At an indoor rally in Chisinau on January 10, Moldova’s former president, Mircea Snegur, and Popular Front leader Iurie Rosca launched the electoral campaign of the Democratic Convention, which they co-chair. Comprised of Snegur’s Party of Rebirth and Conciliation, the Popular Front, and three smaller groups, the Democratic Convention (DC) proposes to win the parliamentary elections scheduled for March and to form a "right-wing" government. At the inaugural rally Snegur denounced the current government as "neoCommunist, practically a continuation of the [Andrei] Sangheli government."
Repeatedly describing himself and his party as "right-wing," Snegur vowed that the DC would in the event of victory promote "radical economic reforms" and pull Moldova "away from the ex-Soviet space and toward European and Euroatlantic organizations." He further pledged "state support" to the Orthodox Church (which is separate from the state under the present constitution); described the current government as "alien to the national spirit" (i.e. not Romanian-oriented); and emphasized "spiritual integration with Romania as the only way for our people to survive." Rosca, seconding Snegur, described current president Petru Lucinschi and parties supporting him as "demagogically pro-Western but in essence Communist and pro-imperial," and predicted that the DC would come to power in March. (Flux, Basapress, January 10)
In a year-end interview with a Bucharest daily, Snegur claimed that he would have been prepared to unite Moldova with Romania in 1991, but could not do so because of opposition from the nonindigenous population and the presence of Moscow’s troops in Moldova. He called for "enlightenment work" among the Moldovan populace to facilitate a rapprochement with Romania. (Flux, December 30)
Throughout his six-year presidency, Snegur described himself as a "centrist" and sought to develop a political doctrine of "centrism" as the basis for his policies. He appointed his long-time political associate Sangheli as prime minister in 1992; and worked with him until near the end of his presidency, when Sangheli developed his own presidential ambitions. Snegur won election in 1991 as the champion of Moldovan statehood, against the Popular Front’s goal of unification with Romania. Ethnic Moldovans themselves overwhelmingly rejected that idea; but the nonindigenous population also voted massively for Snegur on that basis. As president, Snegur sought to promote the concept of "Moldovanism" in contradistinction to the Popular Front’s "Romanianism". That program reduced the Popular Front to a share of only seven percent of the popular vote in the last parliamentary elections (1994).
The Popular Front, for its part, spent five years claiming the "right-wing" mantle and denouncing Snegur as a Communist and Moscow’s man. In 1996, however, electoral calculations — which proved mistaken — prompted Snegur and the Popular Front to join forces, hoping to ensure Snegur’s reelection as president and to change the government and the constitution. The two are reenacting that strategy in the current parliamentary election campaign. The country’s continuing economic decline offers these two allies of convenience a higher chance of success.
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