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April 20, 2021

The loosing card of communism

For over one year and a half now the Republic of Moldova has been in a prolonged political crisis. The violent protest in Chisinau, in the spring of 2009, eventually led to the last communist regime in Europe being overturned just as it was preparing for a third term in office. A new anti-communist parliamentary majority stemming from new election formed the government, without being able to elect a president though. It tried to abolish the parliamentary republic by public referendum which was invalidated by a low turnout. The parties of the alliance are running in this coming election individually, enough reason for anxiety among people fearing a communist restoration. There are also good reasons for such fears, as the former communist party led by Marian Lupu is not ruling out a possible post-election co-operation with its former political comrades, also considering its leader’s presidential aspirations. However, the reasons of the anachronic success of communism in R. Moldova are not accidental or circumstantial. The traditional communist electorate is supported by two reliable pillars: the ethnic minorities (making up a quarter of the population) and the retired population living to the downmost limit of poverty. The weight of the latter category, considerably consisting of pro-Soviet nostalgic, is enhanced by the major migration wave of young labour force to the West which accounts for a de facto demographic ‘aging’. Under these conditions, Moldovan communism is just a guise for the philorussian and gerontophil pseudo-leftism. A successful capitalist, the president of the communist and the former head of state speculated, just as Ion Iliescu did in early 1990s, on the myth of the welfare state set in contrast with the unknowns of the free market. All that is completed by the notable percentage of rural population, known as more conservative. The main standard of the non-communist parties is no longer Romanian or Moldovan nationalism as it used to be at the times of the People’s Front, but the European or Euro-Atlantic prospects. The situation has been made even more difficult by the two decades of Transdniester conflict with a decisive involvement on Russia’s part, pursuing evident geo-strategic interests in the region.

But the Moldovans’ European dream has one very specific drive: the prospect of emerging out of poverty, for the country is running in the tail of the European platoon. R. Moldova is the main source of European prostitution. The poverty, the mainly rural demographic structure, the massive economic migration, the inter-ethnic tensions, regional separatism, cultural and linguistic competition make up a mix of issues rendering recovery difficult. In a strictly political way, medium-term developments depend on the risk Marian Lupu’s Democratic Party would be willing to take in setting up an alliance with the communists. It would weaken its credibility and re-launch anti–communist rhetoric. The coalition government of the last year has managed to reinstate normality in a number of dossiers which were a burden on the country’s relations with Romania and the EU, representing an electoral capital that cannot be dismissed. It has also initiated a programme of domestic reforms – quite meaningful after almost ten years of anachronic communism stagnation. Remaking the alliance with the communists can only turn into a loosing card sooner or later.

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