Electoral promises of Governor Irina Vlah

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Igor Botan / April 1, 2015
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Moldovan politicians promise a lot during electoral campaigns, but their performance is usually modest. When they enter a new electoral campaign, they forget to give an account about their fulfillment of past promises. It is also true for the politicians in the Gagauz autonomy. Below, we shall present a map of electoral promisesRO of the newly elected Governor of Gagauzia Irina Vlah. It should be mentioned that during the electoral campaign Mrs. Irina Vlah identified as a successor and continuator of the policies promoted between 2006 and 2015 by Governor Mihail Formuzal. His objective was to make “11 steps towards people” so as to make Gagauzia prosper. Therefore, it would be useful to have the work of newly elected Governor Irina Vlah monitored through the prism of Mihail Formuzal’s legacy, especially since he supported her in the electoral campaign. However, we should from the start mention the differences between Irina Vlah and Mihail Formuzal. The latter grew from his position of administrator, mayor of the town of Ceadir-Lunga, to politician, leader of the Party of Regions, and even geo-politician, animator and organizer of the regional referendum on the Eurasian integration of Gagauzia despite the European integration course of Moldovan authorities. Irina Vlah, on the contrary, promised not to do politics, but to focus on the administration of the Gagauz autonomy based on principles of political non-affiliation, despite a political experience of 10 years as a communist MP (representing the Party of Communists of Moldova) in the Moldovan Parliament. The electoral programRU of newly-elected Governor Irina Vlah is complex and refers to the most important aspects of social and economic life of the Gagauz autonomy, deserving a brief analysis per sections.

General visions and approaches

General promises serve as a benchmark to which all other specific promises shall relate. They refer to the following:

The above evoke events of reference for the Gagauz autonomy and express views on the current situation and aspirations for future development. In this sense, the referendum of 2 February 2014 on Gagauz citizens’ support of the Eurasian integration vector in contrast with the European vector promoted by central authorities is the central point in the vision for the development of Gagauzia. In the administration of the Gagauz autonomy, the newly-elected governor intends to use the support of a kind of a “council of the wise”, which shall include, among others, the leaders of the Gagauz Republic of 1990–1995, who declared the region’s independence from Moldova (Soviet Socialist Republic of Moldova), but within the Soviet Union. It is more than just an allusion to the continuity and succession in the preferences of the Gagauz people to be together with Russia in the CU and the EEU, just as a quarter of a century ago they preferred to remain within the Soviet Union. Just as important is the recognition of the fact that after a quarter of a century of national renaissance the creation of the Gagauz autonomy failed to reach its initial goal — “satisfaction of national needs and maintenance of national identity of the Gagauz people, their plenary and multilateral development, prosperity of the national language and culture, ensuring political and economic self-sufficiency”. It should be mentioned that in the recent elections of the governor of Gagauzia the demand to print ballots in the Gagauz language was only 1.5%. It is a very important indicator to understand the role of the Gagauz language in the political and administrative life of the region. There is also curiosity about Irina Vlah’s accusations against the central authorities in Chisinau, which allegedly undertook measures to limit the use of the Gagauz language in the region. In fact, no examples were given as to the ways in which Chisinau engages in such reprehensible deeds, but for the sake of a better electoral score such accusations are still made.

The role and place of Gagauzia within the Republic of Moldova

Since the establishment of the Gagauz autonomy, the discussion about the role and place of Gagauzia within Moldova has been a common thing. In this sense, Irina Vlah’s electoral program stipulates as follows:

It was a serious failure to have no electoral debates, in which electoral contestants and journalists could formulate specific questions for candidates. However, given Irina Vlah’s intention to maintain continuity in the government of the Gagauz region, one may assume that the status of special law for the law on the status of Gagauzia aims at the use of the principle of priority of special rules over general rules. In this sense, the elites from Comrat constantly invoked the refusal of Chisinau to bring the legal framework of Moldova in compliance with the law on the special legal status of Gagauzia, considering that Chisinau thus avoided the promises it made in the process of settling the conflict with Comrat in 1994. If this is what they mean, then the promoter of legislative modifications invoked in Irina Vlah’s electoral programs should be the largest group in the Parliament of Moldova-the group of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), which supported Irina Vlah in the campaign for the elections of the governor. Therefore, the above-mentioned legislative adjustments should be attributed to the PSRM.

Economic and regional development

The newly-elected governor’s ambition to transform the region into a center of regional development that would attract other economic operators from the country by examples that could serve as role models is appreciated. In this sense, Irina Vlah’s electoral promises include:

It should be mentioned that the most important future economic performance of the Gagauz region is related to the support of Russian investors and authorities. The role of Moldovan central authorities is in no way explained. Moreover, one may get the impression that central authorities are the main obstacle in the way to Gagauzia’s economic prosperity. It is important to mention that during the electoral campaign Irina Vlah, together with the leader of the PSRM, made some visits to Moscow and to Russian regions in order to ensure future support from Russian decision makers. So, fulfillment of the corresponding promises regards not only the newly-elected governor of Gagauzia, but also Russian authorities. The latter observation is important for the reason that Russian authorities were massively involved into the regional electoral campaign in Gagauzia. Then, it would be of interest to eventually compare support from the EU, which Gagauz authorities prefer not to talk about, with support from the Russian Federation.

Social development

Electoral promises concerning the social sphere are traditionally very broad. The positive aspect is that such promises are quantifiable:

Just like future economic development of Gagauzia, its social development has been foreseen with Russian support. We may also mention that in this segment there were no public debates, either, during which certain things could be specified. For example, it is known that in recent years the EU offered to Gagauz authorities grants amounting at about EUR 5 million, while it is unknown how much was offered by the Russian Federation, on which the social support of Gagauzia will depend in the following four years, according to Irina Vlah’s electoral program. Russia’s goodwill is truly of great use for migrant workers from Gagauzia in the Russian Federation. However, it is unclear how the branches of some Russian public institutions could be opened on the territory of the Republic of Moldova outside diplomatic missions, so it will be interesting to see how a branch of the Russian Migration Service could be opened in Comrat. The same refers to the supply of Russian gas to Gagauzia by avoiding the “Moldovagaz” company.

Infrastructure development

The promises to develop the regional infrastructure are definitely quantifiable and verifiable:

The only specification to be made here is the fact that Irina Vlah’s electoral program identifies only Russia and Turkey as Gagauzia’s international partners.

Governor of Gagauzia Elections in Figures Irina Vlah’s Inauguration as Governor of Gagauzia