Bulldogs fighting under a carpet – is how Churchill described power struggles in the Kremlin. The same could be said about current developments in Moldova, with two distinctions: here it is terriers growling under a smaller yet much more colorful rug.
For over 40 days now parties in parliament failed to build a coalition and provide the president with a name of a potential prime minister. So far, there have been several names floating around. Despite not having enough support, Liberal Democrats suggested former Prime Minister Ion Sturza and Rector of the Economic Sciences Academy Grigore Belostecinic. Inebriated by the exuberance of his own verbosity Marian Lupu dismissed the two candidates. In turn, after much speculation Democrats came with their own list of four: prominent businessman and ex-senior VP in the Democratic Party Vlad Plahotniuc; Speaker Andrian Candu; PD Chairman Marian Lupu and ex Prime Minister, currently Chairman of the European Peoples Party of Moldova Iurie Leanca. To the bewilderment of much of the society, it seems that Democrats are serious about endorsing Plahotniuc for the top spot. The other three are strong contenders, but Plahotniuc’s bid outweighs all the rest and can only be explained by his personal whim.
A politician who is calculated, at times ruthless, but almost never emotional, Plahotniuc seems to have become a victim of his own success. Apparently, drunk with the excitement of finally seeing his arch-enemy defeated, Plahotniuc wants to take the ultimate revenge by overshadowing Filat’s legacy as prime minister. Convinced of his moral superiority and exhibiting all the signs of a Napoleon complex, Plahotniuc is confident that he can do better. Ironically, he is probably right – not just because of his clout and managerial skills, but mostly because the bar has been set so low. Notwithstanding the highest negative ratings in the country, Plahotniuc is ambitious and maybe even naïve enough to think he can turn things around, including much of that hate.
To avoid early elections, parliament needs to elect a prime minister by January 29, 2016. As snap elections would inevitably become a referendum on the current political establishment, ruling parties will try to avoid it at all cost. The opposition – weak, divided, and largely controlled by the ruling parties – will not stand in the way. As the parliamentary votes are most likely there, the only obstacle to Plahotniuc’s election as PM appears to be the president, who, allegedly under PLDM pressure, refuses to nominate Plahotniuc. Annoyed, Democrats have gone so far as to suggest an impeachment. The dog fight is getting ugly indeed, even if the bone of contention is meatless.
Finally, regardless of how we individually feel about Plahotniuc or any other politician; democratic rules, or whatever is left of it in Moldova, suggest that the largest party puts forward a candidate for prime minister. Democrats have seniority this time around. If the president can be persuaded to actually nominate him and he gains at least 51 votes, Moldova will finally have a Berlusconi of its own. You never know, maybe even Putin finds a new friend, because Moldovan people certainly will. The administrative resources that came with the cabinet chairmanship, coupled with his own media empire, Plahotniuc’s ratings will inevitably go up. His well oiled machine of spin doctors will have to earn their pay. Sadly, in this context, there is little hope for advancements in the rule of law or the democratic process with or without Plahotniuc at the helm.
PS: IMHO, Democrats, Plahotniuc himself and, arguably, the country would benefit more from having either Candu or Leanca as Prime Minister. Therefore, democrats would be foolish to nominate Plahotniuc. Then again, there are no good options at this point. Hence, early elections represent the only honest way out for the current establishment. Yet, as honor and politics almost never go hand in hand, need must when the devil drives, whatever its name.