The promise of a democratic Moldova: how Maia Sandu financed the Action and Solidarity Party
Formerly known as Bessarabia and later historically called Moldavia, located between Ukraine and Romania, and representing land contested since the XIV century, Moldova has a history of nationwide challenges before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, followed by the country’s declaration of independence and its proclamation as the Republic of Moldova on August 27, 1991, then joining the Commonwealth of Independent Countries. the same year, and being recognized by the United Nations and becoming a member in 1992. With 30 years of independence, Moldova currently operates as a mixed economy based mainly on agriculture. The country has also established regular relations with the European Union, having signed the Association Agreement with the EU in June 2014. In November of the same year, a corruption scandal involving the Moldovan government of the The era, with Nicolae Timofti as president and Iurie Leanca as prime minister – has broken out. To date, with two presidential elections between that date and today, information regarding those responsible for the scandal has not become official.
The winning candidate of the second presidential election, held on November 1, 2020, is President Maia Sandu, the first presidential candidate in Moldova. Unlike her rival and former president Igor Dondon, Maia Sandu is pro-European and wants to get closer to the European Union. As part of such a program, the President made her first official state visit to Austria since the start of her Presidency in the third full week of October 2021; the President having participated in press conferences and held meetings with Austrian officials, including Austrian President Van der Bellen. On the morning of October 22, 2021, she met Emil Brix, Austrian diplomat, historian and director of the Vienna School of International Studies, to explain to her in detail why she decided to run for president and how she financed her political life. . party, the Action and Solidarity Party. Speaking with Emil Brix, Maia Sandu also described the challenges Moldova faces during the transition to an independent state.
âI have to say that from the start I had no intention of becoming a politician. I started as a civil servant very soon after Moldova’s independence, so I witnessed the transition of the Republic of Moldova, which never stops, and I witnessed the reforms that the country has implemented over the years – the first 10 years of transition, trying all kinds of experiences, and then the big poverty indicators that we achieved at the end of the first decade of transition.
The president went on to explain what the implications of such a situation were for the country’s economy at the time: âIn 1999, 70 percent of Moldovans were below the poverty line. So what happened at the beginning is the things that we have to learn and take into account even now. Moldova was, [since] the beginning, obtaining some of the freedoms; so it built democratic processes, but in terms of economic development, things did not go very wellâ¦ And that is why after several years of experimentation, in the early 2000s, people decided to come back to back when poverty has reached incredible levels. , and people decided to vote for the Communist Party.
President Maia Sandu spoke openly about her career in economics and her former role at the World Bank, further explaining how the creation of the Action and Solidarity Party was funded.
With the aim of ending corruption at the highest levels, the president stressed the importance of eradicating corruption at the first stage of any presidency, when forming a political party. “What we must do now is apply the legislation on the financing of the political party in a transparent and legal manner” – his voice reminded us.
Continuing on, Madam President declared: âNow we have proven that in Eastern Europe you can create a political party financed in a totally transparent and legal way; and this is what should happen vis-Ã -vis other political parties, because corruption begins in politics. If you use a lot of money, dirty money, money stolen from the state to fund your political party, then when you get into high level positions you are trying to get your money back, which means implement bribery schemes to recover your so-called investment.
Little talk, little money – Big actions
In addition to these statements, Maia Sandu explained how her party was funded in a fascinating way: âWe created the first political party funded legally and transparently. When I went out for the first time, I went to see people to tell them that we want to create a political party because you are asking us to create a political party, but it will take small donations for the party to exist. “
The president explained that it was not easy to get donors in the beginning for a number of reasons: âPeople got mad at me. They said ‘wait a minute’. You want to be in politics and you
do you want us to pay for this? Because until then – and that was in 2015, 2016 – people in Moldova did not know where the money for political parties would come from. They weren’t, you know, their interest. But then we started to educate them. And initially, political party contributions came from retirees – those with a pension of less than 50 euros a month – and they came to donate because everyone was afraid of the government. To make donations, we would make everything transparent. So we [would] publish the list of donors, and if you work for the state and donate to our party, you [would] be fired. If you have a business and you donate to our political party, they will send the tax inspector and the rest to harass you. Thus, the only free people in Moldova were the pensioners; and we started to create the political party with the retirees.
The president also added that the volunteers made the creation of the party possible: âWe didn’t know it was going to be so difficult, we had no experience, we had no money, we had no media coverage. and supportâ¦ So just to tell you how things developed, we have established that party people have come to register to be party members. But then, for four years, the party had only one employee because we could pay the salary of only one employee. Everything else was volunteer work, as if some people were volunteering full time, spending all their savings. And it was not easy too because it was the time of the worst authoritarian and corrupt regime in Moldovaâ¦ â
The President continued: “But this is how we worked: on the one hand to be in the street, protest against the regime against its authoritarian and democratic decisions and actions, and on the other hand to go village by village to talk. to people explaining why the country is in such a bad situation because of these big corruption schemes.
Throughout the conference, President Maia Sandu emphasized her determination to improve living and working conditions in Moldova, with a strong emphasis on stopping corruption.