Moldova’s New Government: Still on a Knife-Edge
Posted by democratist on December 27, 2010
27th December 2010,
The month following the 28th November 2010 parliamentary elections in Moldova has proved fascinating in terms of Moldova’s own domestic coalition-building, but equally because the EU and Russia have both been jockeying, more or less openly, to influence that process.
With the first session of the new parliament due to take place tomorrow, and the election results finally approved by the constitutional court, horse-trading among the parliamentary political parties has reached fever pitch over the last couple of days.
The situation is on a knife-edge, and hard to predict, but following a period of several weeks during which it seemed that Marian Lupu’s Democratic Party might be able to form a coalition with the Communists (PCRM), those talks have stalled, and the main focus appears to have shifted back towards the reestablishment of the Alliance for European Integration (AIE), which has ruled the country since September 2009.
Although rarely reported in the mainstream Western press, these recent negotiations in Moldova have been closely observed by both EU and Russian diplomats; a Communist MP until 2009, Lupu has always been markedly more pro-Russian than the other two AIE leaders, and the PCRM themselves have retained their traditional pro-Russian stance with leader Vladimir Voronin stating in early December that Moldova might accede to Russia’s proposed customs union (as Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus recently agreed to do), as well as engage in a “deeper strategic partnership,” should the PCRM manage to form a coalition.
As such, it was hardly a surprise that Russian presidential chief of staff Sergey Nariskin visited Chisinau a few days later, offering cheaper gas and a resumption of banned Moldovan wine imports if the parties were able to form a pro-Moscow government.
Meanwhile, the EU have also played their hand in the form of a subsequent visit by Swedish and Polish Foreign Ministers Carl Bildt and Radek Sikorski, apparently designed to shore-up support for a pro-EU coalition.
Bildt is reported as having later commented, “What there is on the European agenda for Moldova is the association agreement. If you look at what the Moldovan economy needs, it is deep and comprehensive free trade with the EU. That is what can over time lead to a better development of what is today the poorest country in Europe. I’m not saying that cheap gas is bad, but economies and prosperity can’t be built on cheap gas.”
So both sides have mapped out their visions of Moldova’s future. Democratist (unsurprisingly) recommends the adoption of the European model as the best option for eventual political and economic reform, but the situation remains fluid, and coalition negotiations could still go either way.