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Moldova: The Right Faces The Center In Electoral Contest

  • Michael Shafir

Prague, 16 March 1998 (RFE/RL) -- In the Moldovan parliamentary elections scheduled for next week, the main force on the Right is the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), an alliance set up last year. Its main components are the PRRM and the Christian Democratic Popular Front (FPCD).

Some may choose to view the CDM with sarcasm, since CDM co-chairman former president Mircea Snegur and the FPCD were bitter enemies back in 1994, when Snegur opted for the road of "Moldovanism," and the FPCD remained true to its pro-Romanian, unionist stance. Others may see Snegur's alliance with the FPCD as the "homecoming" of the former president, who in 1990 had left behind his communist identity (chairman of the Moldovan Supreme Soviet in July 1989, Central Committee secretary since 1985) and allied himself with the pro-independence and pro-Romanian Popular Front. Snegur has not fully shifted back to a pro-Romanian unionist position, but Iurie Rosca, another co-chairman of the CDM, has apparently decided to follow the "Romanian model" in setting up the convention.

Like the Democratic Convention of Romania, the CDM sees its main purpose in replacing the "vestiges of communism" an put temporarily aside differences among its leaders and component groups. The FPCD has thus put off reunification with Romania as a main priority, though the CDM wants closer links with Bucharest and a faster pace of integration in the European Union. It also insists that it is the only group with considerable weight capable of guaranteeing an acceleration of the privatization process and cutting off the ties that link President Lucinschi (a former Central Committee secretary in Moscow under Gorbachev) to CIS and Russia in general.

Other parties on the Right of the political spectrum, are the Party of Democratic Forces (PFD) led by Valeriu Matei and the Alliance of Democratic Forces Bloc (BAFD) set up by the National Peasant Party and the National Liberal Party. Their electoral chances are uncertain. The CURS-IMAS poll put support for the PFD at 15 percent and for the BAFD at 11 percent. The Opinia poll also credits the PFD with 15 percent, but puts the BAFD bellow the electoral threshold -- enough to make any prediction on a post-electoral government coalition formed by parties of the Right hazardous at best.

The CDM, on the other hand, has been running a close second to the communists in polls, being backed by 18 percent of the respondents to the CURS-IMAS poll and by nearly 20 percent in the Opinia survey. It may well be the fact that the CDM has moderated its position on unification with Romania that explains why it leads the field among Rightist parties.

Polls in Moldova have consistently shown that a solid majority does not favor reunification, regardless of where it may be standing on other political divisions. And while the separatist Transdniestrian demands find little backing on the left of river Dniester, Moldovans are in general willing to go a long way towards accommodating the fears of the non-Romanian (non-"Moldovan") minorities, be they Russian, Ukrainian, Gagauz or other.

The victory of the right is seen by President Petru Lucinschi as prone to produce an undesirable "confrontational situation" between himself and the parliament.

For lack of a better definition, parties backing President Petru Lucinschi can be considered to be "Centrist." The Center is aware of the need to promote reforms, yet obviously also aware that large chunks of the electorate oppose them. And it builds on Lucinschi's popularity and the widespread belief that his links to Moscow will, at the end, bring about a "reasonable" settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, one that, while preserving the country's territorial integrity, would accommodate its large Slavic and particularly Russian (nearly 13 percent-strong) population.

The pro-presidential For a Democratic Prosperous and Moldova Bloc (PMDP), set up right after Lucinschi's victory in the late 1996 elections and led by Dumitru Diacov, is the most prominent among these parties.

Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc, mentioned by Lucinschi as his preferred candidate to head the governmnet after the elections, is a PMDP member. The PMDP, as well as other pro-presidential groups, is in favor of transforming the system of government from a parliamentary into a presidential one -- a rather dangerous proposition in a state lacking strong democratic traditions.

Other pro-presidential lists running in the March elections are the Social Democratic Bloc "Speranta" (Hope) and the Civic Alliance "Furnica" (Ant). None of them is likely to emerge as the strong faction in the legislature, and there is even doubt that all three will make it to that forum. The PMDP, according to the CURS-IMAS poll, enjoys the backing of nine percent of the population, while the Opinia poll credited it with some 10 percent.

Perhaps the most colorful among the latter formations is the Party of Social and Economic Justice, headed by Maricica Levitschi. Last week (March 13), 16 would-be candidates on the list headed by Levitschi left the party, protesting that Levitschi has been trying to bribe the electorate by distributing humanitarian aid received from abroad, among which they counted condoms and contraceptive tablets. They also said that Levitschi had forced them to swear on the Bible everlasting political fidelity. She should have known that in politics there is no such things, least of all in Moldovan politics, where everything is still in political flux.