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Public Discussion: Anti-Chirtoaca referendum: to take part or to boycott it, where do we put the mark on the ballot paper?

Press Release
on the organization of the debate
Anti-Chirtoaca referendum: to take part or to boycott it, where do we put the mark on the ballot paper?”.  Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”

Held on October 30, Debate 79 brought together Ion Ceban, head of the Socialist group in the Chisinau Council; Ion Cebanu, head of the Liberal group; Ecaterina Mardarovici, executive director of the Gender Equality Platform, as expert; and Igor Boțan, director of ADEPT, as the Project’s standing expert.

Why this subject and selection of speakers?

The debate is dedicated to the upcoming referendum to remove Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, and the public, Chisinau’s residents in particular, ought to be better informed and prepared for a conscious and judicial decision. This particular referendum should also be regarded from the perspective that it was proposed by a political party that seems to have a penchant for advocating referenda as a solution for a large variety of problems facing the country. And this despite referenda being not particurly popular among Moldovans, judging by their frequency and the turnouts, as a tool of participatory democracy.

In the Chisinau Municipal Council there are three main positions on the referendum: 1. the promoters, 2. the opponents (or the boycotters), and 3. the bystanders. The first two positions were represented in the debate by the heads of the Socialist Group and of the Liberal Group, respectively, but the third position could not be represented, after the representative of the European People’s Group accepted the invitation only to cancel later. The experts were asked to fill this gap.

In particular, Director of the Association for Participatory Democracy Igor Botan, standing expert of IPN’s project, said that under the law the referendum is equal to elections and all the procedures are similar. However, the elections imply persons and their programs, while the referendum implies ideas, policy projects and are bipolar, where the elector votes “yes” or “no”. The referendum on dismissal is a vote of no confidence against a particular person. There are a multitude of problems related to this referendum, including the lack of culture of participation in such exercises. It is bad that Dorin Chirtoaca cannot take part in this referendum, but it is the citizen who decides whether to take part in the vote or not and how to vote.

Ion Ceban, chairman of the Socialist group on the Chisinau Municipal Council, said there are no and should be no political arguments as to the administration of the city and his earlier speeches definitely didn’t contain such arguments, if only arguments about the management. There should be efficient administration in the city, not struggles against Putin, Trump, tanks etc. If the people like and want to walk further on damaged sidewalks and to be told to give bribe when they go to the City Hall after certificates, they can boycott the referendum, but the decision makers with huge powers didn’t manage the city efficiently and committed numerous irregularities and should be held accountable.

Ion Cebanu, chairman of the Liberal group on the CMC, said there are a series of legal arguments showing that this referendum is illegal and generates only disorder. The citizens have no reasons to take part in this plebiscite, which is just a whim of the Socialists who are noxious for the Republic of Moldova because they want to collect votes and destroy this country’s future by cheap populism. Owing to the Socialists, hundreds of draft decisions wait to be examined by the CMC for years, while the Party of Socialists stages shows and only criticize, but didn’t submit proposals and solutions. They understand that they lose this referendum and after the day of November 19 will have to answer before the people what they spent 9 million lei on.

Expert Ecaterina Mardarovici, executive director of the Gender Equality Platform, said the citizens of Chisinau municipality should take a break until the next elections and analyze things very well so as to assume the next vote. The supporters of Dorin Chirtoaca voted him in and should assume responsibility for the mistakes made in the management and for what wasn’t done. One should not go and vote in a referendum because a group of the CMC wants the mayor to be dismissed. It is also not fair not to allow the mayor to take part in the campaign prior to the referendum and to present his position. Moreover, if it is about immorality, as the Socialists assert in the case of Dorin Chirtoaca, the whole political class should be dismissed in such a case.

The Agency published 5 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 30.10.17, „Anti-Chirtoaca referendum: to take part or to boycott it, where and why should we put a tick?, IPN debate” -; „Igor Boțan: Moldova lacks culture of participation in referendums” -; „Ecaterina Mardarovich: Residents of Chisinau should take a break until next elections” -; on 31.10.17, „Ion Ceban: If referendum fails, Dorin Chirtoaca will return to Chisinau City Hall” -; „Ion Cebanu: Referendum is nothing else but political revenge” -

IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN


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