NARRATIVES: Right-wing parties are corrupt and controlled by external forces. 2. A win for right-wing parties in the parliamentary election poses a risk for the Republic of Moldova.
BACKGROUND: Political disputes intensify as the Republic of Moldova is nearing the early parliamentary election. The top competitors are the left-wing Party of Socialists, led by Igor Dodon, and the right-wing Action and Solidarity Party, previously led by president Maia Sandu.
The increasingly frequent accusations of Igor Dodon, who faced Maia Sandu in the presidential runoff of November 2020, seem to be a carryover of the election campaign half a year ago.
PSRM and its affiliated media have been conveying the same messages: Maia Sandu (and PAS) is controlled by external forces and acts to the detriment of the Republic of Moldova and its citizens’ interests. Narratives also tackle social topics, such as increasing pensions and salaries, the retirement age, but also geopolitical topics, the most frequent of which is Moldova’s involvement in a war against Russia, fighting on the side of NATO/USA.
PURPOSE: To smear the image of the right-wing (Maia Sandu, PAS) in the context of the parliamentary election campaign. (indirectly) To depict PSRM as the number one political faction capable of securing better living standards for Moldovan citizens and economic development.
WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Increasing the retirement age is one of the scare tactics employed by the Socialists in case the right-wing wins the election. In December, 2020, in a highly controversial context, PSRM voted for a return to the retirement age of 57 for women and 62 for men. Under a reform voted in 2016, the retirement age was set to increase gradually to 63 for women and 64 for men. The modifications voted by PSRM are expected to take effect starting January 1, 2022. Economic pundits say PSRM’s bill has no financial basis and was not agreed upon by Moldova’s external partners, which will endanger access to external financial support.
Narratives about Western powers or philanthropist George Soros, who allegedly control right-wing politicians in Moldova, were previously used in the campaign for the presidential election, and seem to be one of the main topics in the limelight of the early parliamentary election as well. Specialized media has debunked falsehoods and disinformation that accompanied the smear campaign targeting NGOs and their funders.
The huge bank fraud in 2014 and the closing down of schools during Maia Sandu’s term in office as Education Minister are similar topics that have been used to discredit Sandu in the presidential campaign. Although the Socialists are pointing the finger, they are the ones who forged ruling coalitions with parties whose leaders (or former leaders) were the main beneficiaries of the bank fraud – the Democratic Party (Vlad Plahotniuc) and the Shor Party (Ilan Shor), according to the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Moreover, the media has proved that over 2012-2015, during which time Maia Sandu served as Education Minister in Moldova, the number of schools that were shut down was the same as in the upcoming years, the real cause being the constant reduction in the number of pupils.
GRAIN OF TRUTH: The brank fraud occurred in 2014, when the Republic of Moldova was ruled by purportedly right-wing parties.
WHO STANDS TO BENEFIT: Igor Dodon (PSRM) and (indirectly) Moscow.