Moldavia - the moment of truth

The landslide victory of the Communist Party of Moldavia in the recent parliamentary elections has a great significance for all the former republics of the Soviet Union. It is the first time that a 'Communist Party' has managed to take power on the territory of what was the USSR. The high voter turnout makes the success even more impressive. With 71 out of 101 seats in Parliament, the Communist Party can, at least formally, do anything that it wants to: appoint the President of the country, change the constitution, and pass any laws that it wishes. However, the 'Communists', who have come to power in one of the poorest countries in Europe, face serious economic and political problems. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the moment of truth for Vladimir Voronin and his party.

The landslide victory of the Communist Party of Moldavia in the recent parliamentary elections has a great significance for all the former republics of the Soviet Union. It is the first time that a 'Communist Party' has managed to take power on the territory of what was the USSR.

The high voter turnout makes the success even more impressive. With 71 out of 101 seats in Parliament, the Communist Party can, at least formally, do anything that it wants to: appoint the President of the country, change the constitution, and pass any laws that it wishes. However, the 'Communists', who have come to power in one of the poorest countries in Europe, face serious economic and political problems.

It is not an exaggeration to say that this is the moment of truth for Vladimir Voronin and his party. Privatisation in Moldavia has gone much further than in most of the other countries of the CIS. Western capital, especially French, now owns the key sectors of the national economy.

The question to be asked, however, is: can the 'Communist Party of the Republic of Moldavia' lead the country out of the extreme poverty it now finds itself in? Yes, obviously it can, say the CPRM leaders, but there are certain necessary preconditions for this to happen.

The solution of the national question within the framework of a bi-lingual (or even multi-lingual) state would mean the reintegration of the manufacturing industry of Kishinev with the energy industry and factories in the Trans-Dniester region. In itself, the legal recognition of the economy of this region would, in fact, bring Moldavia profound benefits. Reopening relations with Russia and Byelorussia, would re-open the markets of these countries for Moldavian wine, fruit juice, fruit and vegetables...

The CPRM proposes two stages in the solution of the economic crisis gripping Moldavia. According to the leaders of the CPRM, in the first, "social-democratic stage", the communists, together with the "progressive forces" in society, would remove the negative effects of the (capitalist counter-) reforms, put an end to the theft of nationalised property, and restore the economic and technical potential of the country. They would also restore the social conquests achieved in the past in order to improve the material living conditions and cultural level of the population.

Collective ownership of the principal means of production are to be re-stored as the driving force of the economy, through the purchase of the shares of privatised enterprises by the state. In this context the private sector would be allowed to exist, mainly in the sphere of industry and the production of consumer goods and services. Economic intergration would be guaranteed within the framework of the CIS.

Also, the power of the people would be restored, along with the defence of the basic social and economic rights of the workers.

During this "stage" more than one social system would exist... In other words the Communist Party is in favour of a mixed economy: elements of a planned economy combined with capitalist production.

However, it is very clear that the new government does not, and will not, have the money for "the purchase of the shares of privatised enterprises by the state". The same goes for the reconstruction of the basic sectors of the economy, and, unfortunately, the two-fold increase in pay and pensions promised before the elections.

If we rule out the prospect of borrowing from international credit to achieve these aims, we inevitably come to the conclusion that the only way to rebuild the economy in present-day Moldavia is throughthe the re-nationalisation of the key sectors of the economy, without compensation. Without this key measure, all the rest of the programme will remain just empty words.

Moreover, the real situation is that Russian capital will never open up its markets in exchange for promises of "friendship and gratitude", and also the government would be too weak in the struggle against multinational corporations for control ofthe Moldavian market.

This, of course, does not mean that the nationalised enterprises should be quickly sold to Russian capitalists in order to encourage reintegration with the Russian economy. In the recent period of the union between Russia and Byelorussia, privatised Byelorussian industry has not been bought up by Russian capitalists. The russian bourgeois saw no advantages in it for them. Likewise, the privatised market of Moldavia is either not open to the Russian bourgeois, and where it is open it is on terms which are unfavourable for consumers in Moldavia. For example, undoubtedly the French capitalists, who own the energy industry of Moldavia, could easily come to an agreement with Chubais (the chief executive of UES), but on terms that the government guarantee them their profits.

There is a similar economic background to the Trans-Dniester problem. It is obvious that the President of the PMR (The Trans-Dniester Moldavian Republic), Smirnov, has his own views about the privatization of industry on the left bank (of the Dniester river). If the basic sectors of the Moldavian economy were to be renationalized, then the reunification of the country could take place painlessly. There would be no objections to Voronin. On the other hand, if there is no renationalisation then such reintegration will not be easy.

Without the renationalisation of the economy, Moldavia will inevitably find itself in one of two possible scenarios. Either the government will start to print money desperately, in which case hyper-inflation will definitely destroy the economy (as it did a few years ago in Bulgaria after the 'socialist' government printed money to balance the budget and satisfy pensioners and the agricultural lobby), or it can try to keep things as they are now.

Of course, neither of these perspectives can solve the burning problems facing the masses. The urban and rural proletariat of Moldavia has been reduced to the harshest living conditions by poverty and unemployment. It is this poverty and unemployment that explains why people (who ten years ago supported Snegur and fought as volunteers in the war against "Russian commies" from the PMR) now vote for the PCRM.

But it is critical support. Voronin and his party have received an unlimited credit of trust but for a very short period of time. Perhaps the "honeymoon" period will last for as long as a year, possibly a little longer. It is impossible to predict with certainty the future tempo of events. However, if in the coming period the party does not begin sweeping reforms in the economy then it will itself be swept away by a spontaneous movement of the masses, and the country will be plunged into economic and political chaos.

The road along which the consciousness of the Moldavian masses has developed is not a new one. It has simply unfolded more rapidlyly than in the other countries of the CIS. This is due to the small size of Moldavia and its weak economy. It has moved from support for pro-western liberal-nationalists like Snegur, through to the 'pragmatists' (as the former 'first secretaries' now like to call themselves) such as Luchinskii, and on to the pro-Russian 'communists', of which Voronin is an example.

Can the CPRM break out of this spiral which is leading to disaster? If it tries to stay within the boundaries of capitalism and bourgeois democracy, certainly not.

Only the immediate renationalisation of the economy, the democratic management of industry and the state by the working class, the rejection of the current "orientation" of foreign policy in favour of proletarian internationalism and the support of the working class in neighbouring countries, can transform the situation in Moldavia.

The weakness of the Moldavian bourgeoisie has created the preconditions for the peaceful transfer of power into the hands of the working class in that country. It is necessary seize this opportunity - and not only in Moldavia.

The situation in the Ukraine is almost identical to that in Moldavia (although with a time-lag of one year). Even in the recent period a handful of nationalists had organized noisy demonstrations in Kishinev. Now they have been sidelined by the massive popular vote. To this day, in Kiev, 5 or 10 or even 15,000 nationalists is nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands that the communists are able to call onto the streets. If the present trends continue the Communist Party of the Ukraine is guaranteed an easy victory in the next parliamentary elections in the Ukraine.

Radical economic reforms in the interests of the working class in Moldavia would become a very powerful catalyst in driving forward the revolutionary processes in the Ukraine, Armenia, Byelorussia and in the other countries of the CIS, and, finally, in Russia itslef. On the other hand, a negative experience for the masses in Moldavia would mean voter apathy in the elections, and a decline in support for the 'communists'.

That is why the first interview with Voronin, in which he expressed his intention "to form a government of professionals", represents serious dangers. Moldavia, today more than ever, does not need "professionals", but political decisiveness and leadership from the "communist" leaders in the new government. It requires a readiness to go the end and to decisively break with the national bourgeoisie, with confidence only in the working class. It is up to the rank and file members of the party, to put pressure on the party committees at all levels, to alter the course of the party from its present day opportunistic policy of "two stages" and turn it towards the Leninist policy of proletarian revolution.