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Presidential elections 2009

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Igor Botan / May 19, 2009
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Patriotic betrayal — chance for the Republic of Moldova?

The ordinary presidential elections set for May 20, 2009 are a very serious test for Moldovan society. In fact, under the law concerning the procedure of election of Moldovan president, the elections should take place before the expiry date of the chief of state’s mandate, April 7, 2009. The authorities set the parliamentary elections so that to extend the mandate of the chief of state with at least two months. However, the 7th of April has become a reference date for the political history of the Republic of Moldova. The revolt along with the storming of the buildings of key public institutions, the Parliament and the Presidency, has a deeper significance than a banal political accident ended with serious material damages.

So far, the polarisation of the political class and division of society additionally halt the establishing of a new personnel configuration of ruling state bodies after the April 5, 2009 parliamentary elections. In consequence, European institutions have to call on government and opposition to resume the political dialogue in order to overcome the political crisis. They do not have any choice but to impose or threaten, as they respect the sovereignty of this country. The message of European institutions is very clear — the Republic of Moldova is the country of its citizens and these people and their political class must resolve their problems. However, one may note that a month and half after the sad event concerned no political dialogue is underway and this lack may challenge a very dangerous institutional blockage — the failure to elect a chief of state with 3/5 votes of elected parliamentarians.

All Moldovan political players and majority of citizens realise very well the danger of an institutional blockage which may occur in a couple of weeks, worsening more the effects of enfolding the political crisis and economic-financial crisis. Despite this comprehension, the only way to assess the blockage is perceived as imminently “corrupt”. Such a conclusion is based on statements delivered by the chief of state shortly after the April 5 elections and before the revolt two days later. Vladimir Voronin said that he would not negotiate with the opposition that means with the opposition leaders, but with members of the Parliament representing the opposition parties. Since then, the media supporting the opposition parties speaks about “golden vote” which any “traitor” among opposition lawmakers could give to the communist candidate who runs for the post of chief of state, either for a possible remuneration or public offices, or in exchange for quashing of criminal charges against some opposition parliamentarians. Of course, President Voronin meant the “patriotism” of eventual “traitors” whose reprehensible actions before the eventual manifestation of “patriotism” went through the “purgatory” of the PCRM-affiliated media.

In these circumstances, being invited by European institutions and their representatives to participate in a political dialogue with the government in order to overcome the political crisis, the opposition faces a dilemma, as in his quality of chairman of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) Vladimir Voronin said clearly and categorically that he would not discuss with opposition parties, while in his quality of president of Moldova, especially after meetings with European officials, the same Vladimir Voronin invites the opposition to participate in the political dialogue. This is not a false dilemma since even after the chief of state’s calls for a political dialogue the PCRM propaganda keeps associating the opposition leaders with “enraged dogs” and “enemies of statehood”. The conduct of the PCRM reveals that this party is not afraid of early elections but, on the contrary, seeks them. Why being afraid since Russia has clearly expressed support to the PCRM and the EU avoids threatening or punishing the Chisinau government for anti-democratic skidding. Therefore, the PCRM hints that it would not stop using its electoral methods and could even get a constitutional majority after early parliamentary elections. But one should not forget that reckon without their host are to reckon twice.

Boycott — opposition’s weapon against government’s abuses

In the light of the above, it is worth noting that the July 5, 2000 constitutional amendments impose indeed the necessity to establish a consensus between the government and the opposition, as it is very hard for any political party to get constantly more than 3/5 of seats in the Parliament in order to be able to elect a chief of state alone, without cooperating with other parties. Hereby, it was proved that the strongest lever of parliamentary parties is the boycott and threatening to block the election of chief of state, as the blockage was there during all four attempts to elect a chief of state beginning 2000. The blocked presidential elections in December 2000 led to the dissolution of the Parliament which was incapable to reach a consensus, and early parliamentary elections were scheduled.

At the April 4, 2001 presidential elections the 11 parliamentarians representing the smallest parliamentary faction of the Christian Democratic People’s Party (PPCD) boycotted the election of chief of state, but the blockage was avoided since the PCRM held more than 3/5 mandates in the Parliament. Before the April 4, 2005 presidential elections the PCRM seemingly realised the necessity of a consensus or at least circumstances and pressures by the Russian Federation imposed the national consensus on European integration. However, the way the March 6, 2005 parliamentary elections took place made the largest parliamentary faction “Moldova Noastra” (Our Moldova) Alliance, which had 23 seats in the Parliament, boycott the elections but failed to block the election of chief of state.

Now, on the eve of the May 20, 2009 presidential elections, all components of the parliamentary factions which have 41 seats altogether promise to boycott the elections so that blocking the election of chief of state depends on patriotic betrayal of one or more opposition lawmakers. It is worth mentioning that after the PCRM won the governing in 2001 the number of lawmakers who boycott the election of chief of state has grown with almost a geometrical progression. This is a result of the PCRM rule and the manner to comprehend the constitutional norm, which imposes the necessity of a consensus between government and opposition, as it was said above. The political crisis faced by Moldova is the clear effect of the conduct of PCRM, which calls for a consensus when it needs it, like it happened in 2005, and gives up ostentatiously when it does need it, like in 2007. The distrust of a massive segment of people and opposition towards the PCRM was fuelled by the methods used by the latter to strengthen its force outside of the political consensus — harassment of the opposition, laundering of people’s brains via the media holding, massive misuse of administrative resources via the “vertical of power” etc.

Table: Results of presidential elections after the modification of Constitution on July 5, 2000
 DateCandidatesVotes garnered
1.4.12.2000, first roundPavel Barbalat, chairman, Constitutional Court37
Vladimir Voronin, parliamentarian, chairman of PCRM48
 15 invalid ballots
6.12.2000, run-offPavel Barbalat, chairman, Constitutional Court35
Vladimir Voronin, parliamentarian, chairman of PCRM50
 13 invalid ballots
21.12.2000, repeat electionsExcerpt from the Constitutional Court Decision “Bill # 4 from 26.12.2000 concerning the establishing of circumstances which justify the dissolution of the Parliament”:
On the scheduled day, the special public sitting of the Parliament and respectively the repeat presidential elections did not take place because of the lack of quorum (61 lawmakers). Only 46 lawmakers attended the sitting, though 52 deputies were registered on the presence list…The blocking by majority of members of the Parliament of the December 21, 2000 special public sitting of the Parliament for repeat election of President of the Republic of Moldova is a circumstance which justifies the dissolution of the 14th Legislature of the Republic of Moldova.
2.4.04.2001, first roundVladimir Voronin, parliamentarian, chairman of PCRM71
Valerian Cristea, parliamentarian of PCRM3
Dumitru Braghis, parliamentarian, “Alianta Braghis” faction15
 0 invalid votes
Commentary: 11 lawmakers representing the Christian Democratic People’s Party boycotted the election of chief of state
3.4.04.2005, first roundVladimir Voronin, President of the Republic of Moldova, chairman of PCRM75
Gheorghe Duca, chairman of the Academy of Sciences, PCRM1
 2 invalid votes
Commentary: 23 parliamentarians representing the “Moldova Noastra” Alliance boycotted the election of chief of state
4.20.05.2009, first roundZinaida Greaceanii, acting prime minister, PCRM 
Stanislav Groppa, neurological surgeon, PCRM 
Commentary: 41 parliamentarians representing the three opposition parties — PLDM, PL and AMN — bozcotted the election of chief of state with the purpose to challenge early parliamentary elections

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