Sunday, April 19, 2009

Color Wars

A response to Cristina Batag's article in 'Foreign Policy' (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=4871)

"the ruling Communist party helped consolidate democracy". This is nonsense. While it is true that the communist party's rule coincided with a period of economic stability, the country has been sliding backwards with respect to political pluralism, press freedom and human rights. Media outlets which do not toe the party line have had their licences revoked or have been forced into the ownership by parties close to the authorities. The main state-owned channels have become propaganda outlets as in Soviet times. Torture has returned as a standard practice of the Moldovan police. Cities and towns with opposition mayors and councils have been starved of funds. etc. etc.

"the instigators of the current fracas seek to integrate with Europe by rejoining Romania". Video and photographic evidence (e.g. policemen breaking up rocks for the protesters to throw, instigators speaking on their mobiles in Russian) has proved that the instigators of the current fracas were the communist party itself, acting together with the police, secret services and with its allies from the Christian Democratic party. In the morning of the 7th of April, 30,000 students peacefully took to Chisinau's central square to denounce the rigged elections and demand the end of communist government. It wasn't about unification Romania - that ethnic, almost racist, dimension was overlaid by the Moldovan and Russian governments later in the day when the infamous 'boy in yellow' (now shown to be on the SIS payroll), planted a Romanian flag on the roof of the parliament and presidency buildings, with police assistance.

"the vast majority of the country continues to trust the communists". More nonsense. The most recent opinion poll taken prior to the election gave the communists 36% support. Given the climate of fear that exists in the country the true support is likely to be lower by between 5-10%, as it was at the 2005 election. Since when did 30% constitute a 'vast majority'?

"the failure of Moldova's liberal parties to govern the country successfully". Ms Batog claims that liberal parties were in power from independence in 1991 through to 2001. It is true that Moldova's first post-independence government, led by Mircea Snegur, was truly liberal, and won plaudits the world over for its economic and political reforms (many of which are still in place today). Unfortunately this government was confronted with the twin disasters of (1) post-soviet economic collapse, and (2) the Russian-sponsored secession of Transnistria, severely limiting the results it was able to achieve. This liberal administration was replaced in 1996 (with communist support) by the 'agrarians' of Petru Lucinskii. This was a self-serving group of former soviet apparatchiks who presided over a period of truly dire government. To describe this group as 'liberal' in any way is scandalous. The three liberal parties contesting the 2009 election come out of the tradition of the Snegur government rather than the Lucinskii one.

"The Communist Party received 49.48 percent of the vote, due to its excellent grass-roots campaign and strong organization". Yet more nonsense. As mentioned above, the Communist's received 36% support in the most recent opinion poll. Estimates of their true level of support in the recent election (adjusted to remove the effect of rigging) also come in at about this level. Even the 36% level is artificial, being achieved on the back of the party's almost total dominance of the media and on the back of unsustainable election promises to increase pensions. It should also be noted that for the first time in its history, the Communist party faced a seriously well-organised rival in the form of Vlad Filat's liberal democrat party and their simple but effective 'green for Moldova' message.

"there is no strong, united political force leading the Moldovan protests". As stated above, the violent part of the protests was orchestrated by the communists themselves. The protest on April 7th was more or less spontaneous, organised by pro-democracy NGOs. The protest on April 12th was organised by the three main opposition parties, who have been acting in concert ever since the announcement of the election results.

"the opposition should accept that it lost the elections fairly". For starters, the opposition didn't lose. After eliminating the dead-souls, unborn voters and multiple voting by communist acolytes, the three main opposition parties combined actually won 43-44% of the vote compared to the communists' 36%. Why should the people of Moldova have to put up with another four years of totalitarian rule when in fact they voted for change? Who in the US would accept such a situation?

I agree with the author that a colour revolution is not in order. The thing is, this wasn't a revolution until the communists tried to frame it as one. It was simply 30,000 young people protesting against the theft of their votes and the theft of their future.

What actually needs to happen now is the installation of wither a national unity government or an EU-protectorate (a la Bosnia). This would facilitate the re-running of elections in a truly free and fair environment, one in which the communist's stranglehold over the media is broken and their use of state resources in campaigning is outlawed.

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