Accomplishments of AIE in first half of 2011
The end of the spring-summer parliamentary session was an occasion to summarize the work of the Alliance for European Integration (AIE). Representatives of two AIE member parties — Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) and Liberal Party (PL) — avoided telling the public opinion any achievement of the ruling alliance. Only the leader of the parliamentary faction representing the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), Valeriu Strelet, gathered journalists to inform them: “During the spring-summer parliamentary session the PLDM faction focussed on earlier set objectives exclusively, notably turning the Republic of Moldova into a really free, democratic, European and wealthy state… PLDM tabled 28 legislative initiatives during the parliamentary session, of which 6 were adopted, another 21 are being worked out, one was withdrawn and another one was turned down. As well, PLDM deputies along with AIE fellows tabled 12 legislative initiatives, of which 8 were adopted.”
That’s what AIE has accomplished in a move to change to the end and accomplish welfare, respect and progress in a poverty-free Moldova. In the framework of this result, the prime minister and PLDM leader, Vlad Filat, noted: “Unfortunately, a series of important draft laws tabled by Government were aimless in eyes of the Parliament. This regrettable situation will produce direct consequences inclusively in terms of budget collections, as well as of pace of this reform process.” The premier has earlier feared that “there is no progress” and he told this truth just two months after US Vice President Joseph Biden and Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk visited Chisinau upon his invitation, with the purpose to assure themselves of the “success story” of reforms in Moldova. The first even promised “I’ll be back!” to enjoy the results of success together with Moldovan population, while the latter anticipated the eventual consolidation of success after the takeover of the EU Council Presidency by Poland and support to European approaches of Moldovan authorities.
After ascertaining that “things do not work”, the premier invited the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Mrs. Catherine Ashton, and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy to visit Moldova and assure themselves that in fact the “success story” turned into the “Ukrainian syndrome” and a “European mandate” is required to rescue the situation. Then proper rescue measures were explained but they were postponed till autumn: “Actions to be taken by the prime minister, the Reform Committee, and the Economic Council will be introduced into agenda on autumn. As for example, staff reshuffles in the cabinet of ministers.”
Who is to blame?
In order to make the “European mandate” aimed to redress the situation bend over sovereignty of people, Premier Vlad Filat opened what he promised to be “periodical” consultations with citizens, civil society, academia, businessmen, opposition etc., and the first round of talks ended with the July 12 Appeal by prime minister to population. The message explains why “things do not work”:
- There is a big difference between the way the prime minister and some AIE members understand the role of AIE;
- Political pressures on Government and prime minister have increased when they started fighting against fraudulent schemes in state enterprises;
- The Government does not face the communist political opposition but the resistance of AIE member parties PDM and PL, which are angry with the results of PLDM at parliamentary and local elections, with the two components focussing on barring the work of the premier by passing all decisions through diverse party filters, depending on the interest of one or another politician;
- The true danger is related to the “mafiotisation” of the Republic of Moldova, rather than to an eventual “communisation” of the country.
In fact, the consultations held by Premier Vlad Filat explained in an acceptable manner what he has earlier explained clearly but scandalously — the existence and functionality of AIE are threatened by a malefic “jigger” who blocks the reforms and actions of the Government by pulling wires to animate his “marionettes” from higher levels of state institutions and juridical system. Although it was clear from the very beginning who this character is, the premier had the duty and the exclusive advantage to make public the name of the one who captured Moldova in “tentacles”. Journalists succeeded and the name of the “jigger” was pronounced — the deputy chairman of PDM, Deputy Speaker Vladimir Plahotniuc. In order to demonstrate his decision to get off tentacles and unlock the activity of his cabinet, the premier sent the following message to those who try to oppose his initiatives: “I am ready to fight with them till the end even at the cost of my image.”
What to do?
According to the premier, the situation will be relieved only after some actions, including:
- To actuate the development of reform process and fight against corruption;
- To make state institutions functional, so that not to reset them every time when ruling parties change, and make them serve the needs of population rather than interest groups;
- To assess the work of the cabinet of ministers and independent public institutions, and operate staff reshuffles;
- Every AIE member party including PLDM shall assess the work of heads of institutions they have nominated, and then discuss these assessments and make appropriate decisions;
- To adopt a law on ministerial responsibility, so that “each member of the cabinet of ministers to carry responsibility for this activity”;
- To modify the law concerning the Government, so that to remove provisions on Government’s Presidium which proved to be a bureaucratic and useless instrument;
- To reintroduce the precedent decision-making formula for the Government, so that to let a simple majority of cabinet members who attend sittings to make decisions;
- To depoliticise law institutions — the judiciary, Prosecutor-General’s Office, Information and Security Service (SIS), Interior Ministry, and Centre for the Combat of Economic Crimes and Corruption, with the purpose to break up the vicious circle of a corrupt system following the excessive politicisation: nomination of heads under political criteria and own interests;
- To ensure political stability by overcoming effects of constitutional crisis.
In fact, ensuring political stability is the apogee of the Premier’s Appeal to citizens, which stresses that “political instability slows down the reforms, foreign investments and hits the external image of our country”; therefore, this problem “is of utmost importance.” Stressing the goal of ensuring political stability by overcoming the constitutional crisis, the PLDM leader promised to do his best against new early elections, inviting all political parties to resume the dialogue on election of chief of state, but acknowledging that one of worst mistakes committed by AIE was to cease the talks with the opposition. However, following is needed to prevent early parliamentary elections:
- To combat the personalisation of functions, which is to blame for the impossibility to elect the chief of state;
- To combat the egoism in terms of national interests that should not be sacrificed for vanity of somebody.
Anticipating criticism related to plans to revise the December 2010 AIE Constituting Agreement, the premier noted that he will not break up the alliance, and his proposals “cannot be regarded as a reformation of AIE, a term which seems to be used often by certain politicians on any occasion. This is in fact a functional resetting of the alliance, an absolutely necessary method to ensure stability in country and efficiency of the ruling act.” The proposals concerned seek two approaches:
- All parliamentary parties shall find a consensus-based candidacy for the post of president of Moldova after a constructive dialogue;
- All parliamentary factions shall amend the Constitution with the purpose to reintroduce the procedure of election of chief of state by population.
Thus, the launching of the procedure of election of chief of state is a bifurcation point, which once crossed, will seal the existence of AIE. In other terms, PLDM says that provisions of the AIE Building Agreement concerning the distribution of higher state offices, which say that PDM leader Marian Lupu shall be unanimously supported to the office of president of Moldova and PL chairman Mihai Ghimpu to the post of speaker of the Parliament, are not intangible any longer, but vice versa. The argument of PLDM is that the constitutional crisis cannot be settled without PCRM, while hypothetical solutions to the crisis recommended by PL and PDM exceed the constitutional framework.
Despite criticism, the Appeal of Premier Vlad Filat to citizens is a precious document, at least for the fact that it explains all nuances of relations between AIE components. By releasing this appeal, the premier and PLDM leader took over the political initiative and indicated new priorities, demonstrating his belief that he has built the largest manoeuvre field based on several pillars:
- “EU mandate”;
- Civilian support institutionalised through the “Reform Committee”;
- Business support institutionalised through the “Economic Council”;
- Understanding of the opposition Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM).
Reaction of PCRM to conflicts inside of AIE
While Premier Vlad Filat was holding consultations with society, the parliamentary faction of PCRM released a statement on June 29 to describe conflicts between AIE leaders as “settling accounts” like that between heads of “organised criminal groups” rather than a debate between some political leaders at national level. In consequence, PCRM recommended the landing of the Parliament leadership as a solution to the conflict. Although implicitly, the PCRM initiative addressed the PLDM, with parliamentary factions representing the two parties holding a qualified majority of at least 2/3 of votes needed to relieve the speaker of the Parliament of his position.
The initiative of PCRM had a meaning just in the perspective of implementing an alleged plan to let Premier Vlad Filat take over temporarily the office of interim chief of state, in accordance with constitutional norms, with the purpose to get rid of disloyal ministers from his cabinet. Therefore, the PCRM would have accepted to support a minority Government of PLDM, without formalising any coalition, in exchange for the election of a PCRM representative as head of the Parliament, who would also take over the office of interim president until election of a chief of state in line with constitutional norms and legislation in effect. If such a plan existed, it was made to “test brains”. PCRM cannot hide the desire to use dissensions inside of AIE in order to destroy it with the aid of PLDM, which it would further eliminate or control by annihilating any field. However, it seems that the PLDM leader has a good adviser to avoid repeating the experience of cooperation between the Christian Democratic People’s Party (PPCD) and PCRM.
One week after the PCRM released the statement concerned, Premier Vlad Filat met Vladimir Voronin as part of consultations with society, with the PCRM leader further eulogising the premier, introducing him as “the best” of AIE leaders. Therefore, the PCRM changed its message, seeking an informal large coalition to overcome the constitutional crisis. In this regard, PCRM leaders promised to stop boycotting parliamentary sittings and continue their activity during plenary sittings in September, when the autumn session will begin.
Reaction of PDM and PL to premier’s Appeal
Although coalition partners PL and PDM do not have any manoeuvre field, they hold instead a large arsenal of possibilities to reduce the upsurge and claims of PLDM leader and his party. Thus, PL and PDM leaders reacted immediately to premier’s appeal to citizens, proving more virulence than expected. Both PL and PDM leaders and their supporters called in question:
- The sincerity of the premier. According to PL and PDM representatives, Premier Filat is not frank when he affirms that the Government Presidium hedges his activity, saying that after the AIE-2 was established the presidium considered more than 500 drafts and turned down just five of them, which means less than one percent. Following the September 2010 story about manipulated engagement of premier’s responsibility for a draft law which deputies wanted to back anyway, Vlad Filat did not have any moral right to invoke the uselessness of the presidium;
- The capacity to work in team and communicate normally with fellows. Leaders of PL and PDM claim that blockages indicated by prime minister are a response to the refusal of PLDM to discuss in the Alliance Board (in line with the AIE Building Agreement) problems carrying difficulties and requiring a principle consensus between allies above all, before any public debates. In order to motivate their accusations that the premier is arrogant and authoritarian, AIE allies invoked the withdrawal of outstanding members from PLDM last year, particularly of the former leader of the parliamentary faction and first deputy chairman of PLDM, Mihai Godea, former justice minister Alexandru Tanase, lawyer and former chairman of the parliamentary commission in charge with investigation of the April 7, 2009 riots, Vitalie Nagacevschi, and other known competent personalities. This way, PL and PDM leaders tried to blame the PLDM for the conflicts inside of the alliance, as many known personalities have left this party;
- The trueness of ambitions to set itself up as only promoter of reforms, fighter against corruption and fraudulent schemes. PL leader Mihai Ghimpu derided the capacity of PLDM to implement reforms, saying that “replacing the man of «P» with the man of «F» is not a reform.” The way the conflict related to the bakery Franzeluta was provoked and settled raised much perplexity. The replacement of the former Franzeluta manager with a known PLDM member (former director of the same enterprise nominated in 2003 and relieved from office in 2004 during the PCRM rule) was enough to throw doubts on credibility of plans indicated in the appeal of the premier to citizens.
By invoking these arguments, PL and PDM leaders invited Vlad Filat to stop stratagems and quickly decide himself if he wants to destroy the AIE and make a coalition with PCRM. If he does not lead the Government in a collegial manner any longer, he shall step down as prime minister, the way he has earlier called: “the one who cannot work shall leave.” Objective or subjective reactions of premier’s opponents demonstrated that the appeal to citizens failed its goal to throw the blame on alliance partners. Finally, the appeal did not motivate PL and PDM leaders to fix up the conflict inside of AIE, nor warned them in connection with the “necessary measures” that the premier will have to take.
Given this state of things, Vlad Filat found himself in a delicate situation — his AIE fellows do not believe that he is honest and capable to accomplish his warnings. Consultations with society and opposition do not enlarge the manoeuvre field of the premier, perhaps just the PR and image-making ground. PL leader Mihai Ghimpu stated unequivocally that all the ways of manoeuvre of the prime minister have been considered and they are inoffensive:
- A coalition between PLDM and PCRM would ruin the first and would be refused by the latter, which speaks about an eventual informal large coalition for clearly expressed interests that would at least ascertain the death of AIE. Realising these facts, the PLDM leader assures citizens in his appeal that he will not be the first to break up the alliance;
- The resignation as prime minister would be a mistake, while the repeat invocation of this threat would put him in an embarrassing situation, as nobody would believe him. In fact, the resignation of prime minister would aim just to challenge early parliamentary elections, which could be also provoked by incapacity to elect the chief of state. However, PLDM should not dream about better results than those of the November 2010 parliamentary elections. The June 2010 local elections proved that PLDM is falling down after losing all known members. The administrative factor following the recent victory in mayoralties of approximately 1/3 localities and about 40 percent of offices of district heads would hardly compensate the withdrawal of known personalities, particularly after some of them launched own political projects and say that they have supporters in PLDM inclusively. In addition, challenging early elections by stepping down as prime minister would mean the self-evident and imminent establishment of the post-electoral alliance of PLDM and PCRM (if the latter would not become an absolute winner given the “quality” of AIE rule), so that it makes no sense to challenge elections. The last factor would build an extremely virulent information environment for PLDM. In general, any action taken by PLDM to become partner of PCRM would turn the first into a second-hand partner and deprive it of any manoeuvre field (the game is not worth the candle);
- The engagement of responsibility for a reformist programme is problematical because after the withdrawal of known personalities from this party little would be capable to work out an original programme which would survive in the current adverse conditions, both from PCRM and AIE fellows.
The circle is close and the manoeuvre field is narrow. In these circumstances, PLDM does not have any other way but to keep a firm hold on “overcoming the constitutional crisis” by finding a formula to elect the chief of state. PLDM has reasons to refrain from launching the procedure of election of chief of state in line with legislation in force, the way the PCRM wants. The PCRM solution to choose a common candidacy is dangerous, as this party is capable to block it at any moment in order to challenge early elections, which it could win alone. On the other hand, PLDM does not like the solution proposed by PL and PDM — to modify the Constitution in order to gradually reduce the threshold for election of chief of state, so that to be able to elect the president with a simple majority of votes of deputies. PLDM warms just one way — the direct election of chief of state, as this is the only way for its leader Vlad Filat to run the supreme office. Everybody understands this fact. PCRM leader Vladimir Voronin has already stated that this solution was and is inacceptable for his party. The honour chairman of PDM, Dumitru Diacov, disagreed with this solution, hinting that conflicts inside of AIE are a consequence of the bids of PLDM leader to run the supreme office. PL leader Mihai Ghimpu alone would accept the direct election of the chief of state after the adoption of a new Constitution. However, the PL leader stressed that the chief of state could be elected directly just after resolution of political crisis and fulfilment of agreements inside of AIE.
In these circumstances, the lifebelt for PLDM is to adopt a new Constitution, a solution proposed and promoted by PL leader in 2010 but barred by PLDM inclusively. The leader of the PLDM parliamentary faction, Valeriu Strelet, confirmed the idea of adopting a new Constitution: “an ample improvement of the Supreme Law is required; we will seriously discuss the text of a new Constitution… there are two ways to settle the constitutional crisis in the Republic of Moldova and elect the chief of state… The first one is to release a legislative initiative in the Parliament, but the support of deputies is needed, or there is no other solution but to hold a referendum.” It is worth to note that an issue already voted at a referendum cannot be brought to referendum for the second time before two years.
Conclusions and medium-term expectations
End of unbegun story
- The Appeal of Premier Vlad Filat to citizens recognised the ending for the “success story” preceded by the message sent by the EU representative in Chisinau, Dirk Schubel, to Moldovan authorities: “the honeymoon between the EU and the Republic Moldova is over, now it’s time for concrete reforms and actions.” However, reforms cannot develop because “things do not work” inside of AIE;
- Attempts to make clear why “the things do not work” pushed the AIE to the bridge of collapse. Premier and PLDM leader Vlad Filat individualised the one who is to blame for the blockage inside of AIE — the “jigger” who enveloped the Republic of Moldova with the mafia tentacles by using his “marionettes”. On the other hand, PL and PDM leaders say that the PLDM chairman is also to blame for his failed ambitions and incapacity to communicate normally with his fellows and meet commitments foreseen by the AIE Building Agreement;
- Many statements by PLDM leader concerning the AIE in general and his PDM and PL fellows in particular are credible, but adverse affirmations are credible, too. Given the truths that AIE leaders revealed reciprocally, as well as after the public use of a vocabulary like that described above, one should be naive to believe that AIE is so far able to function in an acceptable manner or to enjoy a massive moral support;
- Arguments regarding the need to preserve the AIE in order to prevent the comeback of the PCRM rule do not persuade the PLDM leader any longer. However, the collapse of AIE by PLDM carries many risks for the prime minister and his party. Therefore, any alliance between PLDM and PCRM is improbable but not impossible, despite the call for a dialogue with PCRM.
Small manoeuvre field for PLDM
- An eventual coalition with PCRM would turn the PLDM into a secondary partner. Since the PCRM does not forget the myth about its removal from governance in 2009 through a “coup d’etat” directed by PLDM leader Vlad Filat himself, the latter would have to feel guilty for the moral sufferings of Vladimir Voronin. Thus, if he builds a coalition with the PCRM, the PLDM leader will have to revise his attitude towards the April 7, 2009 events, give up the political priority “Voronin-free Moldova, Communist-free Moldova” and public promise to build a monument for “victims of Voronin’s regime.” Even more, PLDM would have to accept a ruling programme mainly worked out by PCRM experts, etc.;
- Hence, the manoeuvre field of PLDM is limited enough, despite appearances. The only goal of PCRM now is to split the AIE, rather than to make a coalition with PLDM, and that’s why it seeks a large coalition with the declared purpose to overcome the constitutional crisis by electing the chief of state.
Position of opposition
- The PCRM would like to see the chief of state election procedure released as a mechanism to challenge early parliamentary elections. The collapse of AIE would be a clear premise that Moldova cannot be ruled without PCRM. In these circumstances, it does not matter if AIE components warm the PCRM initiative to choose a consensual candidacy for the post of chief of state. Since the chief of state is elected by secret vote, the PCRM would be able to break down this procedure “in secret” without running any risk to be accused. On the contrary, AIE deputies would be rather blamed, as they have never known what they have to do;
- Given the collapsing AIE, the PCRM leader does not want just to get back the rule, but a triumphant and loud comeback. Therefore, the PCRM would like to come back with the same title as it had before being removed through the “coup d’etat”. This explains why PCRM leader Vladimir Voronin stopped discussing the rebranding of PCRM;
- Attempts to prepare the field for an eventual coalition of PCRM with PLDM through “modernisation and rebranding” of PCRM were suddenly stopped by Vladimir Voronin who acknowledged the managerial skills of his young fellow Igor Dodon and the loud success of the latter at the recent municipal elections, but noted that he is “less experienced than PLDM is” in political terms.
Expectations from AIE
- Given the lack of mutually acceptable solutions to the institutional crisis, AIE members will likely try to mimic efforts to find solutions in order to save time, the least until spring 2012 or even later;
- AIE components will likely keep a firm hold on decision and recommendations of the Constitutional Court concerning the settlement of the constitutional crisis, proposing diverse ways to amend the Constitution or adopt a new supreme law. The adoption of a new Constitution is stipulated even by the ruling programme of AIE and this process could be very long, at least half a year, one year or more.
Expectations from PCRM
- PCRM understands artifices that AIE components are capable to use and that’s why it prepared a pressing tool called “Congress of citizens” for the autumn political season, with the purpose to maintain the electoral mobilisation and to fight against “power usurpers”;
- PCRM is very interested to see the procedure of election of chief of state start as soon as possible, in order to clarify things by the end of the year. Postponing the resolution of institutional crisis for 2012 would reveal the mistake of having boycotted in 2009. This would mean that the future of PCRM is uncertain so far after three years of being in opposition in uncertain conditions. If no boycott was held in 2009, a new ordinary electoral cycle would have started in 2013 and the reformed PCRM would have been credited with great chances. Now if the three components of AIE-2 break off, the four AIE-1 members would have collapsed for sure, and the PCRM would have ruled the country long ago if it elected Marian Lupu as chief of state;
- PCRM is expected to hold an ordinary congress in spring 2012, and it should have clear perspectives until then. If the uncertain situation and boycotts are the only accomplishments of PCRM, supporters of reformer Igor Dodon could have to say a heavy word in order to wash the humiliation that their leader has suffered from party dictators. It is already clear that Igor Dodon is building a large circle of supporters in business, information and international sectors. Therefore, the dogmatic garniture of PCRM needs at least something positive, being motivated to use the “Congress of citizens” to press AIE on autumn;
Final conclusion: the story has a… happy end for all
- Business members of AIE could make peace, if the assessment of risks would make them understand that making peace is better than trying to destroy each other. Another solution would be equivalent to the victory of “P” over “F”, as the PL leader said. Really, if one cannot make “success story” of Moldova’s interests, why not to turn personal interests into “success stories”.