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Constitutional Court Decision: Yes for opportunities, No for solutions

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Igor Botan / February 14, 2011
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PCRM caught in its own trap

On February 8, 2011 the Constitutional Court (CC) has decided to discontinue consideration of notification of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) on interpretation of Article 90 of the Constitution concerning the deadlines for setting the date for presidential elections. PCRM’ declared interest was that provisions of Article 90 para. (4), according to which: “Within two months from the date on which the vacancy of the office of President of the Republic of Moldova occurred, the elections for a new President shall be organized in accordance with the law” — be interpreted by CC so that within 2 months of taking the interim office of the head by the newly-elected Speaker of Parliament, Marian Lupu, i.e. by the end of February 2011, the presidential elections should be held. The goal of PCRM was to benefit from the temporary deficit in order to undermine the arrangements within the Alliance for European Integration (AEI) vis-a-vis the presidential elections by threats to resort to boycotting the event if the PCRM conditions won’t be accepted and therefore to provoke early parliamentary elections.

To justify the possible use of the boycott and disclaimer to trigger early parliamentary elections, PCRM propaganda has substituted the issue of resorting to boycott with statements of PCRM’ impossibility to vote for the AEI candidate — Marian Lupu. The feedback regarding the PCRM’ right to propose its own candidate, who would compete with the AEI candidate, was dropped by invoking the need to find a compromise candidate for the position of the head of state, politically not affiliated, to be voted jointly by PCRM and AEI. Since there are no agreed criteria for the identification of such candidate, consultations would have to take place in this respect between partners who do not trust each other. It was actually a mission impossible for about three weeks time that would have remained, according to the PCRM plans, since the CC decision date (February 8, 2011), till the actual conduct of elections — the end of February.

Consequently, after the CC decision of February 8, PCRM got two temporary defeats:

Questions for PCRM

Broadly, CC decision of 8 February 2011 provides AEI with opportunities to have legitimately enough time to identify a definite solution for electing the head of state and for overcoming the institutional crisis. In this respect, the CC mentioned that it’s up to the Parliament to find the proper solution by amending the legislation, the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, through negotiations etc. However, it remains unclear until when the presidential elections might be postponed. The only landmark in this respect is the Article 85 para. (3) of the Constitution, which states that “During one year, the Parliament can be dissolved only once”. Since the early parliamentary elections are constantly and deliberately provoked by boycotting presidential elections, it is logical to assume that under the boycotting threat the deadline for presidential elections may be at least one year since previous dissolution, i.e. September 28, 2011. This reasoning is speculative, since there are no binding rules, and these have to be developed by Parliament.

CC decision was toughly criticized by PCRM, invoking all sorts of arguments and even insinuations. In this context, the PCRM leaders may be recommended to make a very simple exercise to get convinced that CC decision was a correct decision. They must answer the question — when the presidential elections should be held if the PCRM leader Vladimir Voronin had not resigned on 11 September 2009? The question is not trivial, since ex-President Vladimir Voronin could remain in presidential office until today. In addition, in order to make order in its own judgments, PCRM should answer to a series of questions:

Constitutional Court’s decision is the only correct one

Now let’s get back to the CC decision per se on setting the date for presidential elections. Firstly, considering that it’s about presidential elections when this position is vacant, the Article 90 para. (4) of the Constitution states that: “Within two months from the date on which the vacancy of the office of Moldovan President occurred, the elections for a new President shall be organized in accordance with the law”. In fact, according to Article 90 para. (I) of the Constitution, the vacancy occurred on April 7, 2009. Secondly, Vladimir Voronin, has exercised this function before and after presidential elections boycotted by liberals and democrats held in May and June 2009, until he was likely to get into incompatibility of the positions held, after September 14, 2009, which actually led him to present his resignation from the position of the head of state, since he was not sure he could succeed to boycott the presidential elections. If Vladimir Voronin had resigned from the MP office in favor of holding the position of the head of state, then he could being accused of usurpation of power, be suspended from his presidential office and the interim office would be taken over by the speaker of Parliament. It is this maneuver that made the Parliament to take note of the resignation of the head of state, and the CC to establish on September 17, 2009 the circumstances which justify the interim position of Moldovan President, which, according to Article 91 of the Constitution, shall be ensured, in order, by the Speaker of Parliament or the Prime Minister.

Following those mentioned above, things that highlighted PCRM’ behavior based on its own interests, this party addresses the CC and requests to interpret the norms of the Constitution on setting the presidential election date, again based on its own interests. In fact, it’s the right of PCRM to do so, but the interpretation of constitutional norm can not be based on a party’ interests, as well as it cannot have as reference point the events created by it in order to achieve its own interests. Interpretation of the Constitution must proceed from reference points expressly established by the text of the supreme law, without falling into dependence on the consequences of maneuvers made by politicians pursuing their own interests. For example, if Vladimir Voronin, in order to avoid incompatibilities described above, would have resigned in September 2009 from MP position, choosing the position of the head of state until the sworn by newly elected President, then since what date PCRM would calculate those famous two months to organize presidential elections? Only after the boycott of presidential elections in November-December 2009 the interim office of the head of state would not have been exercised by Mihai Ghimpu, then by Vlad Filat and then by Marian Lupu. This example shows unquestionably the relativism of PCRM’ judgments, as well as the unfounded and insinuated allegations against the CC for not having taken a decision that would fit PCRM.

Results of elections in Gagauzia and the post-electoral situation Confused Alliance