The next urgent item on the table is uninterrupted financial support from the EU, on which Moldova's macrofinancial stability and economic growth heavily rely. The EU provides 80 percent of investment, absorbs 66 percent of Moldova's exports, and allocates over 80 percent of all the international grants that Moldova receives. PSRM will need to keep the door to Europe open, but its starting position is not so strong. In a social media post in October, the new prime minster, Ion Chicu, blamed the EU for the precarious situation in Moldova, and accused high-ranking EU officials of being accomplices to a major bank fraud scandal there (a message he later deleted), meaning he is probably not the best person to keep that door open.
The EU has learned two important lessons in Moldova. The first is related to the application of conditionality, namely "less for less" and "more for more." Since 2015, the EU has gradually halted financial assistance to Moldova as the government stalled on reforms it voluntarily promised to implement. The EU focuses more on policies and less on declarations. The second lesson is related to the speed of actions. The EU is often described as a slow power, but this summer, as the new government took shape in Chisinau and rebooted the reform process, the EU was able to match political will for transformation with a substantial financial package, comprising macrofinancial (a first tranche of 30 million euros) and sectoral assistance (55 million euros).
Should the new government fail to meet the conditions for the subsequent tranches, the "less for less" principle will be swiftly reactivated. This possibility was confirmed by Olivér Várhelyi, the candidate for the post of Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, during his confirmation hearing in the European Parliament. The EU intends to avoid stepping on the same rake twice. Most probably, the way this government acts on justice reform, unbundling in the energy field, and the selection of the new prosecutor general will be the litmus tests for the EU.
The urgent issues of policies will overlap with politics. The PSRM-led government is dependent on the votes of thirty DPM deputies. DPM, in turn, might be inclined to weaken its partner in order to increase its bargaining power. In a recent interview, the secretary general of DPM pointed out that the party has enough votes together with ACUM to bring PSRM's government down if the latter does not deliver. In this context, he also hinted that DPM had learned for itself how bad an overconcentration of political power can be. Aware of this vulnerability, PSRM may try to acquire the missing number of votes by cannibalizing DPM's faction. This is exactly what Dodon feared Plahotniuc would do to his party. The president could assume that there is now fertile ground for such inroads to be made against DPM. Plahotniuc's departure exposed deep internal fissures, with several rival groups emerging inside the party. Despite these divisions, however, DPM has managed to stay together and performed well in the last local elections, boosting its morale a little. Should PSRM try to swallow it up, DPM might quickly form a situational coalition in parliament with ACUM in order to bring down the government.