Alegerile parlamentare din 2021 în Republica Moldova -

Referendum on the modification of the electoral system

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April 29, 2002
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Political confrontation of the last three months between the Communist governing and Christian-Democrat opposition reached the stage when the Resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could be enforced. Otherwise, both the power and opposition have much to loose. In his appeal to the protestors in the Town of Freedom the leader of the Christian-Democratic Peoples’ Party, Iurie Rosca stated that the protest rallies would cease immediately he and Victor Stepaniuc draft an agreement on the enforcement of the resolutions passed in Strasbourg.

It might seem that the settlement of the political crisis, in which both the power and opposition claim to be the winners, is so close. Indeed, what the Christian-Democrats achieved is that the power undertook to enforce the objectives the opposition was pursuing for many years. The Communist governing got out of the crisis more consolidated, with an extremely high rating, and more importantly, having a reasonable excuse for not fulfilling their electoral promise. The image of the constructive opposition and that of the extra-parliamentary opposition is very shabby under current circumstances.

Nevertheless, one may foresee new confrontations, but this time between governing party and constructive opposition, led by the former Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis, incumbent leader of the Social Democrat Alliance. Last week the Central Electoral Commission registered an initiative group formed out of 608 persons, which intends to conduct this fall a legislative referendum on a new electoral system for parliamentary and local elections. The leaders of the initiative group recommend that 50% of the deputies be elected on party lists in a national constituency, whereas the rest 50% in uninominal constituencies. As for the election of county councilors the initiative group recommends a majority system.

Until mid-July members of the initiative group should collect 200,000 signatures in support of their initiative, which then would have to be verified by the CEC. Only then, the Parliament would decide to declare or not a referendum for this fall.

It is important to understand what are the grounds for initiating a referendum. There is no doubt that the leaders of the initiative group could bring a lot of arguments in support of changing the current electoral system.

The arguments are related firstly, to the fact that the system of closed party lists complied by the party leaders guided by some obscure and non-transparent criteria, boost corruption and result in scandals and scissions within the parties. Secondly, opinion polls indicate that the great majority of the population disapproves the current proportional electoral system due to the fact that it does not allow for a strong relationship between voters and deputies. Another draw back of current system is the fact that 70% of the incumbent deputies represent party elite from the capital. And finally, the previous three electoral campaigns conducted based on the proportional system didn’t led to a strong party system, on the contrary the permanent games of increasing the threshold of representation has led to the collapse of the political center. The abusive increase of the threshold of representation reduces the effects of proportional representation, and generates distortions. Thus during the last elections in addition to the 50 mandates it received, Communist party got another 20, which is more than the total number of mandates received by the Braghis Alliance, the second largest parliamentary faction.

Further, the leaders of the initiative group cite the advice of the writer, Ion Drutsa, given as a reply to President Voronin’s open letter of January 17. Ion Drutsa replied to the President after two months by recommending among others to change the electoral system. It is believed that the governmental newspaper republished Ion Drutsa’s letter only to disguise Voronin’s disappointment and to exclude the possibility of other newspapers publishing it first. Anyway after the response was published no actions were undertaken. Now, the constructive opposition may ask the President of the country — what’s the use of addressing for advice to someone known to be “a master of founding and building” when the advice is ignored?

Another illustration to the fact is the Communist newspaper’s criticism over the referendum idea. The newspaper accuses the initiative group of readiness to buy the voters’ signatures. Further, the authors point that a possible change of the electoral system might have similar effects to those in Ukrainian parliamentary elections, when voters’ option in favor of Victor Iushenko’s bloc was annihilated by the presidential administration. Allegedly, the latter resorted to administrative levers to determine the candidates elected in uninominal districts to adhere to the pro-presidential faction, which on the contrary enjoyed a meager voters’ support at the national level, only the third place.

Noteworthy, Christian-Democratic opposition is also dissatisfied with a change of the electoral system. In the last 8 years Christian-Democrats enjoyed a steady rating ranging from 7 — 10%. The statistics indicates that it is very unlikely Christian-Democrat candidates would receive the majority of votes in uninominal constituencies, consequently a possible mixed system might substantially diminish Christian-Democrats performance in elections.

The relationships between authorities and opposition after three months of protests A new political situation