According to the Barometer of Public Opinion (BPO) poll commissioned by the Institute of Public Policy (IPP) before the early parliamentary elections, the state of things is worse in Moldova than before. As much as 67.4 percent of respondents fear that the Republic of Moldova is moving in a wrong direction and only 19.6 percent believe that the things go well. Thus, consequences of the economic crisis, which authorities assured that do not exist, hit the welfare of people.
More than 50 percent of respondents fear that the economic situation in the country is worse than a year ago. Just approximately 15 percent believe that the current economic situation is better than a year ago. At level of personal perception more than 40 percent of respondents fear that their life is worse than a year ago, and only 16 percent say that their life is better. Seventy-two percent of respondents affirm that their household incomes have decreased and 34 percent say that at least someone in their families has become jobless. Approximately 25 percent of respondents say that remittances from their families working abroad have decreased. Therefore, 65 percent of respondents say that they cannot make savings any longer; the same percent is discontent with the economic situation in the country, and only 7.5 percent of respondents are content. The economic situation is worsening because of the global financial crisis. Approximately 55 percent of respondents think that the Republic of Moldova was touched by the global crisis to a large extent, while 35.6 percent consider that it was affected a little.
According to the BPO findings, people in Moldova do not trust in politics and electoral process. Hence, only 28 percent of respondents consider that people’s will does not rule in the Republic of Moldova, while approximately 60 percent do not think so. Only approximately 42 percent of respondents think that elections in Moldova are generally free and fair, while about 46 percent do not think so. This attitude is also confirmed for the April 5, 2009 elections. Following the complexity of circumstances, 47 percent of respondents think that holding early parliamentary elections, on July 29, 2009, was vitally necessary, while 42 percent expressed an absolutely different view.
The BPO findings confirm that the early parliamentary elections are held under the pressure of the April 7 events. Approximately 97 percent of respondents have heard about post-electoral riots, while about 84 percent have an opinion about protests. It is worth noting that approximately 34 percent of respondents think that the April 7 events were peaceful, but redirected. At the same time, 50 percent of respondents think that the protests were a well-prepared attempt aimed at subversion of state power. At the same tie, both the opposition and the ruling party are blamed to an equal extent for what has happened, notably 27 percent each. It means that despite the propagandistic effort and absolute control on the Moldovan media space, the authorities failed to derive the expected benefit from accusing the opposition of coup d’etat attempt.
Despite the April 7 events and further developments, the interest of people towards politics did not change much. However, the percent of those who are interested much and very much in politics has increased.
But this rise is on account of those who are interested neither much, nor little. In general, the percent of those who are interested little and very little in politics is almost constant. In this regard, it is worth noting that the percent of respondents who said they will participate in the July 29 early election is usual — approximately 80 percent.
Given the fact that approximately 1/5 of Moldovan population is abroad, a real turnout of below 50 percent would be recorded for the July 29 elections, but no problem regarding the crossing of the 1/3 election validation threshold should appear, though people are tired after the April 5 elections and early elections take place on summer and not on Sunday as usually. However, the strained situation in society could motivate people to participate in elections very actively. Anyway, the participation in elections is so far the No.1 unknown, carrying the heaviest impact on final results.
The BPO findings reveal that on the eve of the early elections the trust rating of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) is on decline — 40 percent compared with 47 percent in March 2009. There are at least three explanations. First, the welfare of people is seriously touched by the crisis and the PCRM assured that the country it rules is “an island of stability” detoured by the crisis. Second, the PCRM was incapable to ensure the social-political stability it has promised during the campaign for the April 5 election. Third, the PCRM lost a political figure who enjoyed the highest confidence rating, former speaker Marian Lupu, who did not want any longer to stay with a party which decided to keep the interior minister in the governmental team, as the latter did not know to protect the main state buildings and further dedicated himself to “youth hunting.”
In this context, the withdrawal of Marian Lupu and his coming to the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) was expected to improve much the PDM rating from 7 percent in March up to 25 percent in July. The coming of Marian Lupu to PDM was plied on two trends confirmed by latest successful evolutions of the Liberal Party (PL) and Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), which produced a spectacular change on Moldovan political scene by involving some young leaders and competent teams. Making the PDM leadership younger, Marian Lupu succeeded to attract a young and very competent team like that of PLDM.
The trust ratings of liberal parties — PL (25 percent vs. 21 percent in March), PLDM (22 percent vs. 17 percent) and Moldova Noastra Alliance (16 percent vs. 15 percent) have grown or were at the last levels, as before the April 5 elections. The ascending trend is probably due to the so-called moral victory, attributed to liberal parties by the media supporting them, after they did not participate in election of the PCRM candidate to the presidential seat. It is worth mentioning that the three liberal parties announced long before the election campaign for the April 5 elections that they would not vote for a communist candidate to the presidential office because of abuses and harassments faced by the opposition after the PCRM leader has stopped the political partnership in July 2007. Hence, liberal parties kept their promise and their electors appreciated this action.
The same perception was generally projected on trust in leaders of main political parties. The trust in PCRM leader Vladimir Voronin has decreased from 23 percent before the April 5 elections down to 17 percent in July (answer to an open question).
The ratings of PL and PLDM leaders Dorin Chirtoaca and Vlad Filat have easily increased, while the rating of the chairman of Moldova Noastra Alliance (AMN) has easily decreased within the margin of error (±2.6 percent). On the other hand, the rating of the new PDM leader, Marian Lupu, has increased from approximately 7 percent in March up to about 11 percent in July.
It is important that answers to some questions strongly correlate, so that they reveal the conclusion that not more than five parties will enter the new Parliament. As regards the intention to participate in the July 29 elections, approximately 22 percent of respondents are undecided so far, and about 6 percent did not want to answer. Thus, with approximately four months after the April 5 elections the percent of the undecided reaches again the usual margins. As the support of citizens has certain stability on a short-term, on the eve of the July 29 elections one may expect preferences to change under influence of the economic and political crisis related to the April 7 events. It is interesting to note in this context that respondents of the three liberal parties count for approximately 35 percent of overall supporters. This number is very close to the one calculated on the basis of measuring before the April 5 elections, as well as the one established after the proper election. In this respect, one may note that the support to the liberal bloc is constant, while the observed differences are due to changes of preferences on the liberal segment.
On the other hand, one may suppose that the PDM, since it is led by Marian Lupu, attracts the support expressed formerly for so-called centrist parties of social-democratic orientation and some PCRM supporters. In these circumstances, the main race in the last week of campaign will likely involve the electoral segment of the undecided. According to previous surveys, approximately 1/4 of participants in elections decide whom to vote in the last week before the elections.