Mixed system: Angle or Demon that descended on Moldova? IPN analysis

Many of the things said about the PDM could also be attributed to the claimant to power PSRM, which is as determined in projects and actions, but which plays as riskily, on the verge. How would an eventual PDM-PSRM “Molotov cocktail” influence our life after 2018?

The promoters of the change in the electoral system have won the game overwhelmingly. A chess game in the style of a grant international master, with many moves calculated and combinations planned in advance. A symphony interpreted by all the instruments of an orchestra according to notes, impeccably, often with artists infiltrated into the hall, under the inspired baton of the conductor who is more behind the curtains. It was already stated that a well-planned and outfitted caravan heads for the set goal by itself, amid barks by small and larger dogs.  

Real or imaginary danger?

Where does the impression of alert or even danger come from then?  From the effect that this important electoral reform will have and about which the internal and external opponents warn? Not to such an extent as the effects will become very clear not earlier than the end of next year or even in many years. The sensation comes rather from this almost perfect style of achieving political goals with which we weren’t a used to during the last few years of approximate messages and actions of the political class, of reciprocal harassment of the ruling parties and of the opposition parties. What organized force comes or already came to Moldova and how will it be used and by who and in whose interests? Did an Angel or a Demon descend on us?

The way in which the situation around the electoral system was managed could shed some light on the way in which the Republic of Moldova will be managed during the next few years. The way in which the new electoral system was promoted could become a symbol anticipating the political force/forces that would govern Moldova. That’s why at this stage it could be useful to examine more attentively not what was done, because we cannot yet appreciate very objectively, but rather how this work was done by the promoters, especially the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM).

Unordinary capacities and banned methods

Thus, we should appreciate the organizational capacity of the PDM at the goal planning and achievement stages and at the stage of post-factum promotion of the obtained results. It is an absolute novelty for the Republic of Moldova during the last eight years of government as they act in accordance with plans that are worked out professionally. They say that a big contribution here was made by the already formal leader of the party Vlad Plahotniuc. With all respect for the opponents of the bill to replace the electoral system, but none of them rose to such an organizational level and it is not known if someone is able to rise in similar conditions.

It’s true that the opponents could be right, at least partially, when they say that the PDM used banned methods, resources and finances to achieve its goals and this could be one of the red lines that was crossed or almost crossed by it.

Real and speculated expectations

The PDM knew to identify and use better than anyone the society’s expectations of change, in general, and of the political class in particular, as a condition of the general changes. Who of the members of society would not want changes in the current leaving conditions and conditions in which the state protects their life and interests? Who is not disappointed in the performance of the political class?

On the other hand, the PDM is accused of manipulation and insincerity in the dialogue with society because it radically changed the data of the problem in this dialogue. The large campaign, based on well-planned technologies, to promote the electoral system change centered mainly on the possibility for the people to dismiss the MPs who do not do their job. In the final version of the law, this provision can no longer be found and reference to the big support of society for such radical and controversial changes can no longer be made. The proposal would have had a higher level of sincerity if the new provisions had come into force not before the parliamentary elections of 2018, but before the subsequent elections. A result based on manipulation and insincerity, at least partially, cannot be beneficial to everyone and cannot protect the red lines between the strict political interests and the interests of society.

Political virtuosity and risk of bloodshed

The PDM managed to secure a very broad support in Moldova’s Parliament for adopting the given law. Such consensuses were rarely witnessed in the history of the national legislature. It knew to transform the opponents into allies, to marginalize the allies who didn’t accept the proposal and to secure the support of the main opposition force, the Party of Socialists (PSRM), even if it had enough votes in the parliamentary alliance to adopt this bill. The case of the adoption, promulgation and publication of the bull in the Official Gazette and its coming into force in a record period of time can be considered an act of political virtuosity if there hadn’t been other facets of the situation.

It seems that for the first time in the country’s history, the government has protected itself from the masses that protested against the adoption of the proposal by other masses that were placed right before the door of the Parliament Building. Even if we believe the PDM when it says that it had nothing to do with the pro-adoption demonstration, a ruling patty of good faith was obliged to avoid bloodshed in a clash between the two groups of protesters that was possible at least theoretically. Was the red line crossed in this case or not? Did they go on the verge here too? The opponents also speak about less orthodox methods of obtaining “broad parliamentary consensus”, including corruption, blackmail, pressure and arrests. Even if nothing of this is true, it is the broad perception of society that it is so that counts and this means that the red lines in other areas could have been crossed.

Many steps without one step

The PDM made a lot of effort to follow the recommendations of the Venice Commission. No one did more in similar situations and it is not known if someone else is able to do more. It showed it realized the fact that the relations with practically all the development partners and, respectively, the fate of the country’s European course that this party promotes depended on this. The very solid delegations in Venice and Brussels, unprecedentedly broad debates under the aegis of Parliament and NGOs are only some of the relevant examples.

But the PDM didn’t take the main step to be in concordance with the same expectations of all the development partners – it didn’t give up or at least didn’t put off the adoption of the law and this evidently means approaching of another red line. The consensus reached in Parliament was a technical one, of political conjuncture, but this generated even more division in the already divided society. It is the blame of the political opponents who didn’t accept the invitation to debates, but this also shows the unwillingness or inability of the ruling party, of which more is required than of the opposition, to ensure an essence, not only technical consensus. Probably the fact that the government wasn’t able to ensure a consensual dialogue with many of the NGOs with big expertise capacities, which opposed the replacement of the electoral system or at least in the form proposed by the ruling party, and which are trusted by the same development partners, was the most worrisome thing for the latter. Indirectly, the intention to reduce the NGOs’ access to external financing, by models that are not welcomed by advanced democracies, also proves this. Does another line appear on the horizon?

Geopolitical acting and risks

For the first time in the country’s history, the PDM transformed the Republic of Moldova from an object of international relations into a subject, from a spectator into an actor, including in the geopolitical games between the East and the West. For example, for the first time Moldova assumed an active, determined role in relation to the Russian Federation compared with its lack of reaction to often unfriendly acts by this earlier. The expulsion of diplomats, band on Russian Deputy Prime Minister Rogozin from coming to Moldova by military plane and on Russian MPs and artists from travelling to the Transnistrian region to take part in the events staged there unilaterally by the separatist regime are only some of the latest examples. But the statement adopted recently by Parliament, whereby the Russian Federation is officially requested to pull out its military forces that stay illegally on Moldova’s territory and act like a pole for the separatist regime is the most relevant example. Such a document hasn’t existed until now and this means that only now did the interested international community obtain an official reason to support the Republic of Moldova in this crucial issue.

But there are many signs that this attitude by the Moldovan government was adopted in the context of the interest in changing the electoral system. At least both of the themes were promoted by representatives of Chisinau together and practically simultaneously in Brussels and in Washington. Therefore, we can suspect the government of intending to profit from the West’s interest in relation to Russia to obtain support for its political project concerning the electoral system, but the speculative character in geopolitical problems can entail different risks, including of a military character, that Chisinau would be unable to handle.

Cocktail Molotov

The determined, politically professional, but often risky approach adopted by the PDM inside and outside to manage the situation concerning the electoral system can suggest particular answers about the perspectives of the Moldovan citizens, society and state if the PDM achieves one of the unannounced goals of the electoral reform: to keep power and, eventually, to extend its political influence in the country.

Many of the things said about the PDM could also be attributed to the claimant to power PSRM, which is as determined in projects and actions, but which plays as riskily, on the verge. How would an eventual PDM-PSRM “Molotov cocktail” influence our life after 2018?

Was the representative of one of the development partners, the U.S. Embassy, right when it said that the adoption of the revised Election Code calls into question the government’s stated goal of a democratic and European future for the people of Moldova?

Valeriu Vasilică, IPN

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