For many governments across the world, the pandemic has offered a beneficial ground for instituting compromising policies against one’s liberal expression, safety, and autonomy. People have been witnessing politicians’ abuse of power supposing that people will stay home. People felt isolated not only physically but also politically. However, one thing that we can surely learn from history is that once the collective’s values and freedom are jeopardized, people will revolt no matter the consequences.

At least, this is what I was told in my history classes every time we would discuss the Springtime of Nations, the October Revolution, or any other uprisings. I grew up believing that people have the power to change not only their lives but also the destiny of their nation. This belief was not solely planted in my mind by history notebooks and theoretical knowledge, but by my father who has always been a symbol of rebellion in the flesh. He fought in the civil war in 1992. Although this happened reasonably long ago before the emergence of my existence, I cannot lucidly recall the moment I realized that he took part in a war. Perhaps the memory of that apprehension was altered by the confusion regarding the term war because war was nothing else in my eyes than the game me and my siblings were playing against each other. Nevertheless, I can sharply recollect the ringing sound of the medals, the bleached olive green colour, and the gape on my siblings’ faces when we found my father’s military uniform at the bottom of the wardrobe. As children, we tended to see the pride my father displayed when talking about the war, but it was a matter of acquiring knowledge to be able to see beyond what he was projecting onto us. Rebellion is often preceded by an accumulated and overflowing exhaustion, and in fact, this point was reached once the collapse of the Soviet Union occurred. People were tired of speaking in a language that is not theirs, of having to deny their cultural identities, of not being able to peacefully reside on the territory that belonged to them. Although the integrity of Moldova is still jeopardized today, I grew up knowing that people have power when they are united.
But beliefs can always be weakened. It happens when reality keeps contradicting your values and when what you were taught to be the truth emerges as an overly polished interpretation of the facts. For thirty years of independence, Moldovan politics kept eroding my family’s faith in the future. Let’s face it, it was not bad. It was very bad! Moldova gained fame due to a bank fraud scandal, countless election frauds, its flawed economy and defective infrastructure. It is not like the world was watching us and not doing anything. The world tried to help this country several times by investing immense sums of money in different sectors, but you can not fix something without knowing its mechanism and what it is fueled by.

When I was younger, I could not understand why the Communist or the Socialist Party would get most of the votes, with a right-wing ideology, inclining more to the same principles that the USSR politics were promoting. However, looking at the voter turnout by age group, the gap in percentage turnout between the older and younger voters was pretty wide. Younger generations were simply not exercising their right to vote, denying that Moldova could ever have any progressive future while the older generation still had ingrained obsolete political doctrines. So no matter how many investments Moldova would receive, the outcome was always the same because of this mechanism.

When the presidential election knocked at our door at the end of 2020, I tried to swallow the bitterness of an anticipated despondency. I wanted to make space for the hope which was a deficit in times of a pandemic crisis. Watching the world leaders failing us when we needed more than ever qualitative reforms and having a vast record of political letdowns at the national scale, I found myself being utterly frightened. I remembered how watching the ballot count live stream would always bring a feeling of disappointment, sifting the prodigious lumps of anger through the strain of powerlessness. And remembering all this so vividly could not retain me from foreseeing similar aftermath. However, there was one thing I overlooked when reflecting on the potential result of the election: people can get tired, and when people get tired, they get angry. Perhaps, amid the pandemic, people were given the chance to slow down, review their belief system and whether they fuel the right machine. Or, they simply got fed up with the promises that were never acted upon. I am not sure why the chairwoman of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) won with 57% of the vote, but I remember the warm feeling of not having my disheartening supposition being met by reality.

The current president of the Republic of Moldova is a woman that keeps supporting the development of the country on all possible levels. In a single year, people witnessed a series of reforms that restored a tiny piece of people’s trust in political leaders. But this was not the only victory of national unity. In July 2021, the parliamentary elections were won by PAS, earning them sixty-three chairs in the parliament. Considering that many Moldovans currently reside all over the world due to major waves of emigration, their participation in elections was unprecedented, granting over 85% of the votes to PAS.

I see my country changing at a rapid pace and for this one time, the change is good. For this one time, the rebellion is not violent, having a linear narrative which is culminated by a denouement
on which people pinned their little amount of hope. For this one time, the almost inherently perceived remoteness does not stand in the way of building unity. For this one time, change seems truly possible, despite all the past odds my nation was subjected to. And this one time is more valuable than an aggregate of eternities could ever be.

 

Page header image: Buretz, Alex, The right to vote, July 2021

Cristina Panaguta

About Cristina Panaguta