development of trust in leaders.

If elections to the Moldovan Parliament were held next Sunday, what party would you vote?

Thus, there were also some other factors, perhaps more important, but less noticeable ones, to explain the rise of PLDM, on the one hand, and stagnation of PDM and the fall of moderate PL, on the other side. The explanation is more about Moldovan electorate’s structure and political culture, things that fundamentally determine the electoral behaviour of citizens. In this sense, the electoral behaviour is more influenced by the general performance of political stakeholders, rather than by scandals that accompany them.

Thus, the issue of possible operational mechanisms of renewed AEI has become extremely important. For the time being, three principles can be identified — “3C” formula (three (vitamins) “C”) to recover the AIE:

PLDM leaders have also proposed the distribution formula of the three supreme state positions on the principle — a position to every party. However, the distribution of governmental positions is still an extremely difficult problem. Approaches of potential partners vary within a very wide range: from the formula originally proposed by PLDM, of proportional distribution of positions in accordance with the share of seats, up to egalitarian formula proposed by PL. Therefore, things remain suspended, and the compromise version is being sought in the limits of good sense, i.e. the distribution of governmental positions shall be under the general principle — neither proportional nor equal. There are very large variations, and therefore developing a final algorithm will still take long.

Since PL and PDM consensually insist that in politics one plus one does not make two, the more so it is unclear how the arithmetic rules function in business. In this respect, it seems that the most difficult problem is precisely about the interests of business structures behind the political entities. It is believed that they have most pronounced interest towards the distribution of positions in central specialized institutions and bodies with a major impact on economic interests — the Customs Department, the Centre for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption (CCCEC), General Prosecutor Office, Intelligence and Security Service (SIS) etc. It is considered that a fair distribution would be necessary among potential partners of management positions of these institutions, possibly to counter the abuses and for mutual control. It is precisely this small stump is likely to overturn the AEI cart.

Finally, the set of issues related to foreign policy of the country, although creates some complications, can be resolved relatively quickly by potential allies. You see, the foreign policy in 2010 was a successful one. This brought about great image advantages to PLDM, which controlled the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MFAEI), nothing comparable to the advantages generated by actions disputed within AEI. Relations with the EU had a strong personal component, achieved through and due to capacities and relations of Minister Iurie Leanca, as well as due to performances of the main negotiators within the MFAEI. Consequently, in 2010, Moldova has avoided economic collapse, maintaining afloat, largely due to the EU financial support. Developing the formula “Moldova — a success story within the Eastern Partnership” was an excellent trove, which greatly motivated the benevolent attitude of the EU bodies and some member states towards the Republic of Moldova. However, apart from substantial financial support, there has also been a rapid journey in launching and negotiating the EU-Moldova Association Agreement. It is precisely these considerations that make the continuity principle become one of the cornerstones of the renewable AEI.

PDM had an important role in promoting foreign policy, even the formula “Republic of Moldova — a success story within the Eastern Partnership”, originally came through this entity. However, proceeding from the considerations related to the PDM’ electorate views, it has the interest to insist on the principle of balance in foreign relations, at least to avoid antagonizing the Russian Federation, and, if possible, even to fill these relationships with real content in the so-called strategic partnership, stipulated by basic treaty with this country. It is a matter of principle for PDM that the renewed AEI to reconfirm some things expressly stipulated by the country’s Constitution, legislation and international instruments to which Moldova is a party, such as the sovereignty, neutrality and the strategic partnership with Russia. Also, it is necessary for PDM that alliance partners should abandon the rhetoric about certain purposes for which the Republic of Moldova is not ready anyway and cannot accomplish them.

Centre-Left Coalition

The scheme of establishing the centre-right alliance is also perfectly applicable to the centre-left one. In fact, PDM and PCRM announced with some regularity that they have advanced much in discussions and that they reached the stage of negotiations on a new organization of the Government. This would mean that the problem of values and principles has long been settled, although the Electoral Manifesto of PDM expressly provides that “The communist past should not determine the future of Moldova”. Furthermore, PDM announced that PCRM is extremely generous in distributing the positions. It might be attractive for PDM that distribution of positions between two partners is much easier and profitable than the distribution between three partners. Finally, PDM might feel more comfortable in an alliance with the PCRM, but only at the beginning. Later, however, PDM is likely to have big troubles in relationship with the PCRM, regretting the formation of centre-left alliance.

First, although the PDM had strained relations with the AIE partners, at least it knows them and knows how to behave with them, while a possible coalition with the PCRM is a challenge with many unknowns. PDM knows very well how PCRM behaved as the dominant party:

Secondly, PDM has to answer another series of questions:

Thirdly, PDM must see may be it is more convenient to develop its own mythology, which would put the party in a positive light and by contrast would show that from the doctrinal and moral point of view it is superior to PCRM. Thus:

Fourthly, external relations of the Republic of Moldova, in case of the PDM-PCRM partnership, most likely will stagnate:

The final decision on the balance tilting to left or right belongs to PDM, but in any case it would be more convenient for PCRM to refrain from resorting to boycott any more, because during possible early elections it could fall dramatically.

Elections of the Governor of Gagauzia Political year 2010