Sandu Sweep: Moldova Reformist Revolution May Actually Happen
Last year's election of reformist president Maia Sandu was the first step. But now the anti-graft, pro-Europe forces are about to dominate the Parliament. But what will it look like on the ground?
CHISINAU — Moldovan President Maia Sandu and her Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) are confident that they can turn this week's parliamentary election victory into real reform. Yet for some political players, including former president Igor Dodon, this itself is reason to worry about their fate.
On July 11 it was clear that the results from the parliamentary elections in Moldova held the potential to be truly historic for the Eastern European country. The gap between PAS and all other participants in this parliamentary race was getting larger with every passing hour of ballot counting. According to the preliminary data, the PAS could count as many as 63 seats out of 101, the Communists and Socialists 32, and the Shor Party on 6.
PAS is four seats short of a constitutional majority that would allow it to change the basic laws of the country.
The fight against the pervasive corruption in Moldova is at the top of the agenda
A Kommersant source close to PAS says that there is a debate within the party about whether the country needs major constitutional amendments. And although this isn't the first item on the agenda now, there are several places where the necessary votes from the other parties could be added. The bloc of communists and socialists is in many respects an artificial construction. The former presidents Vladimir Voronin and Igor Dodon do not like each other, to put it mildly. If the "red bloc" between the two parties doesn't survive, the ten Communists in Parliament will become an independent group and could be seen by PAS as a reserve of additional votes, should they be needed.
The fight against the pervasive corruption in Moldova is at the top of the agenda of the victorious PAS and President Sandu, who was elected last year on a reformist platform. The biggest problems are in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, courts and prosecutors.
Igor Grosu's supporters celebrate his victory in Moldovan parliamentary elections in Chisinau — Photo: Diego Herrera/SOPA Images/ ZUMA Wire
Prosecutor General Alexander Stoianoglo, who took office in 2019, called corruption "a threat to national security" and complained that it is difficult to fight. He did not spare even his subordinates. "Prosecutors do not want to investigate cases against prosecutors, and if they take them, these cases fall apart," Stoianoglo told Kommersant.
Natalia Gavrilița, deputy chairman of the PAS and one of Sandu's closest associates, says that the ruling party intends to keep its promise to voters and launch a war on corruption. "We will adopt strict laws on political corruption, we will remove the immunity of deputies and the president in corruption cases," she said.
Prosecutor General Alexander Stoianoglo, who took office in 2019, called corruption ‘a threat to national security"
This news could disturb many, including former President Dodon, who has immunity. All of Moldova remembers the video that surfaced last year where the once powerful and now fugitive oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc tries to give a black bag to Dodon, who was president at the time. Dodon doesn't touch it but utters the phrase: "You again with the bags. Give it to Kosta, and tomorrow he will give it to Cornel because tomorrow I have a flight at five o'clock. He has to pay my salary on Monday."
Gavrilița, who many expect will be named prime minister, said she and her colleagues also plan to initiate justice reform that will include the external evaluation of prosecutors and judges. "External experts will be brought in to evaluate their decisions, the quality of decisions, incorruptibility," she explained. "We will look to see if expenditures match revenues. We will cleanse the state and its institutions from corrupt and mafia elements."
Beyond the constitutional and anti-corruption reform, the new government will also focus on economic growth, job creation and pension reform, especially in light of recovery money expected from the European Union.
Igor Botsan, a Moldovan political analyst, believes that the EU can significantly help the country if the new government shows results in the reform of the judicial system and improving the business climate. "Maia Sandu has proved that she is accepted in Europe," Botsan said. "And for Europe, it is very easy to help: Moldova's economy is 0.03% of the EU economy."