about the organization of the debate “The Chisinau Municipal Council” Why Doesn't it Work? Political Culture in the Relationship between Local Office Holders ”, the 10th episode in the series “Developing political culture in public debates”. Series of public debates held by Info-Prim Neo news agency in its conference room”, supported by German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
The 10th debate within the project took place on October 16, 2012, and focused on the role of political culture in the political relations between the local officials within the different groups of the Chisinau Municipal Council (CMC) and, respectively, the impact of these relations on the internal political situation in the Council. The participants were the Mayor’s representative Oleg Cernei, Communist councilor Victor Gurau, head of the Liberal group Ion Gabura, head of the Liberal-Democratic group Ghenadie Dumanschi, head of the community party Democracy Home Vasile Costiuc and experts Igor Botan, director of the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT, and Corneliu Ciurea, representatives of NGO IDIS “Viitorul”.
For comparison: It is generally acknowledged that things in the Moldovan Parliament aren’t going too well as the representatives of the largest parliamentary group, that of the Communist Party (PCRM), contest the legality and legitimacy of the Alliance for European Integration (AIE) parties being into power. The PCRM group uses political fight techniques adequate to this position: the long-term boycott of Parliament meetings, permanent and principled refuse to cooperate with the governing parties. In CMC, nobody contests the legality and legitimacy of the situation resulted after the local election, but things still aren’t going too well. One of the conclusions we must draw is that the capital’s deliberative forum lacks the political culture of communication and collaboration between political groups for the sake of the community. This thesis was verified and confirmed during the public debates on October 16. The representatives of AIE groups think that the council’s activity isn’t blocked as it seems and that things are moving, although slow, but are moving. On the other hand, the PCRM opposition’s representative says that the Communists councilors want to cooperate, but not in the Mayor’s cabinet, whom he accused of monopolizing the decision-making process, but in the council and together with all the groups.
Political pundit Corneliu Ciurea observed that the internal politics is intricate: there is a political dimension on which the opposition is in particular focusing and there is an administrative dimension, which is preferred by the Mayor and the Alliance councilors. At the same time, the expert considers that the notion of political culture gets blurred when two sides confront each other, as they have every right to engage in an argument, but it is important that the discussion among the groups is continued. “The perception is that things in the Municipality, too, are not going very smooth and this can be heard in the street. When there is a party which seeks to reveal some illegalities, it must bring evidence and notify the relevant bodies”.
Expert Igor Botan, the director of the Association for Participative Democracy, said the situation in the Council becomes blocked as a reaction: the mayor feels attacked and counterattacks by blocking the Council. The expert also remarked a number of “abnormal things”: the failure to validate three councilor's mandates in more than half a year, the secret meeting of September 13, and the subsequent Mayor's trick pulled on some councilors. “But the Mayor didn't think this could have a boomerang effect against him”.
Concerning the Communists' and Socialists' intention to hold a referendum to dismiss the Mayor, the expert thinks this would be useless, because if the city's residents were really discontented with the level of public services, they would have long ago organized themselves and collected signatures. The expert added that actually all the groups in the Council know what to do, and they just have to act.
Info-Prim Neo agency’s special note: until the last moment, there was the danger of not having the debate in the announced format. According to unofficial information available to the debate moderator, there was an agreement between the majority of the invited guests to not participate in the debate. However, they came, although late, and the debate took place and the participants even opted to stay for the peacemaking coffee break. Anyway, the Agency was ready to organize the debate in a modified format with the participation of only the experts, the representatives of opposition and of a party outside the CMC, although such a debate would have taken place in a restrained and burdensome atmosphere. This format would have proven even more convincingly the lack of political culture in the relations between the CMC groups, but such a format would have not been as useful as the planned format as regards the impact upon the level of political culture in society.
The Agencu published 2 news reports on the debate(see the English version of www.info-prim.md on 16.10.12, „Debates: Is there a stalemate in the Chisinau City Council?” - http://info-prim.md/?a=10&nD=2012/10/16&ay=49846, on 17.10.12 „Deputy mayors and district heads cannot be named because there is no consensus” - http://info-prim.md/?a=10&nD=2012/10/17&ay=49857.
Valeriu Vasilică, director of Info-Prim Neo
October, 18, 2012
Press Release about the organization of the debate “The Chisinau Municipal Council” Why Doesn't it Work? Political Culture in the Relationship between Local Office Holders ”, the 10th episode in the series “Developing political culture in public debates”