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Does the Year Bear Good Signs?

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Igor Botan / January 10, 2005
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On Christmas Eve, December 24, 2004, the Parliament adopted the decision No.444-XV setting the day of parliamentary elections. Organizing elections on March 6 is in full accordance with the provisions of the constitution of the Republic of Moldova (RM), of the electoral code and of a series of decisions of the Constitutional Court regarding the expiration of the mandate of the parliament and organization of elections of the new parliament. It is remarkable that the provisions of the law No.1234-XIV regarding the procedure of electing the president of RM were also taken into consideration, so that, theoretically, the new head of state can be elected by the Parliament before the expiration on April 8 of the mandate of the present President.

Another event that enjoyed positive comments from the media was the Appeal of the President of RM Vladimir Voronin to the Council of Observers of the National Public Institution of the Audiovisual the Company “Teleradio-Moldova”, in which he required from this body to adopt measures to “exclude the wrong or biased interpretation of any information about the present activity of the power”. Finally, the speech of the president Voronin in the autumn-winter session of the Parliament, , set common guide-marks for the power and the opposition: ensuring in 2005 elections which will express the real will of people: united movement towards European principles; Achievement of the Strategy for Economic Development and Poverty Reduction; country modernization in order to obtain the statute of associated member and then of the member of the European Union.

At the first sight, the three events mentioned above, preceding the beginning of the electoral campaign, show the fact that there are positive tendencies in Moldovan politics. There is no doubt that any political force of opposition with a certain weight in RM except the Union of the Citizens “Patria-Rodina”, promoting a policy of exclusive integration with Russia, can subscribe to the principles listed by the head of the state.

However, the positive character of the above mentioned tendencies must not be exaggerated. Firstly, it seems obvious that the positive tendencies are rather a manifestation of the “ survival instinct” of the power. The “pragmatic wing” of the governing party decided, probably, to surrender to the danger of what the head of the state called the “epidemics” that affected Georgia and Ukraine. Secondly, the so-called pragmatists in the governing party understood, probably, that they cannot totally ignore the urgings of international democratic institutions and those of the leaders of the most influent democracies to organize free and fair elections. Finally, the main opposition forces — the Popular Christian Democratic Party (PCDP), the Block “Moldova Democrata” (“Democratic Moldova”) (BDM) and the Social Democratic Party (SDP) conveyed very clear messages to the government that they do not believe in their good intentions.

Thus, after adopting on December 15, 2004 the decision regarding the electoral color, the Permanent Bureau of PCDP sent the following message to everyone: “The orange color became already the sign of benefic innovations in our region. After Romania and Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova is the country that must feel the strong impact of the CHANGE, a change marked by the ORANGE color.” In his turn, BDM organized a series of manifestations of block inauguration during which it accused the present power of promoting a dictatorial policy, of intimidating the opposition, warning them that the justice system will have them pay for the committed abuses. Finally, the electoral campaign began with a scandal related to the fact that SDP attacked in the Supreme Court of Justice the decision of the Central Electoral Committee (CEC) of December 26, 2004, establishing the date, place and time for submission of the documents by potential electoral competitors. PSD accused CEC and the governing party of violating the legislation and falsifying elections, since according to the article 44(2) of the Electoral Code the information regarding the place and the time for receiving documents from the electoral competitors “is made public within 2 days after the beginning of the period of candidates’ appointment”. The reasons given by the SDP are based on article 1 of the Electoral Code according to which “the electoral period” begins “on the day when the date of elections is made public”, supposing that it means the day when the decision of the Parliament enters into force, i.e. the day when this decision is published in Monitorul Oficial (Official Monitor).

Actually, the essence of the accusations brought by SDP to the government is reduced to the fact that they manipulated a series of events in order to ensure the registration of the governing party as the first electoral competitor, which, according to article 48(3) of the electoral Code means that this party will be listed first in the ballots too.

Indeed, without consulting the other parliament parties in advance, the majority party in the parliament only in the second half of the day of December 24 stated the intention to put the draft decision regarding the date for the organization of parliamentary elections on the agenda of the plenary session that very day. In the opinion of the Popular Christian Democratic Party, by doing this, the majority party violated a series of articles from chapters 1 and 2 of Title II of the Parliament Regulations regarding the agenda and the legislative procedure. Moreover, this decision was voted by the majority in the parliament, despite the fact that the article 2 of it provided that “the decision enters into force on the day when it is adopted”, which contradicts the law No. 173-XIII on 6.07.1994 on publication and enforcement of official documents. The majority party did not take into consideration the decision No. 20 of 20.04.1999 which stipulates that “according to article 1 par. (4) of the law mentioned above, the decisions of the parliament enter into force: on the day they are published in the Official Monitor or on the day mentioned in the text (i.e. on the day of their publishing or eventual date provided by the legislative). The official documents entering into force on the day provided in the text are published in the official Monitor within 10 days since its adoption.” Next day after the adoption of the decision regarding the elections day the governing party summoned the Plenary Session of the Central Committee during which it adopted the list of candidates and after two days, on December 26, 2004, CEC called a meeting during which it adopted the decision regarding the place and the time for submitting documents of registration of electoral competitors. On the next day, on December 27, 2004, the governing party was the first to submit the necessary documents for registration to CEC as the first electoral competitor.

Thus, the article 2 of the decision of the parliament regarding its enforcement on the day of adoption mislead CEC, which could only call the meeting for the establishment of the place and the time for submission of documents according to article 25(2) providing that “CEC meetings are announced 48 hours before their organization, except the meetings during the electoral campaigns, when they must be announced in a shorter term if the issues need urgent examination”.

Now the question is: what did the governing party get from these actions of taking by surprise the political opponents in order to be in the first ones in the ballots?

The answer seems to be — nothing, besides a political scandal which promises to have a high resonance damaging the image and feeding the suspicions of the opposition and of international organizations specialized in monitoring the elections, while the president of the governing party ensures the public opinion of the intention to guarantee unilaterally honest elections. The undertaken actions actually have a reversed effect.

Indeed, in the elections in 1998 the Communist party was listed first in the ballots, accumulating 30 per cent of the votes, while in 2001 it obtained 50 per cent of votes though it was the third party on the list. So, taking the opponents by surprise and chasing the first place in the ballots had no sense. Secondly, the actions of the governing party raised some delicate questions, like the one related to the violation of the provisions of the Convention regarding the standards of democratic elections, electoral rights and freedoms in the CIS countries ratified in July 2004. However it is not known if this Convention entered into force or not even after the announcement of the election date. Thus, the legislative framework ensuring the organization of elections is not clear. Thirdly, the failure to recognize the mistakes leads to other mistakes. Thus, the attempts to justify post — factum the CEC decision are not convincing anyway. In this context it is interesting that the Official Monitor No. 241, which contained the parliament decision related to the election date, issue that was supposed to be published on December 27, 2004 was distributed to the beneficiaries for free only on December 31, 2004 together with No. 242–245 of the Official Monitor. This is a fact that indicates that the issue in which the parliament decision was written post-factum, after SDP appealed to the court. Indeed, what was the point to publish on December 27 a special edition of only 18 pages of the Official Monitor, which would be distributed together with another edition of 130 pages, on December 31, while the experience shows that certain editions of official monitors have 250 pages, especially as the dates of the adoption of published documents in the two editions coincide. But it does not save the situation, as the decision of CEC regarding the time and place for submitting the documents of the electoral competitors was adopted a day before, on December 26. Fourthly, the appeal of SDP to court put the latter in an extremely delicate situation. Indeed, a court decision in favor of the governing party can have unpredictable consequences for the electoral process in the RM, while a decision to invalidate a CEC decision requires the invalidation of the decision of the Parliament regarding the setting of the elections date, as it is not clear when it was enforced.

Unfortunately, under these circumstances, CEC will be the one to bear all the shocks and will be bound to find a way to bring things to normal, which would be impossible without the involvement of the Parliament, the only body with the right to amend and interpret the normative acts. But the Parliament is in vacation until February and until then it can be summoned only in an extraordinary session. It is possible that the opposition parties will insist on an extraordinary session motivating it by the need to bring the electoral process to normal, but especially in order to obtain the largest audience to publicly accuse the governing party of acting according to the principle of the kind king Dagobert — “what do you need the power for, if you do not abuse it”, as well as to remind the citizens that there are reasons to believe that in this new year the Rooster will announce the Awakening and eventually the CHANGE.

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