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The stake in elections and possible post-electoral scenarios

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Igor Botan / November 21, 2010
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What is at stake in elections of November 28, 2010

The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) wants to take revenge at any cost. PCRM leaders constantly repeat that on April 7, 2009 their electoral victory got two days earlier was stolen. Thus, that’s the revenge at stake in the early parliamentary elections of November 28, 2010, otherwise they wouldn’t resort to boycotts, on the one hand, and attempts to overcome the deadlock caused by them through referendum, and other actions, on the other hand. For these reasons, the PCRM slogan — “Moldova chooses Victory!” should be read as — “Moldova chooses revenge!”. At the other pole of Moldovan political spectrum there is an echo of reply, expressed in the slogan — “Change to the end!”, promoted by the Liberal Party (PL), meaning not allowing the revenge. PL and other components of the Alliance for European Integration (AEI) believe in the repeat elections of July 29, 2009 PCRM has lost the power and the accounts have been settled. However, the slogans and behaviour of PCRM and PL express exactly the polarization degree of the society.

It would be an illusion to believe that polarization occurs on doctrinal grounds — communism vs. liberalism. PCRM exploits with much talent the nostalgia of citizens impoverished during the so-called transition period. Thus, the ghost of communism that collapsed 20 years ago produces major electoral effects today. If the ghost of communism brings profit to the PCRM, then why the fight with this ghost — anti-communism, promoted by the PL, would not bring profit too. Besides confronting the ghosts, the PL has good reasons to be angry with the PCRM, which in April 2007, absolutely unexpected, declared the liberal revolution (!) in Moldova. And this happened without asking permission from liberals title holders, which may be construed as a qualified theft. In response, in the 2009 parliamentary elections, the PL made to citizens an offer that is more socialist than that of the communist-liberals from the PCRM. Subsequently, on April 7, the PL participated in the theft of PCRM’s victory.

From those mentioned above it is difficult to understand where are the reasons for antagonism and polarization? Yet, they actually exist in the types of nationalism promoted by both the PCRM and the PL — Moldovan and Romanian, accordingly. The confrontation between the two parties evokes, in fact, the struggle of 20 years ago between Moldovenism and Romanianism. The irony of fate is that although a generation has changed, the current leaders of the PCRM and the PL are the former active players during the collapse of USSR that still continue today to fight fiercely for revenge and change. That is, the same masks and the same play, just different background scenery and context. The major intrigue in the current context of political struggle is the fact that the PL radicalism struck by ricochet in the AEI partners — the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), but especially in the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM), to which by extension the PL qualities were attributed. It is in this sense that PCRM leaders declared the PL leader and interim President of the country, Mihai Ghimpu, the best Communist agitator. This indisputable truth is fixed in the PCRM electoral videos, but is challenged by the PDM in courts. The results of the November 28 elections will show how well the Liberal leader fulfilled the assigned function.

In revenge, for a total satisfaction, PCRM would like to settle accounts with their own “products” of the highest quality. Thus, the best political product of the PCRM during its eight ruling years (2001–2008) is Marian Lupu — European face of the party during the period 2005–2009, who along with the best PCRM product in business — Vlad Plahotniuc, are on the top of the PDM list of candidates, a party that in 2009 tipped the victory scales in favour of AEI. Dialectically speaking, the two outstanding products of the PCRM confirmed the Marxist maximum, according to which each party bears its own gravedigger. In this sense, a major intrigue of November 28 elections is whether PCRM, metaphorically speaking, will be buried for good or it will bury its gravedigger. A third way, so dear to modern social democracy, is not excluded.

Out of AEI components, only PLDM succeeded somehow to detach from involvement in election scandals, willing to emphasize that even during the campaign the party leaders are overwhelmed by concerns for the common good. Thus in the last two pre-election months, the PLDM leader, Vlad Filat, appears in the eyes of voters as:

No wonder that in these circumstances PLDM grows in the polls. So far, we can say for certain that this growth is done mainly at the expense of AIE allies and less for the PCRM account.

The above-mentioned comes to support that, in fact, the electoral intrigue will continue until the closure of polling stations on 28th of November, when the PCRM might gain an absolute majority of seats in Parliament that would mean that Moldova has chosen Victory i.e. PCRM got its revenge. Otherwise, if in any month later the AEI governance will be remade, then it can be said that the Change to the end occurred. Any other scenarios will be treated as treason, similar to that of April 4, 2005. These are the horizons of Moldovan politics.

Scenarios and potential coalitions

The first surprise, which AEI leaders shall have after elections, will be that the first session for the formation of the newly elected Parliament will be chaired by the PCRM leader Vladimir Voronin as the eldest MP. The irony of fate is that A E Ileaders should pray to God so that it would happen precisely like that, because, otherwise it can only be if the PCRM will gain at least 60 seats out of 101. These are obvious things that emerge from the examination of the lists of candidates of those parties that have good chances to get into the Parliament. The symbolism related to chairing the first meeting of Parliament by Vladimir Voronin will be difficult to overrate, that if he, as he is used to, won’t decide to boycott the parliamentary sittings or to leave for Christmas vacation to Karlovy Vary.

Passing over symbolic things, one can say that the fate of the Republic of Moldova will be difficult to predict if even after the elections of November 28 the political situation will remain unstable. Therefore, after the elections, political leaders will feel pressed by the need to find viable solutions to this deadlock. In that sense, this could lead to justification of possible betrayals, after an electoral battle without compromise. In fact, there won’t be major problems regarding the political stability only if the PCRM will get a simple majority in Parliament, with the opportunity not only to appoint its own Government, but also to solve the problem of presidential elections, even in the absence of qualified majority of 3/5. The chances in this respect are quite reduced. Difficulties or even misunderstandings will occur if it would be necessary to establish a ruling alliance, either by a simple majority, or by a qualified one of at least 3/5 seats. For establishing any alliances, it will be practically inevitable to:

Due to the lack of communication ability among political leaders, the formalization of relations within the possible alliance seems to be the only solution for future governance that would be more or less stable and responsible. Recent example of AEI, when Speaker of Parliament, holding also the interim office of the head of state, has set out an agenda that is not coordinated with partners, diverting the whole AEI activity from the priority and pressing things regarding the settlement of socio-economic problems, — can not remain without attention. In this sense, the AEI positions regarding the main opponent — PCRM, have been seriously injured, especially the PDM positions, which is depending on sympathies of Russophile electorate that the PCRM plans to regain. Also, the behaviour of Prime Minister Vlad Filat acting in a selfish way, especially when it was about involving individual responsibility for projects which would be also supported with great zeal by partners, is highly appreciated. It is true that Vlad Filat resorted to specific methods of cooperation after the interim President, Mihai Ghimpu, got involved in uncoordinated, proactive actions on adopting a new constitution or on quarrelling with Russia, based on historical truth. And all this in conditions when, according to the decision of the Constitutional Court of September 17, 2009, which justified the exercise of holding the interim office of the head of state, it was established: “In strict legal sense, the President represents the state and act on behalf of the state, having in this regard the support of the society”. It is still an enigma — as a substitute to the President, whose support was provided to Mihai Ghimpu, may be that of the AEI partners, who elected him to the position of the Speaker of Parliament? And then why he got angry with appropriate reactions of the Prime Minister Filat, reaching up to the stage of declaring as unconstitutional the assumed responsibility by Prime Minister when he signed the Treaty on border regime with Romania. Damages for such conduct and statements are still to be assessed, including on the day of November 28.

According to the data revealed by opinion polls, there are several, more or less realistic, scenarios regarding the formation of eventual coalitions. It is difficult to estimate the likelihood of these scenarios, because there are a number of factors, the impact of which on the eve of elections can not be properly estimated. These factors refer to the following:

Based on the circumstances revealed by the latest opinion polls and taking into account factors affecting the coalition, one can assume that the probability of establishing alliances will be decreasing, as follows:

Factions of newly elected Parliament will have to move very quickly after the elections, otherwise complications will occur. Thus, eventual difficulties related to establishing the ruling coalition may generate confusion regarding the interim office of the head of state. The point is that at the first meeting of Parliament, the current Speaker will appear as an ordinary MP, automatically losing the quality of the country’s interim President, which is now held only because he holds the position of the Speaker of Parliament. At least that is what the logic dictates. So, the vacancy of the presidential office will be vacant, a situation which is not regulated because this phenomenon will happen for the first time. In this context, it is unclear whether the vacancy of the vacancy of presidential office would be taken over by the Prime Minister according to the Constitution, since under Article 103 he will also be required to present before the newly-elected Parliament the Government’s resignation, and the Executive will have to perform only technical functions of public affairs management until the new government is appointed. In this case, the confusion may also involve the awarding of orders and medals, whereas during the last year it was found that citizens deserve to be massively decorated. And then, who will be entitled to award these orders and medals, at least wasting the stocks? It is not clear.

Possible scenarios for presidential elections

The problem of presidential elections after the elections of November 28 will, in principle, a resolvable one, in the sense that there are various ways to avoid deadlocks with negative and lasting consequences for the political stability in the country. It is important not to proceed to wasting the two attempts of electing the head of state, provided by the Constitution, unless a certain formula of success is found. Otherwise, the constitutional provision on the imminent dissolution of parliament and early elections will be applicable. In this regard, there will be probably the condescension from political forces, Constitutional Court and international bodies, all of them understanding the need to break through the vicious circle.

In the sense of those mentioned above, it should be taken into consideration that there is a constitutional constraint related to terms. Under Article 90 of the Constitution “within 2 months from the date when the presidential office was announced as vacant the elections for a new President will be held in accordance with the law”. At the first meeting of the new Parliament, in fact, not the vacancy will intervene, but the vacancy of vacancy of the presidential office and it is unclear whether the two month period to elect the new head of state is applicable to this kind of vacancy. Just in case, if necessary, it would be right to make it possible to ignore this provision so that the Parliament would not be pressed by time, being able to find a safe solution for the presidential election.

In principle, there are three options to resolve the problem of presidential election:

All procedures and precedents for eventual achievement of the third option were made by the AEI, therefore, its components could reproduce them again, this time successfully, or to pay a high price if the PCRM obtains a simple majority in Parliament. In principle, there are no legal or moral arguments that would prevent the PCRM to repeat the procedures developed and even applied by the AEI. Not repeating these procedures would really be revenge against nihilistic legal practices of the AEI.

Conclusions

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