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Political year 2010

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Igor Botan / December 31, 2010
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Overview

The political instability caused by temporary governance has generally featured the year 2010. Efforts aimed to remedy reasons of the uncertainty did not produce the expected results but the organisation of the republican constitutional referendum, parliamentary and regional elections proved the functionality of democratic institutions even in conditions of political instability which generate anti-democratic actions, camouflaged through efforts to overcome the political crisis. Resorting to voluntary actions like unplanned modification of legislation and regulations during activities regulated by these rules did not have any irreparable negative impact. In this regard, it is worth to note that the world Democracy Index calculated by the British magazine The Economist Intelligent Unit ranks the Republic of Moldova among faulty democracies before Ukraine, with all other CIS members keeping being hybrid or even authoritarian regimes.

Given the regional political and economic context, one may say that 2010 was a relative good year for Moldova. The Government even under provisory conditions succeeded to stop the decline and revive the economy of the country. The best success in 2010 was the re-dimensioning of relations with the European Union. In January 2010 the sides started negotiating the new Association Agreement and adopted in March the strategic document “Rethink Moldova” to set development priorities of Moldova for 2011–2013, priorities to enjoy a strong financial support from the EU. Meetings of the Moldova-EU Cooperation Councils formally opened a dialogue to build a free economic zone between Moldova and EU, as well as to liberalise visa regime. Finally, special relations with the EU opened new prospects for the Transnistrian settlement.

Started and suspended reforms

The Government of the Alliance for European Integration (AIE) started a series of reforms accordingly to the governing programme for 2009–2013: “European Integration: Freedom, Democracy, Welfare”. But the temporariness of the governance and politicised public administration made AIE members care about own electoral interests to the detriment of a strengthened ruling. In consequence, a series of reforms promised in ruling programme were suspended, waiting for a political stability after early parliamentary elections. The best example in this respect is the rule of law, which was expected to be reforms through new laws on the bar, liberalisation of the execution system etc. However, deficiencies signalled in the Parliament Declaration concerning the rule of law in the Republic of Moldova[1] were not remedied at all.

In fact, the declaration concerned started antagonising relations between political authorities and magistrates. The Parliament further approved legislative modifications and a list including judiciary forces which cannot contest eventual acts on dismissal in the legal department or Constitutional Court. Magistrates regarded these actions as targeting at independence and immovability of judges, SCM members and prosecutors, and the Constitutional Court confirmed in late 2010 that the legislative amendments concerned were unconstitutional. Other serious failures were related to attempts to illegally dismiss the head of the Supreme Court of Justice, to dissolve the economic courts, unmotivated appeals to lift certain MPs from immunity, failure to investigate the April 7, 2009 events, to revise doubtful privatisations, unconstitutional regulations seeking the sanctioning of judges for irregular interpretation or application of legislation etc. None of actions needed to improve the rule of law imposed by PD no.53 as of 30.10.2009 was achieved[2]. Nor priority actions foreseen by the governing programme on reformation of the rule of law, strengthening of national integrity and anti-corruption system were achieved on time.

The central public administration reform also stagnated in 2010. Reorganisations in the public administration area were based on political reasons and sharing of public offices from the central level (offices of deputy ministers) to representation in the region (heads and deputy chiefs of territorial offices of the State Chancellery). In these circumstances, the situation in the area should be the least revised and a new administrative reform strategy should be drafted and adopted, but nothing was done, as theoretical and administrative efforts were required at the beginning. Situation in the area of local public administration reform has also stagnated, and a clear strategy in the sector was not worked out, with legislators focussing on reform experiments related to the Chisinau administration but did not apply them.

There are many other examples proving that the AIE components were interested in maintaining the status quo until early elections, given the temporary governance.

Electoral process

Four electoral campaigns took place in Moldova in 2010 — two national campaigns and two regional campaigns, in Gagauzia and Transnistria. The results of these campaigns may open a new development round in Moldova. Moldova held a republican referendum and early parliamentary elections, which so far did not settle the institutional crisis, but brought in principle some premises for removing obstacles on way of electing a chief of state in 2011, so that to avoid the dissolution of Parliament and organisation of early parliamentary elections in 2012.

Preparations for the constitutional referendum started after leaders of the four-member AIE gave green light on March 9, 2010 to an initiative by the acting president Mihai Ghimpu to adopt a new draft constitution through a referendum, which text was drafted within three months by a special commission instituted by Ghimpu. The draft constitution was calling for the direct election of chief of state, and the final and transitory regulations of constitution which should be adopted through referendum before June 16, 2010 were stipulating that the Parliament should not be dissolved but function till the end of the four-year mandate.

The volunteerism and juridical nihilism thus manifested by the AIE exponents were deactivated by reports and attitudes by the Venice Commission. It means the scandal related not only to the intention to ignore the imperative constitutional regulation on dissolution of Parliament after two failures to elect the chief of state by adopting a new constitution, without cancelling legal relations foreseen by constitution in effect. The mechanism of holding a constitutional referendum under an extreme schema explained by the May 5, 2010 Constitutional Court decision motivated AIE leaders to hold a referendum aimed to modify Article 78 of Constitution with the purpose to introduce the direct election of chief of state. The referendum concerned held on September 5 failed because of absenteeism. Although it was inopportune and harmful for constitutional stability of Moldova, the referendum allowed procedures which could be freely used to elect a chief of state in 2011 without dissolving the Parliament. For this purpose, just some articles of the Electoral Code should be modified, but foreign partners who mediated the situation in 2010 should be consulted.

The November 28 early elections brought somehow expected results. The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) failed to take revenge against liberal party, as it garnered by about 5 percent less votes than at the previous elections and keeps being in opposition. Thus, the PCRM realised that the policy of fuelling phobias in society constantly reduces the rating.

On the other hand, the Liberal Party, promoter of policy of sleeve jokers, of decreeing historical truths and awarding all those with merits understood that these methods bring effects contrary to those expected, despite the concomitant running of two out of three supreme state offices. Therefore, the PL of interim president Mihai Ghmpu saw its electoral support dropping by about 1/3! In its turn, the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) succeeded just to reedit the electoral result got last year, being taken in the toils that the AIE partners are behind open intrigues against this party. The Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) doubled its electoral score compared with 2009, but understood that the success raises envy both of enemies and partners who invoked the lack of fair-play by PLDM, sometimes they even provided arguments. Finally, the AIE was rebuilt by the end of the year, after a month of negotiations on the knife edge. However, dissensions between AIE leaders will unlikely stop.

Elections in Gagauzia held last December led to the re-election of Governor Mihail Formuzal, an unprecedented situation in the region. The elections indicated three political forces in Gagauzia which have almost same weight — the United Gagauzia Movement (MGU) led by Governor Mihail Formuzal; the New Gagauzia Movement (MGN) headed by Comrat Mayor Nicolai Dudoglo; and the local branch of PCRM. It is noteworthy that these three forces made factions in the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia after the 2008 regional parliamentary elections. Cooperation between MGN and PCRM in the People’s Assembly will keep make heavy weather to Governor Mihail Formuzal, whose electoral victory is contested by Nicolai Dudoglo, who was recently defeated by about 3 percent. On the other hand, if the political configuration in Gagauzia does not radically change, Nicolai Dudoglo will be the No.1 electoral candidate for the post of governor after an electoral cycle, as Mihail Formuzal will be unable to run for this office after two consecutive mandates.

The legislative elections in Transnistria led to the victory of the “Obnovlenye” Party, which got 28 out of 43 seats in the Supreme Soviet. Thus, “Obnovlenye” needs one more seat to enjoy a constitutional majority, and this is very important in the framework of political races related to constitutional amendments set for 2011 before the December-scheduled presidential elections in the region. “Obnovlenye” leaders clearly expressed their decision to change the situation of this party which holds the constitutional majority but does not rule the region, as the presidential regime in Transnistria gives all executive authority to the president who makes the cabinet of ministers the way he wants. However, the victory of “Obnovlenye”, which tabled plans to nominate a candidate to the 2011 presidential elections, may have major consequences on political developments in the Transnistrian region.

Transnistrian settlement

A series of events in 2010 discovered a new potential to settle the Transnistrian conflict. On May 17, 2010, Ukrainian and Russian Presidents Viktor Yanukovich and Dmitri Medvedev signed three statements in Kiev: concerning European security; concerning security in the Black Sea area; and concerning the Transnistrian settlement. Of course, the Transnistrian settlement was approached under Matryoshka principle in regional (Black Sea area) and European frameworks. Following the Russian-Ukrainian statement, it was reported during a Mersburg meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev on June 7, 2010 that the Transnistrian issue could be included into agenda of the Russian-EU Committee on Foreign Policy and Security at level of foreign ministers.

It is worth noting in the framework of facts above that the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it sent a draft document on joint efforts in the “5+2” format to the European Commission in July 2010. The draft is important as the Russian side regards it as capable to help build a common responsibility area of Russia and EU with the purpose to ensure security and settle conflicts. Previously, when the Eastern Partnership was introduced, Russia was strongly protesting against ‘common responsibility area’.

The Transnistrian issue was also discussed during the Russian-French-German summit in Deauville last October. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said that Transnistrian settlement talks could restart after electoral process in Moldova and Russia will back the process should the conflicting parties take a constructive attitude. However, this did not happen. Even worse, the December 1–2, 2010 OSCE summit in Astana failed to sign the political declaration and action plan because of divergences around specific settlement principles and parameters for long-term conflicts in the OSCE area, inclusively the Transnistrian conflict.

Expectations for 2011

Year 2011 will probably be difficult for Moldova. If in 2010 the AIE had to survive to the PCRM revenge, in 2011 it will have to test the loyalty of its components towards commitments from the agreement on rebuilding and functioning of this alliance. Key challenges for the AIE will be related to approaching the president election issue. Certain proceedings in accordance with constitutional and legal regulations could be found for sure, so that to elect the chief of state, but the AIE shall coordinate its efforts. Given the vicious circle around election of chief of state, there are no express terms for this purpose, so that there is much room to set terms in order to successfully achieve this exercise.

The second major challenge for the AIE is related to the local elections set for early summer. The race for the Chisinau City Hall could seriously undermine the AIE cohesion. Therefore, a political stability could be observed just after election of district councils in July 2011.

  1. PD nr.53/30.10.2009
  2. The Parliament Decision was foreseeing: • the reformation and optimisation of the judiciary system; • the reformation of SCM competences; • full transparency of the rule of law and SCM activity; • the elaboration of modern training programmes for judges; • the responsiveness of judges for their decisions; • appropriate welfare of judges; • examination by SCM of accordance of the post of those who do not respect the exigencies for judges in a democratic state based on the rule of law
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