Monday, August 24, 2009

A chance for Lupu and Diacov to earn their spurs

As I commented on Friday, Vladimir Voronin has decided to play hardball with the AIE (Alliance for European Integration). Following a party meeting on Saturday, the communists have decided to not even recognise the existence of the AIE, portraying it as a heterogenous amalgam of 'lilliputian' parties. The communist go further to claim that, as the largest party in Parliament it is they that should be at the centre of any coalition government. Now they plan to set about negotiating with each opposition party separately, to try to obtain the votes necessary to govern (3) and to elect a president (13).

Personally I think this initiative is doomed to failure. After all of Voronin's name-calling and intimidation, the three liberal parties won't have a bar of it. They have already proved their integrity by standing firm prior to the June 3 presidential vote. They will insist on the PCRM talking to the AIE as a whole.

Which leaves the Democrats. The leadership of this party has a chequered history. Lupu is a former communist and stood alongside Voronin as he committed some of his worst excesses. Diacov and Serebrian have proven to be 'purchaseable' in the past (e.g. both voted for Voronin's election in 2005). The communists quite predictably think they will be able to get some votes out of this party.

I have to say that I don't think they have a hope of getting 13 votes, as a vote in support of a communist presidency is political suicide in Moldova. They could get three, however, and that would create a significant problem for the AIE, pushing them back into opposition in Parliament and delaying the democratisation process.

Lupu and Diacov need to stand firm. They have signed a coalition agreement with the liberal parties. They need to stick with it and ensure that all the Democrat deputies do likewise. If they do, they will partially redeem for their past failings and prove themselves worthy of electoral support. If, on the other hand, they allow votes to leak to the communists, their political careers (as non-communist politicians) are over.

Oh, by the way, I don't think the AIE should be entirely on the defensive either. Signs are that Voronin is losing the backing of the Russian leadership. His refusal to dialog won't go down well in either Brussels or Washington. If Moldova goes to fresh elections in 2010, there is a good chance the communists will be decimated. Communist deputies must be getting nervous about their futures, and some may be willing to cut a deal with the AIE, even if Voronin isn't.

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