917 days without a president might bring Moldova a Guinness record. After two and a half years of repeated failures to elect the head of state, the Moldovan politicians finally managed on March 16 to give the country its new President, Nicolae Timofti. But will this former judge become a true leader of the nation? The opinions of the citizens are as diverse as the nation itself.
The unknown public persona of the new Moldovan president has raised many doubts in the society. Nicolae Timofti, former chairman of the Supreme Council of Magistrates, was elected president in the country's legislative forum after a long-sought compromise vote between the ruling Alliance for European Integration (AIE) and three former communist parliamentarians.
Journalist and blogger Vitalie Cojocari voices some of the society's doubts [ro] regarding Timofti:
Who is this Mr. Nicolae Timofti? How honest and how good of a professional is he, considering that he comes from the most corrupted system in Moldova, the judiciary system? How much real power will the current president have? Will he be able to say anything against the ones who placed him in this position? These are the questions to which we do not have an answer. Not yet.
The president's professional background in the judiciary branch is clearly perceived as very negative by the netizens. Alex Cozer writes [ro]:
I do not understand how it is possible to take a judge who has held important positions in the Moldovan judicial system in the recent years and make him the chief of state. I do not understand, because the justice system is by far the most corrupted domain in the Republic of Moldova. In particular, it is because of the mega-corrupted justice that we are in this misery today. […] According to the last opinion poll conducted by IPP [Institute for Public Policy], only 1 percent of Moldovans trust the judiciary, and that is because of this Nicolae Timofti as well.
Ion Marandici mentions on Facebook that the new president is merely a result of a political game:
After three years of failures, the Moldovan parliament finally elected a president. The fact that an informed observer like me does not know anything about the new president's policy preferences is the best illustration of how politics works in a parliamentary republic.
Victor Druţă reflects [ro] the thoughts of the citizens who have positive expectations from the new president:
… at the helm of the state I wanted a well-known and highly appreciated public personality. An intellectual to whose speech I would not be ashamed to listen to. I wanted a president with integrity, who will not let himself be humiliated and who could lend dignity to all those many and deprived. A person of justice, who could be a moral standard to the nation. A person who will not divide, but unite, unite all citizens in a nation, regardless of their languages and political orientation. I want to believe with all my heart that Nicolae Timofti will be just the president this country desires.
On the other hand, the disillusion with the ruling political elite of the country seems to be a strong argument for the voiced concerns towards the long-awaited president.
Vitalie Cojocaru writes [ro]:
No, Mr. President, I do not feel that you are my president. I did not elect you. You were elected by the clique of politicians who realized that they have to put aside for a moment the hatred that keeps them going.
In a similar line of thought, Sorin Hadârcă gives the benefit of the doubt to the new president, but also draws attention [ro] to the fact that the neutral president could be lured by the discredited political class:
Not being a political figure well-known to the mass audience, I was afraid that the convenience for those in power would be the only atribute of the new president. […] This fear has faded away from the moment during the inauguration speech when I caught new notions, non-specific to the vocabulary of the Moldovan political elite. President Timofti speaks of truth, happiness, fulfilled dreams. […] I am not a politician by character, the president admits honestly, unaware of the fact that at the moment “not being a politician” is by far the best PR strategy in the conditions of a compromised political situation. I am wondering what will happen once Mr. President realizes the success of this message. Will he eventually become a politician? We will live and see.
Despite the rally organized by the Communist Party on the day of the elections to protest the legitimacy of the electoral act, more than anything, citizens are happy that the 917-day marathon to elect the president has come to an end.
Bogdan Țîrdea declares [ro] that the election of the president is a wake-up call for the political class and a reminder that they have no more excuses for not moving ahead with the reforms:
The two-year show of electing the president is over. That's it. The Alliance for European Integration has lost the last argument that allowed them to justify themselves for the poverty, unemployment, growing inflation and increasing external debt, etc. Now they have all the strings and supreme power. Consequently, also the responsibility. Now they can no longer organize hundreds of TV shows on the same topic, thousands of articles on the one and only problem, hundres of declarations and theatre plays. In short, they can no longer set a fake public agenda to manipulate the electorate.
Andrei Fornea believes [ro] the election of the president gives the politicians and the country one more chance:
Moldova has a president and the Alliance for European Integration has caught in the last moment the chance to not compromise the Moldovan political class forever. AIE has long ago lost my trust and every day of stagnation, uncertainty and groundless fights has meant new disappointments. Moldova has one more chance, perhaps the last one, and now it is important to see how the ruling leaders will use it. I believe there is no more room for mistakes, or for petty, narrow party interests, or for the search for new sponsors for an upcoming elections. Having in their hands all the state institutions and three more years ahead of them, there are no more excuses possible.