Parliament spring session
February 10, 2003
The Parliament of the Republic of Moldova resumed its activity on February 6. As in 2002 the Parliament session was inaugurated by protest rallies. Representatives of 16 out of the 25 registered parties picketed the Parliament calling the ruling party to enforce the PACE resolutions and "fulfil the wish" of the 200,000 citizens who signed for the legislative referendum on changing the electoral system.
Although it was stated that all 16 parties took part in the protest rallies, in reality only 8-9 of them actually showed up, especially the ones with low political rating. Two parties represented the Parliament opposition: Christian-Democratic Peoples' Party and Social Democratic Alliance.
The Social Democratic Alliance came up with the initiative to picket the Parliament and suspend the sessions of the Permanent Round Table.
Now its very unlikely that the Parliament would agree with the Social Democratic Alliance initiative to declare a referendum on changing the electoral system. It is more likely they would only partially yield so as to show domestic and international public opinion that they resumed the dialogue and cooperate with the opposition.
Besides political issues the Parliament examined a series of other legal acts, as follows:
I. Law on the modification and completion of the Electoral Code, passed in the first reading.
ADEPT comment: Election Code was amended so as to adjust it to the Constitutional Court Resolution no. 13 of March 14, 2002 and European Charter on Local Autonomy. The amendments reintroduce the provisions of the Electoral Code dealing with mayor election, which were excluded by the law outlawed in early 2002.
Also restored are the provisions referring to the mayor revocation via local referenda or based on the court ruling, whenever the former violates the law.
In addition, the draft law includes new provisions stipulating that a person may not run for the mayoralty for more than two consecutive terms. Another amendment refers to sanctioning the persons whose resignation leads to new elections.
II. Law on the modification and completion of the Law on Administrative-Territorial Division, passed in the first reading.
ADEPT comment: Under the law, changes are made in the structure of administrative-territorial units by amalgamating several localities in a single one. Also, several localities are to be transferred from one rayon to another.
Most importantly under the new law, administrative-territorial units shall enjoy the status of a legal entity and shall be entitled to patrimony. There are also some general provisions referring to the local public administration functions, i.e. meeting the needs of the residents.
The above said amendments have been developed at the recommendation of Council of Europe experts and are part of a broader program of adjusting Republic of Moldova law to the PACE resolutions.
Noteworthy, all the aforesaid amendments shall be operated to a law, which hasn't been enforced yet. When the Constitutional Court outlawed the local elections due in 2002, the Parliament decided that the new Law on Administrative-Territorial Division and Law on Local Public Administration should be enforced on the date 2003 general local elections are set.
III. Law on the ratification of the Convention on the rights and procedures of holding a public office, adopted in the second reading.
ADEPT comment: World Labor Organization passed the Convention in 1978. Its main provisions refer to the right of public officers to associate in trade unions. In addition, the Convention includes guarantees against unwarrantable interference of the public officers in the trade unions' activity.
The main goal of the Convention is to grant independence to the public officers' trade unions, so that they could freely defend the interests of their members.
IV. Law on the modification of the civil status acts.
ADEPT comment: In the law the Parliament cancelled its own decision of 2001, namely the Law on the Civil Status Acts, providing that all the aforesaid acts should be drawn in the state language as well as in Russian. Constitutional Court outlawed the provisions, fact, which generated a public scandal. Both the ruling party and ethnic minorities complained that the Court "exceeded its competencies".
In its ruling Constitutional Court referred to the Law on the Functioning of Languages on the Soil of the Republic of Moldova. The said law enjoyed the status of a constitutional law, and for 7 years could have been modified by the vote of 2/3 of deputies.
On the other hand, experts claim that binding use of Russian breaches Constitutional provisions and even the rights of other minorities residing in Moldova.