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Democracy and governing in Moldova
No. 17, 21 October 2003
Activity of public institutions
Studies, analyses, comments
I. Activity of public institutions
During September 29 - October 12 Parliament examined several important drafts. One of its most important decisions passed is the Resolution on establishing a Commission to examine the Conception of National State Policy. The Parliament decided to establish a special commission that will collect all the recommendations and suggestions from various stakeholders on the Conception of National State Policy of the Republic of Moldova, which already garnered rich criticism from the civil society.
Law on modifying legal acts regulating economic activity is intended to better regulate entrepreneurial activity, as well terms of erasing from the state registry companies that are not functioning and only incur additional expenditures for the founding members. Also, the law would make the activity of control bodies much easier, given that unoperational companies are occasionally used for rapid money laundering, which makes it rather difficult to monitor them.
Under the Law on Modifying the Law on State Tax a state tax is to be paid when appealing final court rulings. This decision was taken given the high number of appeals submitted since the enforcement of the new Civil Procedure Code. In its turn, this higher number of appeals is determined by the fact that the new Code does not provide mechanisms for appealing court ruling issued before its enforcement.
Law on Ratification of the Agreement on mutual protection and promotion of investments, concluded between the Republic of Moldova and Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina for a ten year period in view of boosting economic cooperation on the mutually acceptable terms. Among others the Agreement refers to: promoting and protecting investments; nationalization and expropriation; compensation for losses, transfers, and settlement of disputes between the contractual parties, etc.
Law on Modification and Completion of the Law on Imprisonment on Suspicion excludes the provisions allowing for compelled feeding of detainees. Compelled feeding is viewed as a kind of torture, as it is done against the will of the detainee. However, the law allows for compelled feeding in cases when detainee's life is under threat.
On October 8, Government recalled Nicolae Tabacaru from his position as Republic of Moldova Ambassador to Germany. It also revoked the membership of the incumbent Minister of Education, Valentin Beniuc, in the Observers' Council of the "Teleradio-Moldova" public audiovisual institution and replaced him with the Dean of the Slavonic University, Victor Costetchi. On the same day, the Government appointed Iulian Magaleas, former Chair of the "Teleradio-Moldova" public audiovisual institution, to the position of Republic of Moldova Ambassador to Greece.
Government approved the draft budget of state social insurance for year 2004. The draft provides for a 2,467,831,000 MDL deficit free budget. The budget is made up of obligatory social security contributions, interests and transfers from the state budget. It shall be allocated as follows: 2,125,000,000 MDL for pensions and indemnities; 8,700,000 MDL for families with kids; 3,200,000 MDL for workmen compensation insurance; 43,000,000 MDL for the unemployment compensation fund; 135,342,000 MDL for the social insurance of the employees, etc. Noteworthy, for the first time ever Moldovan citizens legally employed abroad would be able to pay the state social insurance, an annual tax of 705 MDL.
Another draft law approved by the Government refers to the statute of the Chisinau Municipality. The draft regulates organization and functioning of the local public administration in Chisinau, provides for the principles of cooperation between the central and local government. Moreover, the draft awards a string of additional prerogatives to the Municipal Council. For the first time ever, Municipal Council will be entitled to select in an open competition the secretary, chiefs of departments, as well as to appoint and oust at the recommendation of the Mayor any chief of the municipal companies. The incumbent Mayor has refrained so far from commenting the draft.
On the social front, Government approved a Regulation on estimation and payment of special merit state allocations. The Regulation entitles around 22,000 citizens of the country to a monthly allocation worth 25 and 50 lei. The beneficiaries include citizens awarded state distinctions of the Republic of Moldova or a URSS equivalent. The cost of the initiative is estimated at 19 million per year.
Government approved a draft on modifying the Law on Inspection before Expedition thereby postponing to a latter date its enforcement. It is believed the move comes in response to IMF's decision to suspend disbursement of financial aid to Moldova.
Via another of its decisions the Government endorsed the liquidation of the "Teleradio-Moldova" Company. Now it is for the Parliament to decide on the terms of the company reorganization into a public institution.
Meeting with OSCE Chairman-in-Office
President Vladimir Voronin met OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. A press release issued by the Presidential press service reads that the Two discussed the agenda of the next OSCE Ministerial Council meeting to be held in Maastricht on December 1-2; OSCE's role in settling Transdnistrian conflict; and terms of evacuating Russian munitions from the eastern region of the Republic of Moldova.
President Voronin thanked Jaap de Hoop Scheffer for the continuous support of Netherlands during its OSCE Chairmanship, whereas Dutch Minister indicated that Europe needs Moldova. This in itself is very encouraging for us, since not so long ago according to high European dignitaries, Moldova was lying outside EU's zone of interests. Moreover, the fact that Jaap de Hoop Scheffer acknowledged Moldova's pro-European orientation and authorities' sincerity in this respect, may lead one to believe that while Netherlands would hold EU presidency it would be more receptive to our integration initiatives.
President Voronin on judiciary reform
Recently in his address to the Parliament, Vladimir Voronin stressed the need to continue the reforms in judiciary, which was undergoing a deep crisis that "did not allow for a transparent judiciary, for finding the objective truth and for rule of law". According to the President the following are the main obstacles to an objective, fair and independent judiciary: delays in examining the cases, illegalities, abuses of power, corruption, differentiated enforcement of the law, numerous cases of canceling and modifying court rulings by the superior structures, lack of personal responsibility of the judiciary employees, and not less important lack of "control and overseeing" on the judiciary. Under those circumstances the President opted "for a judiciary free of personal and group interests, of abuses of power and corruption, of negligence and unprofessionalism". However, President indicated he would never go for a "judiciary free of people". Vladimir Voronin demanded those negative trends to be eliminated and that a task force to be formed out of legislative, executive and judiciary branches entrusted to abolish any obstacles to the normal functioning of the judiciary.
The mediators on Transdnistrian conflict gathered in Kiev on October 9-10. Together with OSCE experts they resumed working on the draft political agreement to regulate constitutional bases of the would-be Moldovan federation. The agreement is to be submitted to the two parties in the conflict so as to boost the activity of the Joint Constitutional Commission.
Evacuation of Russian Federation troops and munitions
During his visit to Canada, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov admitted that Moscow might ask for the extension of the deadline set by OSCE for evacuating its munitions from Transdnistria. According to Ivanov Tiraspol is to be blamed for the delay. Moscow might not resort to force to determine him to be more cooperative. One may only wonder about Moscow's tolerance with Tiraspol leaders guilty of procrastinating the evacuation, but who once applying for Russian citizenship pledged to unconditionally observe Russian Constitution, laws, and implicitly the international agreements it is part to.
In a related note, on October 9 Christian-Democratic faction in Parliament proffered a draft declaration on the failure of the Russian Federation to comply with the resolutions of the Istambul and Porto OSCE Summits, and insisted on its examination during the plenary session. At the initiative of the Chair of the Parliament the issue was subject to voting, however it failed to gather a majority vote. Nonetheless, the draft declaration was made public at the end of the plenary session and it would be probably reexamined later on by the Parliament.
III. Foreign affairs
Conception on European integration of the Republic of Moldova
One of the most important events of the last two weeks - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Stratan presented the Conception on European integration of the Republic of Moldova in Brussels. During his meeting with Andrei Stratan, Javier Solana, EU foreign and security policy chief saluted the elaboration of such a document and viewed it as a clear sign of pro-European aspirations of Moldovan authorities. He indicated that "EU would voice its opinion of the document later on, in particular during the upcoming visit to Chisinau of the EU's Enlargement Commissioner Gunter Verheugen". The Conception was also provided to Michael Leigh, European Commission's Foreign Relations Department Deputy Chief; Hugues Mingarelli, head of the European Commission's Directorate for Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Mongolia, and Central Asia, Gregor Koessler and Bjorn Kuhne of the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe.
There is no doubt that the elaboration of the Conception per se, deserves our full appreciation, however, it is regrettable that it wasn't made public and wasn't put up for public debates in Moldova. Given authorities' unwillingness to make public the document before, it is very unlikely that they would want it in the future once European Commission offers its comments. Most probably once they receive European Commission recommendations, Moldovan authorities would make the appropriate recommendations and the Parliament would approve it, without any consultation of the civil society whatsoever. The Strategy on European Integration of the Republic of Moldova as well as the Action Plan might well be developed in a similar manner without consulting civil society. An evidence to this are the talks Vladimir Voronin had with various decision-makers, including those of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on the actions to be taken by the Republic of Moldova at home and abroad once the Conception is officially presented in Brussels.
Moldovan-Romanian bilateral relations
Recently, already feeble bilateral relations between Moldova and Romania have been deteriorated even further after Moldova's permanent representative to the Council of Europe, Alexei Tulbure made several accusations to Romania at the 9 October meeting of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers. In a related note, Communists Victor Stepaniuc and Andrei Neguta asked Council of Europe's support in pushing Romania to register the old-style church, as well as to eliminate nationalistic, anti-Semitic, and xenophobe elements from the primary and secondary education history handbooks.
In his speech Alexei Tulbure referred to the tensions between the two countries, in particular over six important issues: "Basic Treaty, Transdnistria, special fund, economic relations, declarations on accession to EU, linguistic and history matters" (Moldova suverana (Sovereign Moldova), no. 179 (20358), 15 October 2003). Those differences may not be resolved within the bilateral dialogue, that is why CE assistance in mediating and facilitating "assessment of the existing problems, identifying possible solutions and defining actions that would restore the confidence and trust between both countries". According to the Moldovan Ministry of Foreign Affairs those problems "endanger Moldova's existence, hinder the resolution of the Transdniester conflict, and negatively influence Moldova's European integration prospects".
The response followed immediately afterwards, Romanian Foreign Ministry release rejected these allegations, arguing that Tulbure's position "lacks real support and does not correspond to the European spirit" Romania seeks to use in bilateral relations". The release reaffirms that Romania "recognizes, respects, and supports" Moldova's statehood and says Moldova's sudden change of heart reflects internal difficulties in managing "complex identity and political aspects. Addressing them, rather than trying to divert public attention to false external problems, is the only solution for opening a new state in the negotiating with European institutions".
IV. Studies, analyses, comments
1. Can de-urbanization be stopped?
by Anatolii Gudim
The new times have brought considerable changes to the Republic of Moldova. Such changes include openness to the world, macroeconomic stabilization, property reform, rise of the market and private sector, land privatization, trade liberalization (external and internal) and democratization of public life. There are, however, spheres of life where changes have been of a destructive character. Amongst them are expansion of the poverty zone and social inequality, emigration and mass labor migration abroad, the deindustrialization of towns, the collapse of social infrastructure in rural areas and finally the stagnation of ecosystems.
The majority of these negative processes appear locally. Despite this, problems of managing local development got the least attention of all our reforms.
In part, this is an echo of recent past, since branch-like state management dominated during the soviet period and it was central government and branch ministries that disposed of all management instruments and resources. After 1991, ministries (except the Ministry of Finance) were deprived of instruments such as the right to distribute investments, funds, etc., yet local bodies (districts and towns) did not get them instead - either in the form of self-administration functions, or in the form of municipal property or sufficient incomes for local budgets. Instead of the "federalization of the country's budget" we got quite the opposite - its even higher centralization. The lack of consideration for the local needs is one of the main causes of inefficient reforms in Moldova.
De-urbanization as a fact. The transition in Moldova was marked (among other things) by reduction of urban population. It numbered 1.91 mil persons throughout the whole territory of the country, including Transnistria, as of January 1, 2003 or 45.3 percent of the population. On the right bank of the Dnestr it numbered 1.49 mil, or 41.4 percent of the total population. The main causes are the deindustrialization of towns, stagnation of their infrastructure, and depopulation, which is deeper in towns than in rural areas.
The fastest urbanization of the country, as is well known, occurred during 1960s - 1980s when circa 300 new industrial enterprises were placed on its territory. They used both imported raw materials (in the energy sector, machinery, light and furniture industries) and domestic ones (in the food industry and in the production of construction materials). As a result, the urban population grew from 670 mil persons to 2,1 mil persons over the 60-90's that is, threefold! The urban skeleton of the country was formed of 21 towns (a large one - Chisinau, three medium ones - Baltsi, Tiraspol and Bendery; the rest are small towns with populations of no more than fifty thousand people) and 45 urban villages.
After 1990, under the complex crisis of the economy, the urban population dropped by 154,4 thou persons, the figure equal to the number of people living in Orhei, Soroca, Ungheni and Cahul taken together and exceeding the current population of Baltsi, whose population in turn has reduced by approximately 10.0 percent.
Urban population dynamics (including Transnistria)
The crisis of cities has mostly affected small towns and new urban villages, especially those based on a single enterprise: Rezina (a cement factory), Cantemir (a tinned food factory), Briceni, Alexandreni, Glodeni (sugar refineries), etc. Chisinau turned out to be relatively stable. Its population (within comparable boundaries) reduced slightly: from 661,4 thou persons according to the 1989 census to 660,7 thou persons as of the beginning of 2003. But it has been the municipality of Chisinau where the most part of business of the country has been concentrated: 68 percent of all small and medium enterprises, 75 percent of their output and 57 percent of the employed.
Among Moldovan citizens going abroad 35-38 percent in the last few years have been urban residents (according to the Department of Statistics and Sociology). In the Q2 2003, for instance, there were 88,3 thou of them, which is equal to the population of ten(!) towns like Cantemir.
Moldova is manifestly starting to look more rural. This occurs against a background of a rather urbanized structure of its neighbors - Romania and Ukraine, where urban population accounts for 55% and 68% correspondingly. The only European country where urban population is smaller than the Moldovan one is Albania.
Will the 2003 administrative-territorial reform provide for a revival of towns? Most likely, the answer to this question will be negative. The return to 40 territorial raions (32 on the right bank of the Dnestr, 3 in Gagauzia and 5 in Transnistria), most of which have small demographic and production potential, might "bring the authority closer to the people", but it surely will not allow the concentration of resources - either from the state budget, or from the outside. All cities (except Chisinau and Baltsi) and districts will remain doomed for a long time to depend on transfers allotted by the Government. It is indicative how the Government (Decree #93-r of September 8, 2003) plans to hold its field sessions in Straseni (September), Ocnitsa (October), Basarabeasca (November) and Stefan-Voda (December). These sessions are intended to examine issues that are quite topical for these towns and districts: such as entrepreneurship development, provision of the population with natural gas, electric power, drinkable water and so on. Among those mentioned as being "responsible for the preparation of these sessions" were the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry, Ministry of Ecology and Constructions and a series of departments. But no local bodies were mentioned. Besides, towns are now "built-in" into raions: all interrelations between the towns and the state budget (including transfers) are carried out through the raion financial services.
Such an attitude towards towns cannot be considered as productive. Moreover, ever since the 14th century the authorities ruling over Moldova divided the country in different ways (such as tsinuts, judets, raions), but the country's "skeleton" has always been "cemented" by cities and roads. Now, taking account both of the current general distress and of future tasks, one should admit that it is not realistic both to raise and equalize development throughout the country's territory concurrently. It is necessary to mark out peculiar "growth poles".
Towns as poles of local growth. World history gives many examples of the stimulating and organizing role of cities in the development of regions and countries, for example, the city-states of ancient Greece, Hanseatic cities of medieval Germany, the towns-colonies of the Black Sea, etc. Towns played a particular role, especially during crises, in Moldovan history as well.
Taking this into account, the concept of nodal or polarized districts formed around cities as the nuclei of administrative, economic and social activities is universally recognized in regional theory and practice. The functional interconnections in such districts occur most effectively through flows of labor, resources, goods and services and transport ties. Towns as growth poles of such regions determine the development character of territories, which are drawn towards them, and concentrate such spheres as entrepreneurship, "business for business", investments, financial operations and education.
The regional policy realized during the 1970s - 1980s in the MSSR (besides elements of voluntarism) in the scientific respect was based on distinguishing homogenous regions (zones of agricultural specialization), nodal regions (towns - industrial parks, promising settlements), as well as programmed regions (such as programs for developing Chisinau or the South of the country).
The principal long-term documents were the "Multilevel regional planning of the MSSR" and "MSSR regional settlement system". In correspondence with these plans the country was demarcated by 4 group settlement systems (North, Center, Southeast and South) and 8 planned zones (their centers were Edintets, Baltsi, Rybnitsa, Ungheni, Chisinau, Tiraspol-Tighina, Comrat and Cahul), which - in their turn - were divided into 36 subzones and 86 microzones.
Depending on the complexity of their functions towns were divided into 4 levels: multifunctional centers of group settlement systems; interdistrict centers, whose influence extends to several low-level districts; towns - centers of low-level districts; local centers.
During the last decade, the scientific and project basis of regional policy in the Republic of Moldova was not modernized and the situation at the local level became worse everywhere and to virtually equal degree.
That is why the Government's possible initiative (developed by the Ministry of Economy or the Ministry of Ecology, Constructions and Local Development?) for sustainability and realizing the concept "Towns as Growth Poles" could base itself (just for a start!) upon its "predecessors" - the research output of the "NII planirovania", "KievNIIgiprograd", "Moldgiprostroy" (now "Urbanproiect") and "Moldgiproselstroy" (now "Ruralproiect"): the "Multilevel regional planning of the MSSR", "MSSR regional settlement system", and "Methods and variants to form the network of administrative-territorial districts" approved in its time by the Government and still in operation owing to the lack of new elaborations.
Based on the aforementioned there are 12 towns that might serve as possible "growth poles" - for economic, social and cultural activization of the surrounding territories: Baltsi, Edinets, Soroca in the Northern region, Chisinau, Orhei and Ungheni in the Central one, Comrat, Cahul and Taraclia in the Southern one, and Tiraspol, Rybnitsa and Dubossary in the Southeastern region of the country.
Focusing the attention of the Government on a limited circle of cities will allow saving time and resources. Such an approach will surely provoke objections both of the administrations of other towns and raions, and their lobbyists in the Parliament and the Government. In this case however, we will once more miss the opportunities that marking out priorities in economic policy could bring. We have already made the mistake at the dawn of reforms of not choosing priorities of both manufacturing industry and agro-industrial complex, and we are trying to rectify it now.
The practical implementation of the concept "Towns as Growth Poles" presupposes the formation of its legal basis, trustworthy statistics on towns and raions, and a mechanism for financial interrelations between the center and those key towns. This is not an easy work, but it is a concrete one, and so it can become quite a constructive part of the Economic Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRSP) that the Government is formulating now as its economic policy main document for the next few years.
2. Who would take us to Europe?
by Oazu Nantoi
Political developments in the last twenty years have changed dramatically the political geography of the European continent. In May 2004 European Union would open up to ten new members, whereas in 2007 three other members, i.e. Romania, Bulgaria, and Croatia are expected to join EU. After the collapse of the soviet empire, there were a lot of contradictory opinions within EU on whether should its boundaries lie. However, it has been proven that the most important thing in any country's accession to EU is a clear political will and the country's ability to conform to Copenhagen criteria. Although each candidate country is viewed separately, there was not a single case of a blind acceptance of any country. In other words, nobody is invited to join EU, on the contrary - the candidate knocks on EU door and EU decides whether to accept it in the European home, or let it outside for a while.
Out of the former soviet republics only the Baltic states have gone along a consistent direction, which would eventually bring them to EU. On the other hand, Russian Federation has made it quite clear that it has no intention of becoming an EU member, probably viewing itself as too big and too important so as to comply with the decisions taken in Brussels. However, once the first accession wave has became almost a reality, a more of a question than a problem arose, what should EU do with its new neighbors? Those who have an opportunity to talk with EU officials, would say that this question envisages only Ukraine. Belarus has no chances whatsoever to become an EU member. As for Moldova, it draw EU's attention only due to the threat it might pose once it becomes EU neighbor in 2007.
Last month abounded in pro-European declarations made by the President Vladimir Voronin. European integration has not only taken the center stage in domestic media outlets, but also became a kind of fashion of the day, which might lead an ordinary citizen to believe that EU is dying to have Republic of Moldova, as its stands now with a "Marxist-Leninist" party in power, with its human trafficking, with its unsettled Transdnistrian conflict, etc, within its members. Though it is plain clear for any country that European integration means a strong long-term effort, even sacrifice, backed up by a consensus not only among political elite, but also society as a whole. Only this coherence in the state of mind and emotion might ensure a consequence in adopting European values by the society, regardless of the ruling party orientation. Now, let me once again cite the Baltic states, which were the first ones to consciously break away from URSS, and were supported in their endeavor by their own Diasporas, by NATO and EU member countries, etc. It took those countries 40 years to get to EU. On the country, in the Republic of Moldova the suspension of the Communist Party activity on August 27, 1991 was followed by their spectacular come back to power ten years later, this time, however, via democratic elections and with an antidemocratic, xenophobe and populist message. In other words, it is not clear where did we head in the last ten years since we had found ourselves independent in 1991.
Having said that it would be interesting to assess in how far the pro-European rhetoric was present in Moldovan political life.
For the first time European integration topped on the Government action plan in 1997, when the Parliament demoralized by the fight between Mircea Snegur (President at that time), Andrei Sangheli (Prime-Minister), and Petru Lucinschi (Chair of the Parliament), all engaged in the electoral race; voted in the first Ciubuc Government and its program. Nevertheless, European integration idea was totally inconsistent with Parliament membership at that time, when 84 out of 104 seats belonged to "Agrarian" and "Interfront" deputies.
European integration was included in the action plan of the Government, headed by Ion Ciubuc, as a tribute to the external developments, rather than to the changes in Moldova per se. Therefore, this task in the Ciubuc-1 action plan had not been implemented.
1997 political year began with feverish preparations for 1998 parliamentary elections. At the first glance, their outcomes seemed to indicate a slide towards the "right" in the voters' preferences.
After the March 22, 1998 parliamentary elections several scenarios of alliances were possible. The position of the For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Movement was decisive. The Alliance for Democracy and Reforms formed by For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Movement, Democratic Convention of Moldova, and Party of Democratic Forces had 61 seats in Parliament. The Alliance proclaimed itself as reformatory and anti-Communist. Theoretically, the Alliance had enough votes to efficiently rule until the end of its mandate. In reality though, it had the same fate as the previous two legislatures elected in 1990 and 1994 respectively. Fight for personal interests, rather than those of the society at large, eroded the Alliance and overturned the balance of power in the legislative body. As a result, three Governments changed within three years. Out of the three, only the one headed by Ion Sturza promoted an independent policy from that of the President, which resulted in tensions between President Lucinschi and Alliance for Democracy and Reforms. Moreover, Sturza Government was the first to take conscious steps towards accession to EU. As a result the split within the Alliance and severe attacks from the Communist faction, Sturza Government was ousted with 58 votes on November 8, 1999. In ousting Sturza, Communist majority was backed up by their greatest enemies, Christian-Democratic Peoples' Party, and independent deputies who fled For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Movement and took a pro-Lucinschi stance. The next Government, headed by Dumitru Braghis, was elected by the very same majority.
2000 was marked by the battle for the Presidency. Being aware of his declining popularity, President Petru Lucinschi came up with the initiative of modifying the Constitution. The reasons cited by the President were quite simple - he failed to fulfil his electoral promises because Constitution did not granted enough powers. His initiative was accompanied by a propaganda campaign of denigrating the Parliament. Political parties preferred not to fight with Lucinschi in the open, but rather change the Constitution. On July 5, 2000 Republic of Moldova became a parliamentary republic, with the President elected by 3/5 of the MPs, i.e. 61 votes. Amendments to Constitution were backed up by all the parties represented in Parliament, except for the independent pro-Lucinschi MPs.
However, this short-term consolidation vanished once it came to the election of the President. The fight for the Presidential seat lead to the dissolution of the Parliament. On December 31, 2000 President Lucinshi issued a decree dissolving the Parliament as of January 12, 2001 and setting the date of early parliamentary elections for February 25, 2001.
Moldovan society was deeply disillusioned and frustrated with the outcomes of the "reformatory" and "anti-Communist" Alliance's activity. Such notions as "democracy", "reforms", "market economy", "pluri-party system", etc gained a bad connotation with many citizens. Communists' dexterity contributed to it as well, after 1998 elections they somehow managed to avoid taking any responsibility, blaming the "democrats" for what had happened in the country in the last ten years.
2001 electoral campaign started with negotiations between political parties on forming alliances, so as to pass the 6% threshold of representation. In the end 17 contestants were included in the ballot paper. The traditional "party of power" was also among the contestants. This time "Braghis Alliance" played this role. The Alliance included several insignificant players and was headed by the Prime Minister Braghis. Communist Party went in elections exploiting the nostalgic feelings of the population, especially revanchist feelings of the ethnic minorities (i.e. joining Russia - Belarus Union, Russian language - second official language, etc). Other parties, former members of the Alliance for Democracy and Reforms, ran separately. Out of them only the Christian-Democratic Peoples' Party had a clear-cut message - fighting corruption. This message was backed up by the figure of police general, Nicolae Alexei, former head of the Department on Fighting Corruption and Organized Crime. As for the other former Alliance partners, they had a rather vague electoral message and exhausted leaders, etc.
At the first glance election outcomes may seem quite a surprise. Only three contestants managed to pass the 6% threshold, namely Communist Party, Braghis Alliance and Christian Democrats. They got 71, 19 and 11 seats respectively.
Is Moldova indeed a Communist country? To answer this question we need to take a closer look at the election results of 2001. It is worth pointing that 794,808 citizens cast their votes in favor of the Communist Party, or 33.4% out of the total number of voters. Consequently, in 2001 Moldova wasn't much more Communist than in 1994, when 1,157,173 (49.1%) citizens cast their votes in favor of the parties having a similar message. Moldovan electorate didn't vote the Communist Party demagogue platform, but rather it voted against the ruined "democratic" parties. One thing is for sure, for now on Moldova is definitely not a democratic country.
Going back to the experience of Baltic states and the long way, almost 40 years, it took to reach EU, one may conclude that Republic of Moldova's short history is that of lost opportunities. Vladimir Voronin's disillusionment with CIS does not necessarily mean a conscious step towards Europe. Transdnistrian conflict is still a trap for Moldova's statehood, whereas incumbent governing party is exhausted and is sliding towards sacrificing the country sovereignty. Shortly, Moldova would engage in another electoral battle and for a short time European integration would be one of the many other electoral slogans. One of the candidates to the "party of power" role is "Moldova Noastra" Alliance. Communists will still be present in the next Parliament. But who will take us to Europe?