The Democratic Party of Moldova (60,000 members)
PD has its roots in the centrist social-political movement “For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova” (MpMDP) founded on 8 February 1997 upon the initiative of that time president Petru Lucinschi with Dumitru Diacov as chairman. Following the 1998 parliamentary elections, MpMDP enters the Parliament and Diacov is elected Speaker. MpMDP was part of the Alliance for Democracy and Reforms (ADR) – the first coalition government in the history of the country. ADR fell apart in December 1999 as the Christian Democratic Popular Front withdrew from the alliance and together with PCRM voted Ion Sturza’s government out.
On 15 April 2000, MpMDP was reorganized into the Democratic Party of Moldova (PD) while Diacov remained chairman. In May 2004, the Democratic Party, Alliance Our Moldova (AMN) and the Social Liberal Party (PSL) created the Electoral Bloc Democratic Moldova (BMD) – the main opposition to PCRM. Shortly after the accession to parliament BMD ceased to exist. PD formed its own faction of eight MPs and after PSL merged with PD in February 2008, the faction reached 11 members. In 2007, PD was accepted to the International Socialist. In March 2007, PD was joined by a group of Social Democratic Party (PSDM) members led by Oazu Nantoi, founder and former President of PSDM. In September 2007 Vlad Filat Vice President of PD along with a group of colleagues left the party to form a new political project. As a result PD failed to accede to Parliament during the April 2009 elections.
The 19 of July 2009 PD Congress marked the party’s renaissance as the former Speaker Marian Lupu and his team (Lazar, Corman, Popov, Jantuan) along with many former PCRM members and several regional organizations of the Social Democratic Party joined. Lupu was unanimously elected as chairman and Diacov became Honorary President. The party gained 13 parliament seats in the July 2009 election and 15 seats after the November 2010 election. Meanwhile, infamous businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc joined in and became deputy chairman of PD bringing along his own team (Candu, Filip, Botnari, Apolschi). PD is part of the Alliance for European Integration II, but also negotiated with PCRM immediately after the elections.
Democratic Party positions itself as a center left social democratic party. PD’s doctrine is based on the principles of the German welfare state model and Swedish type socialism. Among the two currents of European social democracy that emerged in the 90s: traditionalists and reformers, PD is more inclined to follow the reformist line set by the Blair-Schroeder Declaration of 1999 entitled “Europe: The Third Way”.
PD is aiming at taking over some of the PCRM electorate and therefore promotes a rather leftist economic agenda and a somewhat pro-Russian foreign policy. Its leaders have advocated a basic and a border treaty with Romanian, thus showcasing their allegiance to the agenda of Moldovan sovereignty defenders. PD has also tried to dissociate itself from its Alliance partners, by having a separate opinion on numerous issues, thus trying to rally some of those dissatisfied with the current government who might otherwise vote to PCRM.
Democrats have been handicapped from the start by the size of their faction, which is way smaller than their ambitions are. Playing second fiddle to PLDM has been very frustrating, especially as PLDM was not making it any easier. Still, democrats often managed to twist PLDM’s arm into accepting whatever Plahotniuc was up to. Even after the humiliation of being dismissed for corruption and a vicious name calling exchange with Plahotniuc (Filat referred to him as puppet master and rat; Plahotniuc called him smuggler-in-chief), Filat felt compelled to mend relations with Plahotniuc and made him several legislative concessions, only to see himself banned by the Court from holding the premier’s office. Faced with a vicious PLDM driven smear campaign that took a tall not only on his image, but also on that of the party, Plahotniuc left Parliament with a rather odd excuse – to seek closer ties to the people. He since then vanished from the public eye, making rare appearances on his TV channels mainly in connection with some charity event. With Plahotniuc out of the picture and Lupu having failed to be elected president and no longer in the Speaker’s office following the “huntingate” scandal, it is the new democrat faces of Speaker Igor Corman (Lupu’s protégé) and Economy Minister Andrian Candu (Plahotniuc’s protégé) that are taking PD forward, hoping to whitewash some of those bad memories associated with PD’s recent as well as past political record.
Still, the party is positioning itself, and for good reason, as the middle ground, compromise oriented, foreign policy balanced, in a word – centrist, catch all party. In a polarized society like Moldova, a call for moderation often falls on deaf years. Yet, it is always worth trying to bring people closer to the center even if it means an ideologically blurred and politically ambiguous proposition. That will, however, doom PD to a limited role in national politics. Moderation has never been a winning strategy in politics, especially a kind of moderation that is often perceived as a front or just another vehicle for group interests.