EDITORIAL: Does It Look Better from a Distance?
Another year has passed. 2021 is packing up and leaving. Full or empty? What are we left with because that’s what matters in the end, most of this farewell? How was it for us in 2021, what did we achieve, what didn’t, why, what didn’t happen that we wanted to happen and what happened that we didn’t want to happen? These are end-of-year questions.
2021 was not an easy year. It was an election year, with all that follows. The first thing that emerges is that 5-6 months after the election is a too short time to bring Moldova back to normality after being robbed and betrayed for 30 years in a row. It’s not as if we have to be the government’s advocates to understand this, even though the Action and Solidarity Party has repeatedly stepped out of line in these months and has taken on too much to what it can carry on its own.
The 2021 early elections, initiated and won by the Action and Solidarity Party, remain the No.1 political event of the year, currently classified by some opinion leaders as a special historical event. There were all the prerequisites for these considerations, taking into account that PAS and Maia Sandu are a first for Moldova, when the pro-European right won the elections with a majority vote, against the pro-Russian left. We know it’s been a tough political fight full of intrigues, backroom games, speculations, political relapses, with frustrations and confrontations all along the electoral front, both at home and in the diaspora. The electoral mobilization was widespread. Both on the right and the left. PAS’s stake for this election was a fundamental one: the removal of the socialist left from government and, with it, the dismantling of the political-oligarchic system they served – a pro-past, anti-national, hypocritical, and bandit system, alien to Moldova, which in 30 years has only taken root like a heavy and evil disease in the body of Moldova
It was the longest (undeclared, it’s true) and most turbulent election campaign in Moldova since 1990. The start of the campaign (and this was the incitement to the duel of Igor Dodon and the socialists by Maia Sandu) was given immediately after winning the presidential elections, on November 15, 2020, when Sandu openly declared that the first step towards the demolition of the system had been taken, the second step follows: early parliamentary elections and the takeover of the Parliament and the Government. The year 2021 was to become for Moldova, according to PAS, the beginning of great changes and improvements, with “good people” in power and “good times”, with “clean” institutions, with thieves in jail, with undeclared wealth confiscated, without corruption and corrupts, with fair justice, comfortable living, secured old age…
PAS has been very persuasive and exciting in its election messages and immediate post-election messages. It was not as convincing in what it was supposed to do afterward. Corruption remains a problem, as it was, justice remains unreformed, the big corruption cases are rotting in the prosecutor’s drawers, the big fugitives on international wanted lists remain at large, the illicitly enriched remain inviolable, poverty persists, prices and tariffs are rising, disappointments are rising, life expectancy is falling, the exodus is rising… The fact that more than 15% of Moldovan citizens (every third between the ages of 20 and 25) are expected to leave Moldova in the next few years is not just a statistic, but also a response to the way Moldova is governed. “Around 25% of employees have a maximum salary twice as low (just over 200 euros) as the average wage in the economy”. “Mrs. Maia Sandu, please, you promised pensions to the people, jobs, but nothing is done… Diesel has become expensive, we are left with only promises…”. And we can go on and on, with the same reference to PAS, because everything that is happening in Moldova today is primarily about PAS. Whether for good or bad. Because they govern.
There are, however, at least two things for which PAS is worth noting. First: the courage to stand up to the resistance of the mastodons of Moldovan politics and to go ahead with early elections (the beginning of the demolition of the old mafia-Soviet system). Second: bringing Moldova out of international isolation and relaunching the partnership with the West on a larger scale than ever before. But PAS has too quickly damaged its relations with former and possibly new cooperation partners at home. The PAS leadership didn’t take into consideration that for a successful government (in the context of the fight against an indoctrinated and corrupt system) it would need good partners and partnerships not only abroad, but also at home. Is PAS afraid to team with others? Even if things are going well and even very well in the relationship with the West, the lack of relations and isolation at home is not good for governance. Especially as PAS is outperforming in the polls and Dodon is mobilizing and preparing for a comeback.
And finally, something more optimistic: Moldova has been nominated by the prestigious magazine “The Economist” for the “country of the year” award. The award is given annually to the country that has improved its image the most over the year. Moldova is cited for being “one of the poorest countries in Europe and has long been a center for Russian money laundering. But in late 2020, it elected as president Maia Sandu, an anti-corruption campaigner, and in 2021 handed her party control of Parliament”, notes The Economist. Does it look better from a distance?