At local elections, people choose from the options they have, but they usually vote for those with whom they have contacted most. They vote for those who have succeeded in convincing them that they will be able to deal with the position they run for. However, the choices made available to voters are not so many, unfortunately, and people will have to choose from the existing options. This is the opinion of Mihail Sirkeli, executive director of Piligrim-Demo Association, Comrat, participating in the public debates on the subject: "The characteristic features of the elections of October 20, 2019", organized by IPN Press Agency and Radio Moldova.
The expert believes that in the elections of October 20, the legacy left by the Democratic Party will be felt. He claims that the PDM, from the position of ruling party, has taken actions to destroy political pluralism, which have left their mark on the current situation. According to him, the first signal was the elections of the Bashkan of Gagauzia, which were held, practically without an alternative. Mihail Sirkeli asserts that the most prepared for the local elections is the Socialist Party and in Gagauzia this is visible, since, practically, each settlement has candidates for the mayor position, as well as for the councillor positions.
"If previously a certain national party was balanced by some local or regional power, then at present, there are no such forces in Gagauzia. There is no one to ensure the balance. Other coalition partners, who govern the country with the PSRM, for some reasons, were unable to coagulate these forces. There are no territorial nuclei. The old parties have practically disappeared from the political landscape. And this fact, in my opinion, will greatly influence the composition of the future local councils and of the mayors that will be elected following the October 20 elections”, Mihail Sirkeli.
In his opinion, the quality also depends on the possibilities of the candidates. "The parties participate in the elections, but there is no politics without money and from this point of view, at least in the Gagauzia ATU, the best in this regard, is the PSRM." According to him, for example, in Comrat, for the time being there is only one candidate - from the PSRM. In Ceadâr-Lunga, there is just one candidate so far, and also of the Socialist Party." Practically everywhere, the Socialist Party dominates, there are practically no local political forces, and national political forces are missing. I think it is nothing more than the result of the previous four years: the destruction of local political leaders and the destruction of political pluralism,” said the director of Piligrim-Demo.
Mihail Sirkeli mentioned that lately, the parties had no funding opportunities, or they were limited. Moreover, criminal cases were filed against mayors or persons who supported alternative political views. And this fact has destroyed people's desire to get involved in politics in general. "Except for those who had a friendly attitude towards the Democratic Party or were members of this party." The expert argues that in Gagauzia ATU, with the departure of the PDM from the political arena, that regional core that supported the democrats also left. "Although, lately, it did not manifest itself".
"Of course, there are other reasons, but for now, at this stage I see the reasons of this policy, which has been promoted in the last four years. Probably some lacked the courage to oppose, but there were examples of mayors, such as the mayor of Taraclia, Sergei Filipov, who was suspended from office and went through court proceedings for a long time. Another egregious example is the mayor of the capital, Dorin Chirtoaca, etc. And these are not the only examples. These were very clear signals that if you want to get involved in politics, you can do it only in this way, without any alternative”, noted Mihail Sirkeli.
The director of Piligrim-Demo also referred to the starting positions of the parties in the local elections, which in his opinion are different. And this because the previous Democrats' policy was to disband the right-wing segment - unionists, the ACUM bloc, etc." At the same time, the socialists were less affected and their territorial cores remained untouched, and as a result the PSRM was able to strengthen and consolidate them."
According to him, there are differences between the political parties in terms of approaches to administration and this fact can be noticed in Gagauzia, and in general in the country. "The ACUM bloc believes that this is how politics is done - solving state problems, making visits abroad, etc. However, PSRM people, having the Communist Party background from ten years ago, have a clear understanding that in politics one becomes strong by making contact with people. For Igor Dodon and his partners from Gagauzia, including the Bashkan, this contact with the population is very important.” Mihail Sirkeli believes that daily contact plays an important role and this understanding comes with time. "As for the ACUM Bloc, it has no experience in this regard."
In his opinion, the geopolitical factor has no significance in the local elections and this was seen in this year's Bashkan elections, because people need roads, water, sewerage, etc. The expert contends that current mayors have an advantage compared to their political opponents, because in these four years that have passed, they have had more money - from the Road Fund, from projects, and so on. Thus, they were able to do something at local level and this will play a positive role.
Under these conditions, there is a tendency among some parties, not to submit their own candidates to the local elections, but to convince those who have been active in recent years to pass on their side.
"The characteristic features of the elections of October 20, 2019" public debates, constitute the 117th edition of "Development of political culture in public debates" cycle, held with the support of Hanns Seid German Foundation.
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Characteristic features of the elections of October 20, 2019. IPN debates