Forester came and dispersed everyone or Why didn’t it go well? IPN analysis

“And if this call is not sufficiently convincing through the angle of political traditions, practices and interests, through the angle of the capacity to reasonably manage the resources invested in achieving the political goals, it cannot be ignored without the risk of building the image of having inappropriate behavior before society...”

Old-new idea

The idea of this analysis is older and was to be titled “Elections in Chisinau: what and why didn’t it go well?”. By this, following fresh traces, we were to also draw conclusions from the experience of the early mayoral elections held in Chisinau, but before their invalidation. But the situation shortly degraded a lot and even the problem of election invalidation was somehow shadowed by bigger problems, including the crisis in the Moldova – European Union relationship. Nevertheless, the intention of seeing the full part of the glass even after the unprecedented decision to annul the people’s vote, can remain valid in the new conditions too.

Owing to or despite?

The general perception is that the result of the mayoral elections held in Chisinau municipality on May 20 and June 3 was obtained rather despite than owing to most of the made efforts and significant resources invested by the players that were directly or indirectly involved in the electoral process. This means that in many regards, a lot of the spent resources had a low output, if not the opposite effect. And this, for its part, could mean that the approach to the electoral competition should be substantially changed, if eventually the consumption of the given resources is not a goal in itself.

It should be noted that we now have three types of results of the elections in Chisinau: 1) the unexpected victory of Andrei Nastase; 2) invalidation of elections by the courts and law and stopping of the electoral process by the Central Election Commission; 3) deterioration of the Moldova – EU relations after the invalidation of elections.

Large financial resources with small effect

In t the elections, the used financial resources didn’t produce the expected result, first of all in the case of those who spent more. One of the two candidates who competed in the runoffs reported official costs of about 1.400 million lei, while the other one of approximately 174,000 lei. The largest part of the money went on advertising, including on TV channels and radio, in the print media, on street or mobile posters, etc. Why did this money work badly for those who invested it? There can be more reasons, but surely the voters’ reticence to all kinds of advertisements, especially those that are exaggerated by volume and price, should be taken into account. The volumes and prices increased considerably, tens of times, especially during the last few years. Many of the voters live in not the best conditions and probably look at this electoral luxury by the principle of Alexandr Pushkin “A Feast in Time of Plague”. The aforementioned figures show only a small part of the official costs and of only two candidates. But the voters know all the official and unofficial costs, as they felt these themselves. So, much money invested in the election campaign wasn’t effective and the sizes should be eventually reviewed down or reoriented to other channels of influence on voters.

Support or anti-support?

The unofficial, often illegal massive support given to some of the candidates by media outlets that officially declared they will not become involved in the election campaign was also ineffective. In fact, a lot of money was officially or unofficially invested in this process too and this didn’t work, worked badly or worked against the pursued goal. The illegal support was repeatedly ascertained by specialized, official and nongovernmental observation missions. The confession made by candidate Silvia Radu perfectly shows the opposite effect: “Any support on the part of... is anti-support,” she stated for ProTV channel after suffering a defeat in the first round of the mayoral elections. Why did it happen so? Possibly because our people already realize the bad intentions of the TV channels and their owners and no longer accept or accept less to be manipulated. Maybe it is time for all the TV channels and media outlets to return to their normal duties, including to inform socially responsibly, if the given TV channels do not pursue the goal of wasting money and human and technical resources with the risk of fully destroying their image?


The support of the paid commentators, who are popularly called “trolls”, was also unproductive. In this case, the word “commentator”  should be taken in inverted commas and “very well, with unofficial money, usually of a doubtful origin” should be added to the word “paid”. The word ‘people’ can be read directly, without inverted comas, because the “activity” of trolls expanded so much that these appear everywhere and everyone can easily identify them, without having special training. Furthermore, a series of fact-checking platforms have been developed as an antidote to help the people better understand what manipulation, propaganda and misinformation are. The paid “trolls” haven’t produced an effect because they work “as in the kolkhoz”, where only the number of worked days counted. On the other hand, there is one more category of very inspired professionals who work on the Internet. These are very fresh and credible in their messages that are unusually formulated on their own initiative.

Accidentally or not, the larger majority of paid “trolls-kolkhoznics”, “blogers” and “analysts” worked on the side of those who didn’t win the elections and not only the political forces that fielded own candidates are meant here. In this regard, the election outcome by the turnout of voters is also the negative result of the activity of the paid army of supporters, alongside some of the TV channels. If this is not a masochist form of deliberate spending of money, the backers and owners of these could inquiry also about the effects.

Violation of moral norms penalized

No significant effect was also produced by the attacks on person, impudent violation of the moral norms, either by official electoral staffs or by “amateurs” equipped, for example, with the personal data of candidates that can be obtained only from state institutions or at least the state institutions didn’t intervene in these cases of flagrant violation of the law. It is not the case to give more concrete examples as we risk identifying ourselves with such “amateurs”. We want to believe that the effect wasn’t produced because society no longer accepts or accepts less the political dirt and penalizes those who are suspected of involvement. But sources of all kinds were spent here too, presumably very expensive, including financial and human, which could have been used for a noble cause or at least for a useful purpose.

Foreign and own “electoral chatters”

The used electoral technologies based on pressing combined with evident insincerity were also useless. The electoral debates held by IPN News Agency on the very first days of the election campaign seem to be a conclusive example in this case. The about ten invited candidates accepted to take part in the debates, except for one candidate, who argued he does not take part in “electoral chatters”. Ironically, namely this candidate built almost his entire campaign for the runoffs by inviting his opponent to electoral debates  with themes and places elected unilaterally, rejecting the right of this to refuse to take part in “electoral chatters”. Presumably, the largest majority of resources of the already reminded kinds and others that will be mentioned below were concentrated on this format of electoral agitation.    

“How do you feel?”

Judging by the results, this time the harsh and hostile messages against the rivals with the aim of unbalancing these mentally and physically also didn’t fully produce the expected result. The goal was partially achieved, but this also had a boomerang effect. It happened because using an almost hysterical message against the opponent, the candidates, who are human beings too, could not bypass this ballast of negative emotions. In this regard, enormous resources of health were also wasted in the last election campaign. At a certain moment, it seemed that an answer wouldn’t have been needed if someone of the journalists had asked the two candidates who competed in the runoffs how they felt. This could have been the most demolishing question for both of the candidates as it was evident that they were maximally extenuated  and this points to the potential of persons who will have to bear serious psychological burdens permanently, in case of victory.

This is what should have been said after the runoffs in Chisinau and not only about the two candidates who remained in the race. The conclusions and recommendations that were necessary then can be reduced to the idea that not all the bridges can and should be burned in extremely important political campaigns. The non-crossable limits in the human relations should not be crossed as room for a positive greeting on the very next day can always be left. And if this call is not sufficiently convincing through the angle of political traditions, practices and interests, through the angle of the capacity to reasonably manage the available resources, it cannot be ignored without the risk of building the image of having inappropriate behavior before society.

Several times more valid call

The given call was made one thousand times more justifiably after the decision to invalidate the elections was adopted given that everything turned out to be useless: the ultra-sophisticated electoral technologies and resources, the callousness and unfair attacks, the unslept nights and wasted health, the moral sins before the competitors, the people and God. Everything turned out to be just a children’s game or a foreign game in which you zealously took part without knowing. An old anecdote of the Soviet period about the ”fervent battles between fascists and partisans” is appropriate here: “The fascists gathered together all the forces and drove the partisans away from the wood. The partisans concentrated and won the wood back. The wood had been lost and conquered back during many years. And the forester than came and dispersed everyone...”

The foresters cannot serve forever

We will yet see who the real “forester” was in the case of the election invalidation and stopping of the electoral process. Now there are several response variants: the judiciary, the Central Election Commission, EU experts, civil society, government, government through the judiciary, the CEC and other instruments, etc. But when this “forester” believed that he scattered everyone and conquered the wood, a larger “forester” appeared – the European Union with considerable financial resources and with harsh resolutions. “Our forester” combined forces and said he is not afraid of resolutions and of money or its absence. We cannot expect the “EU – forester” to concede the wood to Moldova so easily as other “woods” nearby or elsewhere are laughing and “older fascists” can return.

The problem of all the “political foresters” of all times, including of those from Moldova, is that they considers they will serve as “foresters” for life or are “the last foresters” even if history proved every time this is not so and a “sovereign foresters” ultimately comes to disperse everyone, with democratic elections or by other ways defined by the national and international law. Maybe it is not the case to burn the bridges? Maybe there are yet legal solutions to make sure the choice made by the “sovereign forester” is respected? And if this call is not sufficiently convincing through the angle of political traditions, practices and interests, through the angle of the capacity to reasonably manage the resources invested in achieving the political goals, it cannot be ignored without the risk of building the image of having inappropriate behavior before society.

Valeriu Vasilică, IPN

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