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Electoral programs before the elections in Moldova: between promises and populism

pas
©EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU  |   Supporters of Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) attend the launching of party's electoral campaign for early parliamentary elections in Chisinau, Moldova, 05 June 2021.

Early parliamentary elections will be held in Moldova on July 11. The list of candidates is long, with no less than 19 parties and electoral blocs officially registered to take part in the race for 101 parliament seats. Of these, no more than six have a real chance of crossing the electoral thresholds of 5% for parties or 7% for electoral blocs consisting of two or more parties. Veridica carried out a brief x-ray of the electoral programs proposed by the main competitors.

The Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS)

Under the slogan “Let's start the good times”, PAS proposes a 45-page program that includes the party's visions and electoral promises for potential voters. From the very beginning, the PAS links its image to its former leader, Maia Sandu, who continues to play the role of PAS engine, even if the Constitution does not officially allow this.

The preamble to the program refers to Justice and the fight against the phenomenon of endemic corruption in the Republic of Moldova.

“The period of theft, lawlessness, division and deliberate impoverishment of the many can end in 2021. People want to live well, at home, with their loved ones. To feel free, to enjoy prosperity, to see their work appreciated, to know that what is theirs will not be stolen”, the document states.

However, on the campaign website, among the 10 laws that PAS proposes to adopt as soon as it reaches Parliament, the first three are related to socio-economic issues and only the next three refer to the eradication of corruption by confiscating the assets of corrupt officials and dignitaries, lifting the immunity of corrupt deputies and changes in the functioning of the judiciary.

PAS advocates the development of the country alongside the European Union and promises financing programs for farmers, given that already about 66% of the exports of the Republic of Moldova, mostly agricultural products, go to European markets.

Their program then targets state employees - doctors, teachers, police officers, civil servants. Salary increases of 10% are promised for all public servants and up to 30% for teachers.

PAS promises five major national goals, which are linked to the reformist agenda of President Maia Sandu. Thus, the PAS platform focuses on: a program against endemic corruption in the area of ​​the judiciary and corruption among state officials; decently paid jobs at home with a national average salary of over 700 euros by 2025; a minimum pension of about 100 euros; the development of villages and their modernization through investments of about 100 million euros; developing relations with the European Union and attracting funds and investments from the West.

The program targets all age groups, both urban and rural. Also, working conditions for women and the repatriation of the Moldovan diaspora are targeted. PAS’s promises would also benefit entrepreneurs, farmers and public system employees (doctors, teachers, police officers).

PAS also promises the development of road, energy and medical infrastructure, as well as social welfare programs. Foreign and security policies are left at the bottom of the list of priorities. PAS militates for a pro-European foreign policy and a clear option for a rapprochement with the European Union.

Foreign policy is presented as consistent and in line with European values. Regarding the foreign policy priorities, after the aim of getting closer to Brussels, PAS mentions Romania as its main development partner. The relationship with Russia is mentioned in the fifth position and only in terms of a correct economic relationship, followed by the expressed desire to relaunch the strategic partnership with the USA, practically the second foreign donor of the Republic of Moldova, after the European Union.

Regarding the Transnistrian file, the PAS pleads for an intensification of the dialogue in the 5 + 2 negotiation format (Moldova, Transnistria, the OSCE, the Russian Federation, Ukraine, the United States of America and the European Union). What is interesting is that the PAS program no longer includes the withdrawal of Russian troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, a fact stressed right at the beginning of Maya Sandu's term in December 2020. The rhetoric, however, has faded in the meantime, in order to avoid antagonizing Russia at presidential level as well.

The Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists

So far, the Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists (BeCS) has not presented an official program, but rather a brief review of the strengths with which it will approach this electoral race, all related to the social-economic area, which is quite common for the left wing.  

The orientation is pro-Russian, as stated by the President of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, in his congratulations on Russia's National Day, when he said that “The Russian Federation is our most sincere friend and most trusted strategic partner”.

“We are united by centuries of common history, the common struggle against foreign invaders, the same faith and Church, many economic, social and humanitarian ties. We will never forget the bravery of the Russian soldiers who shed their blood for the liberation of our land, as well as the help that Russia offered to our people in the hardest years after the war.

Today, hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens live and work in Russia. The products of Moldovan farmers and winemakers are loved and appreciated in Russia. Russian soldiers have been carrying out peacekeeping operations in our country - and largely because of their efforts, our land has not been marked by any bloodshed for almost 30 years”,  Dodon said.

On June 8, Igor Dodon and his alliance partner, the leader of the Party of Communists, Vladimir Voronin, presented their program of socio-economic development of the Republic of Moldova and their vision for the coming years in a factory. The program has seven pillars: industrialization of the economy, regional development, agricultural development, social support, the health system, education, culture.

Mention should be made of the fact that BeCS is counting on the Soviet nostalgia for the industrialization of the economy. “The volume of industrial production, recorded in 2020, was only 60% compared to 1989, and the share of industry in the structure of the GDP fell by half, just like the number of people employed in the industrial sector”, BeCS claims.

The program also talks about increasing pensions and social benefits but does not mention how much and within which timeframe.

 Just like in the presidential election that he lost last fall, Dodon is building his rhetoric on anti-European, anti-Romanian and statist messages. Dodon talks about joining forces against the West and Romania, which want to destroy the Republic of Moldova.

“Foreign factors, with the help of their political instruments in Chisinau, want to impose on citizens a set of pseudo-values, which are anti-family, anti-Christian, and unsuitable for our nation. Also, they seek to liquidate the Moldovan identity, including by banning the Moldovan language. The aim is to transform our country into a colony, which will become a source of cheap labor, cheap land sold to foreigners, etc.”, Dodon wrote on his Facebook page on May 15, after officially registering the alliance with the PCRM.

The share of racist, xenophobic and anti-NATO accusations was left to the other leader of BeCS, Vladimir Voronin. “Is this what you want, dear voters, when you vote for parliament? Do you want them to vote for the abolition of the country's neutral status? And for NATO soldiers to come here and have dark-skinned children, not just white-skinned ones? Is that what you want? And then, Romanian gendarmes following them?”, Voronin said on a political show broadcast by TVC 21 on May 14.

Generally speaking, the BeCS program is rather superficial, lacking in vision, numbers and deadlines. Instead, the PSRM-controlled media, as well as the Russian-language ones, have already started the fake news and black PR campaign against PAS and its image vector, Maia Sandu.

Our Party

What must be mentioned from the beginning is that Our Party was established on a typical Soviet format, with an authoritarian leader, the mayor of Bălți, Renato Usatii, who is also the image of the party. In a nutshell, Renato Usatii is a populist politician, a prototype of the “smart guy” who got rich in a way unknown in the East, but most likely from onerous business and connections with the criminal area. The other leaders of Our Party are pretty unknown to the general public.

As for the party's electoral program, it looks like it was drawn up by a Western team or specialists, including Romanian. Renato Usatii's motto in this campaign, “I have a dream!”, is an analogy to Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous speech against racism in American society.

However, Renato Usatii and his party do not have much in common with the Western democratic values, but rather with the Soviet model, with a populist discourse on the fight against corruption. In fact, in a May show on TV8, Usatii said that his vision to fight endemic corruption in the Republic of Moldova was to set up an unscrupulous “Mossad” that would catch the fugitive oligarchs, hinting at Ilan Shor and Vlad Plahotniuc.

His program is based on a populist anti-system vision and the image of a Soviet-style Robin Hood that puts things in order through measures that are sometimes atypical or not necessarily law-abiding.

In fact, the program is also full of inaccuracies. As regards the economy, the program speaks of a 6.5 billion US dollar GDP, while the World Bank data indicate a GDP of 11.97 billion dollars for the Republic of Moldova. The reform of the judiciary or that of the prosecutor's office are included in the same chapter as subpoints.

Even in his case, the fight against corruption is only tackled in the second part of the electoral program, while foreign policy is left for the end. Our Party has a statist positioning, which does not approach foreign policy through the prism of any particular foreign partnership. Renato Usatii militates for the solving of domestic issues. However, a number of Russian visions transpire here, when he speaks of a referendum for citizens to decide the foreign policy direction, a fact that Moscow frequently invokes in relation to sensitive issues in the Republic of Moldova.

The Ilan Shor Party

Named after the former mayor of Orhei, a former deputy and currently fugitive oligarch, after receiving a sentence of seven and a half years in the famous “one billion-dollar theft” case,  the Ilan Shor Party is a populist party and a vehicle through which Ilan Shor wants to be involved in politics in order to influence the course of court proceedings in the cases he is involved in and to preserve its wealth obtained in onerous ways, especially from business with or related to the strategic objectives of the state.

Its electoral program has just one page and is focused on the social area, defining itself as a left-wing party, with Soviet nostalgias, after in the past it militated for the re-establishment of collective farms in the Republic of Moldova.

Ilan Shor says that “the state will actively protect its farmers, just as they do in the European countries”. His economic vision is a protectionist and interventionist one on the part of the state. “The state will actively participate in various sectors of the economy. Infrastructure, transport, communications, energy, housing and utilities, social trade, pharmaceuticals, ecology - the role of the state will be decisive in all these areas. The nationalization of energy companies, owned by foreign enterprises, is a condition for ensuring energy security and reducing tariffs for the population”, the program reads.

His vision on corruption and crime is also particular. “Law and order must become sacred concepts in our society. Regarding the fight against crime, the solution is the gradual elimination of its social roots- poverty, unemployment - and educating the population in the spirit of observing the law”, Shor says.

Also, in a populist way and against European democratic practices, Ilan Shor is toying with the idea of ​​“resuming capital punishment for particularly dangerous criminals”.

In terms of foreign policy, the Shor Party resumes Moscow's theses, according to which Moldovan statehood and military neutrality must be strengthened.

The Dignity and Truth Platform  (PPDA)

Just like PAS, PPDA has a consistent 51-page program that comprehensively covers all priority areas of the state. PPDA claims it is a party that advocates for “a democratic, European type of state, a state governed by the rule of law and with a social market economy leading to prosperity”.

In general, the messages are about the fight against corruption, the reform of the judiciary and freeing state institutions from “political captivity”.

“The party belives that, given that state institutions have been captured by oligarchic groups, the struggle for a genuine rule of law in the Republic of Moldova becomes the main goal of the truly democratic and patriotic forces. Putting Moldova back on the track of a European and civilized development is inconceivable without the unconditional observance of the principle of the rule of law and the separation of powers in the state”, the PPDA program reads.

The electoral program has no less than 13 major chapters. The first are dedicated to the reform of the justice system, followed by the socio-economic field, foreign policy and security and the reunification of the country.

Also included in the PPDA program is the withdrawal of the Russian troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.

PPDA militates for privileged relations with the European Union, then with Romania, with which it wants to “deepen the political, economic, commercial, cultural relations”.

“Given that the new architecture of the international order is formed based on the concept of a multipolar world, the Republic of Moldova is oriented towards the European Union, thanks to the political and economic weight of the European community, to ensure its national interests, especially in terms of economic development and national security. From a political point of view, the European integration of the Republic of Moldova means carrying through reforms, democratic stability, enhancing security, the territorial reunification of the state”, the PPDA program also reads.

The unionist parties: PUN and AUR

For these elections too, the unionist parties failed to find a common voice, and the reasons are questionable in terms of political pragmatism. The main parties that will compete in this segment are the Party of National Unity (PUN) and the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) which wants to strengthen its political presence also across the Prut, in the Republic of Moldova.

It should be mentioned here that AUR does not present itself, as it does in Romania, as an anti-European party, but quite the other way round. The only constant is the populism it displays both in Bucharest and in Chisinau.

On the other hand, PUN presents itself as an upright party, somewhat elitist, based on valuable people who open the party's list, but with minimum chances of obtaining the 5 percent needed to cross the electoral threshold. PUN will rather scatter the votes on the European right wing, and some of them will also reach the pro-Russian left-wing parties through redistribution.

PUN is a party that militates for the union with Romania, the EU and NATO. “The reunification of the Romanian nation, part of the Euro-Atlantic civilization, and as an integral part of the European Union and NATO, will ensure the harmonization of all societal segments (political, economic, legislative, social, educational, cultural, etc.) of the Republic of Moldova and Romania”, it is said in the preamble of the program.

The program lists in the first part all the objectives mentioned above and stresses the need to achieve them. The socio-economic elements are presented in the second part of the document proposed by PUN and its leader, the historian, teacher and former boxing champion, Octavian Ticu.

“Ensuring and increasing the quality of life by developing a social market economy, which must be at the service of society, by striking a balance between social equity and justice; between competition and solidarity; between the responsibility of the individual and social cohesion”, the PUN document stresses.

On the other hand, AUR managed to coagulate several small parties such as the Liberal Party, the Save Bessarabia Union and the Liberal Reformist Party. The strategy was for them not to join the electoral bloc, in order to make it easier for AUR to reach the electoral threshold of 5%.

It should be noted that the AUR party program in Moldova has about one page, just like that of the Shor Party mentioned earlier. Although it stands out through a nationalist discourse promoting the reunification of Romania with the Republic of Moldova, the program that would lead to this goal is a socio-economic one and populist in nature.

“A minimum salary of 6,000 lei per month (about 280 euros); child support allowances of at least 1,000 Moldovan lei per month; a minimum pension of 3,500 lei per month - net amounts after tax” AUR promises.

These promises are rather unrealistic and populist, given that, currently, the minimum wage in the Republic of Moldova is 115 euros, the child allowance is 740 Moldovan lei, and the minimum pension in the Republic of Moldova last year was 1,080 Moldovan lei.

A project supported by the Canadian Embassy in Romania, Bulgaria, and the Republic of Moldova

 

Tags: Republica Moldova

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  • PAS promises five major national goals, which are linked to the reformist agenda of President Maia Sandu. Thus, the PAS platform focuses on: a program against endemic corruption in the area of the judiciary and corruption among state officials; decently paid jobs at home with a national average salary of over 700 euros by 2025; a minimum pension of about 100 euros; the development of villages and their modernization through investments of about 100 million euros; developing relations with the European Union and attracting funds and investments from the West.
  • BeCS is counting on the Soviet nostalgia for the industrialization of the economy. “The volume of industrial production, recorded in 2020, was only 60% compared to 1989, and the share of industry in the structure of the GDP fell by half, just like the number of people employed in the industrial sector”, BeCS claims. The program also talks about increasing pensions and social benefits but does not mention how much and within which timeframe. Just like in the presidential election that he lost last fall, Dodon is building his rhetoric on anti-European, anti-Romanian and statist messages. Dodon talks about joining forces against the West and Romania, which want to destroy the Republic of Moldova.
  • Renato Usatii and his party do not have much in common with the Western democratic values, but rather with the Soviet model, with a populist discourse on the fight against corruption. In fact, in a May show on TV8, Usatii said that his vision to fight endemic corruption in the Republic of Moldova was to set up an unscrupulous “Mossad” that would catch the fugitive oligarchs, hinting at Ilan Shor and Vlad Plahotniuc. His program is based on a populist anti-system vision and the image of a Soviet-style Robin Hood that puts things in order through measures that are sometimes atypical or not necessarily law-abiding.
  • Named after the former mayor of Orhei, a former deputy and currently fugitive oligarch, after receiving a sentence of seven and a half years in the famous “one billion-dollar theft” case, the Ilan Shor Party is a populist party and a vehicle through which Ilan Shor wants to be involved in politics in order to influence the course of court proceedings in the cases he is involved in and to preserve its wealth obtained in onerous ways, especially from business with or related to the strategic objectives of the state. Its electoral program has just one page and is focused on the social area, defining itself as a left-wing party, with Soviet nostalgias, after in the past it militated for the re-establishment of collective farms in the Republic of Moldova.
  • Just like PAS, PPDA has a consistent 51-page program that comprehensively covers all priority areas of the state. PPDA claims it is a party that advocates for “a democratic, European type of state, a state governed by the rule of law and with a social market economy leading to prosperity”. In general, the messages are about the fight against corruption, the reform of the judiciary and freeing state institutions from “political captivity”.
  • For these elections too, the unionist parties failed to find a common voice, and the reasons are questionable in terms of political pragmatism. The main parties that will compete in this segment are the Party of National Unity (PUN) and the Alliance for the Union of Romanians (AUR) which wants to strengthen its political presence also across the Prut, in the Republic of Moldova. It should be mentioned here that AUR does not present itself, as it does in Romania, as an anti-European party, but quite the other way round. The only constant is the populism it displays both in Bucharest and in Chisinau.
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