Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (50,000 members)
The Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) was started on October 8, 2007 by an initiative group headed by ex-member of the Democratic Party, Member of Parliament, Vladimir Filat. The new party placed itself in opposition to the ruling Communist Party and its political allies – PPCD and PDM. The initiative group members included: Alexandru Tanase, Mihai Godea Iulian Fruntasu, Angela Braşoveanu, Andrei Malaşevschi, Valeriu Streleţ, Vyacheslav Negruţă etc. PLDM founding congress took place on December 8, 2007, electing Filat as President, while Tanase and Godea became Senior Vice Presidents. The party congress proclaimed European integration and Euro-Atlantic cooperation as foreign policy priorities.
The second PLDM congress took place on September 27, 2008 in Balti, deciding that PLDM will participate in the April 2009 parliamentary elections, which it did and came in third after PCRM and PL with 15 seats. In July early election PLDM improved its score by getting in second only to PCRM with 18 seats. As a result, PLDM became the senior coalition partner and formed the Alliance for European Integration together with PL, PD and AMN. Party leader Vlad Filat became Prime Minister. In November 2010 early elections PLDM almost doubled its support, coming in second to PCRM, but with with 32 seats in Parliament. The Alliance for European Integration was recreated and Filat stayed Prime Minster.
At the third party congress in 2009, PLDM renounced its popular doctrine in favor of the conservative doctrine so as to avoid a mix-up with Iurie Rosca’s Christian Democratic People’s Party which was accepted into the European People’s Party (EPP) in 2005. PLDM became an observer member in the EPP in February 2011. In March 2011 Alliance Our Moldova Party merged with PLDM after the Liberal Democrats had snatched most of AMN’s supporters leading to the latter not being able to pass the threshold. PLDM thus reinforced its image as the flagship of the democratic forces in Moldova.
Even thought in power, PLDM still incurred several high profile defections. Leading lawyer Vitalie Nagacevschi left as early as 2010, followed by a (self) exile to the Constitutional Court of Justice Minister and party VP Alexandru Tanase, culminating with the other VP Mihai Godea’s defection after he had been refused the party/Filat’s endorsement to run for Chisinau mayor. All three PLDM losses were attributed in one way or another to Plahotniuc’s attempts to cripple PLDM and undermine Filat. Another senior PLDM member left quietly in august 2013, citing personal matters, only to reveal later the real reasons that prompted him to slam the door. Finance Minister Veaceslav Negruta became increasingly fed up with the back door deals carried out by his party higher-ups who then had him officially sign off on their schemes. The last straw was the covert privatization of the Savings Bank.
Following the half a year political scandal ignited by a fatal accident at a hunting spree attended by businessmen, judges and the prosecutor general, the coalition fell only to rebrand itself along the same pro-EU integration lines, but this time with Lupu, Filat and Plahotniuc on the sidelines. All three fell victim to the mutually assured destruction strategy employed by PLDM and PD during the standoff. Thus, Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca was propelled to the highest executive office replacing his party leader Filat who had been banned by the controversial Tanase chaired Constitutional Court ruling from holding the premiership. Leanca took a less confrontational stance towards his coalition partners as the government navigated the strenuous reform agenda. Yet, policy successes were limited to EU’s good will in liberalizing the visa regime, while suspicious deals to lease the airport and effectively privatize the only state bank had overshadowed the cabinet’s record.
Still, PLDM took charge of some of the most difficult portfolios like Internal Affairs, Justice, Finance, Education and Health. PLDM together with its partners embarked on a series of reforms aimed at visa liberalization with the EU as a short and medium term goal and bringing Moldova closer to Europe in the long run. Despite its short history PLDM managed to anchor itself in Moldovan politics as a leading reformist and pro-western force. Benefiting from a large group of resourceful members and a generous financial support, PLDM is an efficient organization with strong public relations outreach, yet it finds it hard at times to compete with PD/Plahotniuc’s PR conglomerate.