People’s Assembly of Gagauzia: prefiguration of new composition and perspective of relations with central power. Op-Ed by Veaceslav Craciun



The campaign prior to the elections to the People’s Assembly of Gagauz-Yeri (PAG-Y), set for May 16, was kicked off last week. The results of the competition will reflect both the regional political life, showing the alignment of forces, and the perspective of the future relations between the bodies of Gagauzia and within the national policy, revealing the current potential of some of the parties and central authorities’ approaches in the architectonics of the politics with regard to the region...


Veaceslav Craciun

Results of activity

Officially, the campaign prior to the elections to choose the legislative body started on March 17 and from the very first days more than 100 inhabitants besieged the local Central Election Commission (CEC) in the wish to become deputies. Besides those who intend to run independently, there are representatives of political parties, especially of the Party of Socialists, the PAS and the “Civic Congress”. The elections to the PAG-Y are held based on the majority system – by a deputy will be elected in each of the 35 constituencies.

The PAG-Y that ended its mandate managed to adopt a series of legislative proposals that make the region different from the rest of the country’s districts. This way, there were adopted laws that exempted the parents from paying for the alimentation of children at schools and kindergartens and increased the local childbirth allowances that are paid in addition to the state ones, while the local bodies that obtain extra-budgetary financing for different projects are fully refunded their contributions from the regional budget. Some of these laws were adopted on the initiative of the Executive Committee, while others were drafted by the deputies.

The results of the work done by representatives of the PAG -Y on the joint working group – inter-parliamentary platform that involves members of Moldova’s Parliament that since 2016 has dealt with the ensuring of legal conditions for the functioning of Gagauz-Yeri - are more modest.  Under the former composition of the PAG -Y, the working group didn’t propose visible legislative initiatives, while the famous “Gagauz initiatives” (more exactly two of three initiatives), which were designed on this platform during the previous PAG-Y, were presented in the Moldovan Parliament’s session of the autumn of 2020 as an initiative of the PSRM, not of the People’s Assembly.

The image of the previous composition of the PAG-Y can also be spoiled by the non-adoption of the budget of Gagauzia for 2021, which should have been carried by the deputies three months ago. Some of them said the adoption of the budget was hampered by Bashkan Irina Vlah, who rejected the amendments proposed by the deputies and blocked the organization of sessions. Nevertheless, according to the formal procedures, the ball is in the deputies’ court and namely the deputies agree the main financial document of the year.

Electoral Code does not stipulate existence of CEC of Gagauzia

It should be noted that the CEC of Gagauzia, which is responsible for organizing and conducting the elections to the PAG-Y, was discussed in last week’s sitting of Parliament. The representatives of the PSRM proposed supplementing the Election Code with a chapter centering on the Central Election Commission of Gagauzia so as to specify its powers in the elections for the Bashkan and to the PAG-Y and to also stipulate the principles of interaction with the CEC of the Republic of Moldova.

According to MP Fiodor Gagauz, who presented the bill, the changes are aimed at ensuring first of all the use in elections in Gagauz-Yeri of the register of voters as this will solve the problem of authenticity of the turnout data and will validate the status of state functionary for the commission members – president, vice president and secretary – guaranteeing their social rights.

The bill generated questions among representatives of the Party of Action and Solidary and the Party “Dignity and Truth Platform”, who expressed their concerns that the naturalization of the CEC of Gagauz-Yeri will contribute to building “a state in the state” and that such amendments run counter to the Constitution. Their mates, the Gagauz deputies, for their part noted that the bill does not cross the current limits of the legal powers of Gagauzia and these will enrich the Electoral Code conceptually. Ultimately, the MPs of the groups of the right left the assembly hall during the presentation of the bill and Speaker Zinaida Grechanyi accepted the proposal to send the document to the joint working group of the Parliament and the PAG -Y for examination.

Without majority

As to the eventual election outcome and the future political arrangements, it is anticipated that Socialists’ candidates and the representatives of the team of the incumbent Bashkan have big chances. Victor Petrov from Comrat, who is the director of the office in Moldova of the international tour operator Tez-tur, has resources and thus has chances of winning. He is not associated with political forces, but judging by his statements, he is ideologically close to the Socialists. Last year, he practiced humanitarian activities in the region, with many intuiting his future political goals.

The former leader of the Gagauz Democrats Nicolae Dudoglo and ex-Speaker of the PAG-Y Dmitrii Constantinov, who submitted applications to take part in the election campaign, could return to active politics. Separate groups of deputies could form around the two as they will concomitantly back candidates from among their supporters in particular constituencies.

The diversity of candidates from the viewpoint of political forces and interest groups shows the future composition of the PAG-Y will most probably not be dominated by a particular force. Consequently, a long-lasting political balance cannot be expected within the assembly and in the relations of the legislative power with the Bashkan. In fact, the Bashkan has strategies for both of the cases in hand – cooperation with the loyal majority and interaction with the opposing and conflicting deputies. In the second case, the formula of interaction will be based on individual negotiations with those elected or with legislative groups.

The result of this interaction could be determined partially by the new government of Moldova. If a Cabinet loyal to Maia Sandu is formed, either snap parliamentary elections are held or not, the President will have real instruments for influencing the work of the PAG-Y. It is not yet clear how she could use them – to undermine the influence of the Party of Socialists in the region or for more visionary goals.

Veaceslav Craciun
Publicist Veaceslav Craciun completed master’s degree courses at the University of European Studies of Moldova, specializing in international law. Professional interests: regionalism, political processes in ATU Gagauzia, the region’s relations with the central authorities of the Republic of Moldova.

IPN publishes in the Op-Ed rubric opinion pieces submitted by authors not affiliated with our editorial board. The opinions expressed in these articles do not necessarily coincide with the opinions of our editorial board.

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