Summer was a probation period for the new coalition government led by Maia Sandu. The new government has come across complex multifaceted tasks that require political wisdom, maturity and balanced approaches. While it is still too early to talk about profound elimination of corruption and antidemocratic abuses, a step towards building a civilized modern state has been taken. The set tasks can be accomplished provided that those in power are able to negotiate, agree and prevent the expansion of space for conflict in the power corridors. The external factor continues to play a defining role for Moldova, so does the importance of financial assistance from international and EU entities. The new government focuses primarily on building its policies in the interests of Moldovan citizens.
Political changes and the new government
Moldova escaped snap parliamentary election. The Party of Socialists of Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and Bloc ACUM, both opposition parties, signed a temporary political agreement helping them to overcome the political crisis and start dismantling the oligarch regime. Despite the indisputably significant role of political forces that have shown strong will, determination and sequence of actions, the external factor contributed decisively to domestic political processes. Three high-ranking representatives from Russia, the EU and the USA arrived in Moldova at the critical moment, managing to initiate the “recovery” process of Moldova and normalization of its political situation. The overthrow of Vlad Plahotniuc’s regime that lasted a decade de facto had a unifying effect on domestic and external political forces. As a result, the Party of Democrats of Moldova (PDM) went into opposition and the oligarch left the country.
The top priority tasks for the new government include dismantling the oligarch regime, implementing a package of anti-oligarch laws, solving problems linked to economic and budgetary risks, and endorsing real economic, social and judiciary reforms. Resolving the Transnistria conflict is one of the ten top priority tasks set by the Government. In addition, the Parliament passed a law cancelling the mixed electoral system and going back to the proportional representation system in the third and final reading. MPs voted to decrease financial support for election campaigns and representation threshold to 5% for parties, 7% for blocs and 2% for independent candidates.
Macro-financial assistance from the EU
A search of funds to cover the budget deficit was one of the many problems the new government inherited from Plahotniuc’s regime. It could not do without assistance from international partners. After EU entities were assured of the new government’s strong political will and desire to accomplish real results in reforms and practical implementation of the EU-Moldova Association Agreement, the disbursements of budget support resumed on July 24 and MDL 284 mn (nearly 14,5 mn Euro) was unblocked. In addition, three EU funding agreements were signed in Brussels on July 25 to assist Moldova in strengthening the rule of law and fighting corruption, and to provide economic support. The total budget of these agreements exceeds EUR 40 mn. Further actions were dictated by the EU for Moldova to obtain financial resources. The 28 indicated conditions include democratic standards in the country, free and transparent local elections, demonopolization of the media market, investigation of the bank frauds, revealing corruption schemes and regulation of the tax burden.
EU-Russia Relationship: Will balance be achieved?
Apart from its commitment to the European vector of development and the intention to consistently implement the Association Agreement with the EU, regular contacts with representatives of EU entities, construction of strategic partnership with the US and close cooperation with the neighboring states, the new government’s focus is to revise its relations with Russia, restore economic relations and intensify trade and economic cooperation.
The new government is trying to build honest and open bilateral dialogue so that relations between Moldova and Russia do not go against agreements with the EU. At this stage, the main task is to try and unblock the opportunities of agricultural exports to the Russian market.