Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Importance of Triviality

The Constitutional Court decided today to suspend its hearing into the Communist's petition that Mihai Ghimpu was elected illegally as Speaker. It was a close-run thing, three judges voting for continuation and three for suspension, and the process had already been allowed to continue llonger than justified by law, however the Alliance for European Integration (AIE) can chalk it up as a win over the Communist Party (PCRM). Ghimpu was legally elected as Speaker on the 2nd of November.

At its base, the decision is trivial. Had the PCRM won, all that would have happened was that the election would have be re-held and Ghimpu would have been elected speaker anyway, just at a later date. All that the Communists have gained by contesting the election is to slow down the transfer of power.

Symbolically however, the decision is hugely important. The Court has been completely obedient to Voronin over the last eight years, and singularly failed in its duty to prevent his many breaches of Moldova's highest law. Today's decision, however, shows that, despite the Swiss watches and the honours he has handed out, Voronin no longer controls the Constitutional Court.

One by one the levers of power are slipping out of Voronin's hands and he is seen to be getting weaker by the day. At some point during the next week he will lose his position as interim President. Sometime during the next month, the AIE will appoint a new Prosecutor-General and will probably succeed in freeing Teleradio Moldova from PCRM control. The AIE will also appoint a government.

Under circumstances where he is no longer able to dispense largess or to impose fear, it is very difficult to see Voronin surviving as the leader of a major party. My guess is that there will either be a coup within the Communist party that brings new leadership to power, that parts of the party will start to split off and form factions of somewhat different shades (e.g. a multi-ethnic Socialist party (Turcan, Musuc) that commits to democratic norms, or a Rusophone party (Tkaciuk, Petrenco) that has a market-oriented economic policy), or that there will be a migration to the Democratic Party.

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