Moldova: Elections are coming

Sorin Sclearuc, Foreign Policy Association of Moldova (Chisinau, Moldova)

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As Moldova was getting ready for the winter holidays, preparations for the parliamentary elections scheduled for February 24 were in full swing too. ACUM (Now), the pro-European and anti-oligarchic bloc was formed, led by Maia Sandu, the head of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), and Andrei Năstase, the head of Dignity and Truth Platform Party “DA”. Moldovan parties published lists of candidates by constituency demonstrating the faults of the mixed electoral system. For the fifth time now, Moldovan President Igor Dodon was suspended from office for yet another refusal to promulgate the laws proposed by the Parliament.


Brace yourself, elections are coming

PAS’s Maia Sandu and DA’s Andrei Năstase signed an agreement to form the ACUM bloc (Now) on December 16. It positions itself as pro-European and anti-oligarchic. Currently, the bloc is the main opposition force that is ready to compete with Igor Dodon’s Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova and Vlad Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party of Moldova.

“We are united by the desire to put the Republic of Moldova on the right track, to give citizens a chance to have a decent life at home, and to do everything possible so that those who have left could come back. We are united by the commitment to build a truly democratic society where votes cannot be stolen or bought. We are united by the idea of building a democratic state that is able to protect us from all kinds of thieves, usurpers and corrupt officials”, Maia Sandu said.

Moldova’s President Igor Dodon was suspended from office in what is less than two months after the previous suspension. The head of state refused to promulgate a number of laws including the ones on transferring the territory of the former Republican Stadium to the US Embassy for the construction of its new premises and on the adoption of a new Media Code that monopolizes media space in the country in the President’s opinion. Also, Dodon did not agree with the Labor Code amendment to introduce the celebration of the Day of Europe on May 9, the same day as Victory Day is marked.  

On December 25, Igor Dodon met with Vadim Krasnoselsky, the leader of Transnistria. The Moldovan president noted the progress in the Transnistria dialogue on his social media account, and the implementation of 6 out of 8 provisions in the respective action plan. Dodon referred to the Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria as a factor of stability.

“There have been some provocations in that regard this year. But we managed to deal with everything in a joint effort without serious consequences, largely because the peacekeepers help maintain the good climate to ensure the right of Moldovan citizens to freely express their will during the parliamentary elections on February 24, 2019”, Igor Dodon said.


New Year handouts

Along with the election race, a quiet “bribing” of citizens in the Republic of Moldova has begun. The Democratic Party uses administrative leverage to send letters ascribing to itself all accomplishments of the Cabinet of Ministers and promising a “New Year gift” of MDL600 ($36) to all the pensioners whose pensions are under MDL2000 ($117). According to the source, over 500 000 pensioners are going to receive it.

Beginning March 1, 2019 the National Agency for Energy Regulation (ANRE) will adopt a new methodology for calculating the price for oil products. According to it, companies will now set fuel prices.

Energy expert Sergiu Tofilat said “This seems like a silent agreement between the suppliers. For consumers, competitive environment is ideal”. Tofilat believes that the entry of this law into force was intentionally postponed until March 1, so that gas and petroleum prices remained stable before the parliamentary elections while the suppliers would get a carte blanche to increase rates right after the vote.

Importantly, Chisinau saw protests in June 2018. Protesters then expressed their frustration with ANRE’s decision to raise petroleum price. Moldova’s Prime Minister Pavel Filip abolished this initiative. Meanwhile, the new law will allow the government to stave off the blame for the future fuel prices increase.


The dialogue continues

Prime Minister Pavel Filip met with U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs George Kent on December 5. Prime Minister Filip noted that Moldova-US relations are strategic and that US assistance is very important for the Republic of Moldova. He also noted that any problems can be solved with dialogue and compromise, and the Moldovan government is ready for it. “We are a team that wants and can change the situation in Moldova,” he added.

The US official said that his country supports the development of the Republic of Moldova into a democratic and prosperous country. At the same time, George Kent noted that the US supports Moldova in the process of solving external and internal problems, as well as in preventing risks of external interference during the elections in February. In this regard, Prime Minister Filip guaranteed that the government would do its best to make the elections free and transparent.