The collapse of Moldova’s governing coalition (in office from June to November 2019) puts an end to joint governance by political and cultural opposites—an experiment unprecedented for fractured Moldova and without par in contemporary Europe (see Part One in EDM, November 13). Yet, the coalition of the Socialist Party and the ACUM (“NOW”) bloc did not collapse over national identity, ideological, or geopolitical issues—none of which came seriously into play within or outside the coalition. Rather, the coalition fell apart over conflicting conceptions about rule of law and the integrity of state institutions.
This short-lived, Socialist-ACUM coalition was the most broadly representative political construction in Moldova’s post-1991 history. The coalition’s composition reflected all the currents of opinion extant in Moldova’s splintered society and political system: Western-oriented and Russia-oriented, Moldovan/Romanian-speaking and “Russian-speaking” groups (most members of which are not Russians), Romanianists and Moldovanists, as well as Europhiles, Russophiles, and Romanian irredentists, left-wing, centrist, right-wing—all in the local-specific understanding of those terms, which often require quotation marks for relativization. Yet, beyond all these nuances, Moldova’s electorate is enduringly divided roughly evenly between the Western and the Russian orientations. This stubborn division significantly contributed to frustrating the erstwhile ambitions to fast-track Moldova’s European integration. When the ACUM bloc took over the government by agreement with the Socialist Party to implement the European Union Association Agreement, an unprecedented chance to integrate both halves of Moldova’s society into a common political construction seemed at hand. But the experiment and the chance ended when President Igor Dodon’s Socialist Party embarked on concentrating formal and informal powers at the cost of the rule of law…
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