Alegerile parlamentare din 2021 în Republica Moldova -

Could a referendum settle a political crisis?

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March 5, 2002
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Political crisis in the Republic of Moldova has attained a new dimension this week. After protesters’ march to the Teleradio Moldova State Company, about 400 company employees declared a Japanese strike in protest to the censure established by the authorities at the National Radio and TV Stations. Journalists’ act might have a great impact as their accusations of censure are related to the violation of the constitutional principles regarding the human rights.

Supreme Court of Justice ruling outlawing protest rallies determined authorities to resume threatening organizers of the rallies for involving children in the. The problem is that the protesters headed by Christian Democratic People’s Party (PPCD) leaders haven’t done anything that the communists didn’t do. Last year the Communists were the ones to engage kids in politics by establishing pioneer and Comsomol organizations in schools. During a live TV show last week Dumitru Braghis, leader of a parliament faction, brought about this fact when he scolded Victor Stepaniuc, leader of the Communist faction in Parliament. From this perspective, authorities cannot fulfil their threats.

The authorities and official press qualify the current situation as “the social peace and order have been partially lost for the moment”. That is why the idea of a referendum, which “would put an end to the attempts of those who aim to destroy the Moldovan state” seems to recur lately. A problem arises here as well. There is no political party in the Republic of Moldova, which would dispute in its bylaws the existence of a Moldovan state in the long run. It was the Communist party to be the last one to exclude from its bylaws such an objective, whose achievement would have meant loosing the independence of the Republic of Moldova. It was only last year during the April congress, that the governing party adopted a new program, which does not refer to the party membership in the Union of Communist Parties of the Community of Independent States (UCPCIS), whose goal is to rebuild the URSS. Nevertheless, the Communist Party is still a member of the UCPCIS. Furthermore, Moldovan Communists took part in the last UCPCIS congress in October, where at issues was the fulfillment of the strategic goal, i.e. rebuilding USSR. This happened after President representatives stated in August that “any discussion on the independence of the Republic of Moldova may be considered as undermining of the state”. From this perspective the latest actions of the governing party seem more like self-conviction. Indeed, the Communist Party accuses European institutions of applying double standards, when it itself is not so much different.

As for the referendum itself, there are several issues to be considered. Firstly, authorities need a political will to initiate such a referendum. In compliance with the electoral law, a referendum may be initiated by a group of at least 300 citizens. Then 200,000 signatures need to be collected. Also, a referendum may be initiated by 1/3 of the deputies in Parliament, and by the President of the country. It is very unlikely that the President would accept to initiate such a referendum. A referendum may be lost as well, and General Charles De Gaulle’s example — resigning after initiating and loosing a referendum — is an eloquent illustration. The example has been used since to represent how respect for its own people is manifested.

As it takes a long time for the citizens to initiate a referendum, it seems that the only ones left to do the job are the Parliament deputies. Though this conclusion doesn’t help too much. To initiate a referendum, questions subject to the referendum should be clearly formulated. So far, we could only assume what will be the questions subject to referendum. Constitutional Court reject to examine issues related to declaring Russian as the second state language. Issues related to the history study or patriotism would seem too exaggerated for referendum questions. So, it would take a while to just properly formulate the questions. Noteworthy, the Parliament may establish referendum date only six months after initiating it and the referendum is to be conducted two months later. However, general local elections are due next spring. And if a referendum is held in spring, under the electoral law elections may be held only 4 months later.

It is very unlikely that by the time referendum date is set Transdnistrian authorities will agree to a referendum on left bank of Dniester. It is also unclear whether Gagauz citizens will take part in the referendum, given continuously worsening relations between Chisinau and Comrat. The fact that polling places were destroyed during the February 24 referendum held to oust the incumbent Bashkan (Governor) proves that such a scenario may not be excluded. Under given circumstances the legality of referendum results may not be ensured.

Furthermore, the current economic situation does not allow Moldova to engage in a half a year electoral marathon, with a national referendum and elections. In addition, the authorities are committed to conduct a national census in October, which also requires quite an amount of money. And given the unrest in the society the situation gets very complicated.

This being said, we could only agree with the official press, namely the major accomplishment of the governing party has been overcoming syndromes and shocks. Thus, since their victory in February 25, 2001 elections, Communist have been trying to overcome “opposition syndrome”, whereas now they are undergoing through another extreme “shocks of their electoral performances” (71 mandates in Parliament). Under those circumstances, citizens of the Republic of Moldova could only wonder when everything would get back to normal?

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