NARRATIVES: 1. Pro-Western parties will destabilize the Republic of Moldova if they win the election, and the country will face economic difficulties. 2. Society is unhappy with pro-Western parties and protests will be staged.
BACKGROUND: In the context of the election campaign in the Republic of Moldova, the number of attacks and fake news about election opponents has gone up. The favorite targets are pro-Western parties, particularly the Action and Solidarity Party and its founder, president Maia Sandu. The harshest attacks and the most blatant fake news are coming from the pro-Russian wing, particularly PSRM, a party openly backed by the Kremlin.
PSRM previously controlled the presidency, Parliament, the Government and the judiciary in the Republic of Moldova, and continues to exert considerable sway over state affairs, which it risks losing amidst the growing influence of PAS after Maia Sandu won the presidential election in November, 2020, to the detriment of Socialist Igor Dodon.
In the current campaign for the parliamentary election, the Socialists have picked up on their past rhetoric and narratives, which they aggressively promoted in the previous election campaign. The prominent message is that the West is trying to take control over the Republic of Moldova by means of pro-democratic and pro-Western parties. The narrative has been advocated by Russian high-ranking officials, who are openly interefering in the election campaign in the Republic of Moldova. It is also a response to a strong message of support for Maia Sandu’s reform and anticorruption agenda conveyed by Western governments.
PURPOSE: The narratives are aimed at destabilizing the country ahead of the parliamentary election and undermining voters’ trust in pro-European parties and in the country’s pro-Western development track.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Igor Dodon’s statements lack any factual basis, they are mere speculation coming from the political left wing. Pro-European parties have been promoting closer relations with the European Union, which upholds the rule of law and the modernization of the Republic of Moldova by means of various programs and financial investments.
The enactment of the Association Agreement with the European Union is the top foreign policy priority in the Republic of Moldova. The very name of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration is telling of the development track the Republic of Moldova has pledged to observe. The European Union is the Republic of Moldova’s largest trade partner, accounting for nearly 70% of Moldovan exports. Apart from the latest financial assistance worth tens of millions of Euro aimed at helping combat the pandemic, the European Commission on June 2, 2021, adopted an Economic Recovery Plan for the Republic of Moldova for the next three years, worth some 600 million Euro. The Plan was launched as a result of president Maia Sandu’s talks in Brussels during her visit in January.
On the other hand, Dodon’s plea for closer relations with Russia and the Eurasian Union goes against Moldova’s official foreign policy directives. Moldova’s observer status in the Eurasian Economic Union, dominated by the Russian Federation, provides no partnerships or agreements that the Republic of Moldova relies on and has brought zero benefits in terms of concrete economic growth. The Republic of Moldova already has bilateral relations with states in the Eurasian Union. Whereas economic relations with the Russian Federation are traditionally important, this cooperation remains unpredictable, being shaped by the Kremlin’s political interests and used to politically bludgeon and blackmail the Republic of Moldova in order to maintain Chişinău in Russia’s sphere of geopolitical influence.