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No way out of Moldova’s current political stalemate in sight

January 15, 2016, 19:11 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
©  AP Photo/John McConnico

MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. Moldova’s months-long acute political crisis will most likely result in early parliamentary elections in the spring, but whatever turn the events may take, democratic or violent (many have already been mulling Moldova’s equivalent of Maidan-type street protests earlier observed in the Ukrainian capital Kiev), Russian analysts see no realistic way out of the current political stalemate. Moldova’s geopolitical choice in favor of Europe has yielded the people no benefits, they say.

Last Wednesday, the ruling Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) presented its leader, big business tycoon Vlad Plahotniuc, as candidate for the prime-minister’s seat to President Nicolae Timofti. The latter turned down the proposal, saying there were suspicions Plahotniuc failed to meet anti-corruption requirements. He proposed his own nominee: Ion Paduraru, the general secretary of his staff.

Analysts argue that the chances of the new candidate for premiership are close to nothing, because the president proposed him without prior consultations with parliament.

Mass protest demonstrations have continued in Moldova for a fourth month running. They have already resulted in the arrest of a former prime minister, leader of the Liberal-Democratic Party (the backbone of the Alliance for European Integration) Vlad Filat on corruption charges and the dismissal of the Valeriu Strelet-led Cabinet. Another split in the ruling alliance followed. For two months the leaders of the affiliated parties were unable to form a new coalition despite pressures from EU and US diplomats, who kept urging the Moldovan authorities to go ahead with the European integration policy. Society is opposed to tycoons who occupy commanding positions in the bodies of power. In general, it wants the ruling political class replaced for permitting the theft of more than one million euros from Moldovan banks.

The leader of Moldova’s Communists, Vladimir Voronin, has said that the political crisis in the country is getting from bad to worse by leaps and bounds and Moldova’s equivalent of Ukraine’s "Maidan protests" may follow.

"Apparently, the situation is moving towards early parliamentary elections, because the national legislature will certainly reject the president’s candidate for the prime minister’s seat," the head of the Moldova and Trans-Dniestria Section at the CIS Studies Institute, Sergey Lavrenov, has told TASS. "This means that after two failed attempts at approving a prime minister elections should follow."

Both right-and left-wing parties are unanimous in their demand for early elections, the analyst said. "Early elections might ease the intensity of street protests, but after the multi-billion thefts from banks by the ruling elite and the plummeting living standards public discontent is bound to rise. Everybody blames Plahotniuc and a number of other oligarchs."

Lavrenov believes that from the European Union’s point of view most leaders of the pro-European parties, including Plahotniuc himself, are discrediting the European idea. The EU had for a long time supported the Alliance for European Integration despite the arbitrariness in finance, the economy and politics.

"The EU’s current task is to ensure Moldova should retain its European integration development vector, but at the same time its political space be updated and reformatted," he said.

Lavrenov finds it hard to predict which way the current standoff in Moldova will be evolving.

"Moldova’s political class is strongly split, and the split is not geo-political, although formally it is believed that half of the electorate are for Europe and the other half, for Eurasian integration," the deputy dean of the World Economy and World Politics Department of the Higher School of Economics, Andrei Suzdaltsev, told TASS. "A variety of criminal schemes are in the focus of public attention - mostly the funds embezzled by senior civil servants, in fact, by the whole ruling elite. Plahotniuc has in fact bought the country, and everybody is well aware of that. Hence the aggravation."

Suzdaltsev blames the current turmoil entirely on Moldova’s association with Europe. "No European values have taken root. Moldova has remained one of the poorest countries in Europe. Its economy is migration-dependent. The EU is unable to do anything about this. All attempts at trading one’s geopolitical choice have brought about nothing good. The socio-economic situation is getting from bad to worse, which breeds one political crisis after another."

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