Public Debate: Coalition formation negotiations should be transparent

Press Release
on the organization of the debate “
Society and the political class show a poor understanding of the public nature of negotiations on coalition formation: reasons, threats, solutions”, the 36th installment of the “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” Series; Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”


The debate's topic reflects the concerns raised by civil society representatives in connection with the progress of the negotiations on the formation of the prospective pro-European coalition over the past three weeks, and in particular the lack of transparency showed. By organizing this debate, IPN intended to bring together in one place, and maybe also in one voice, all the civil society platforms that have voiced their concerns, so that they could be better heard and understood by the political class and society.

Also, IPN aimed to identify, together with the debate's participants, some answers to questions such as why the coalition formation talks are taking so long, why they have been kept in private, why this can be dangerous, and what can be done to overcome this situation.

Until then, considering the specific nature of a debate on political culture, we had to clarify things at the level of notions: what are good negotiation practices and what are bad negotiation practices in coalition formation? How much information must the negotiators offer to the public, how should this be done, is there such an obligation at all? ...

The speakers in the debate concluded that the politicians who negotiate the formation of the pro-European parliamentary majority show a lack of respect towards voters by keeping the talks secret for over 2 weeks already.

Igor Botan, director of ADEPT and IPN's permanent guest of the project, said that in the absence of any information about the coalition talks, the people can only mock the politicians. “Everybody knows that we, the people, have been disappointed by the government, and those who have been in power now have their mandates back. There is an obvious lack of motivation and we must be concerned about it because those with bad habits can't get rid of them. They can talk until December 30, when they have to meet in the Parliament. I expect we'll be ignored until then and we can only give free rein to our imagination. Irony is our salvation and we mustn't save it against them because they don't deserve anything but mockery”, said the analyst.

Arcadie Barbarosie, member of the Initiative For a Responsible Government, explained that when civil society asked for more transparency it wanted the politicians to show respect towards the people and tell them about their negotiations and priorities. “Maybe they don't know what to, maybe they can't write a program, maybe they don't have candidates for ministries, and we can help them, that's the meaning of our call. We don't want any deals behind our backs. I get the feeling that after the electoral campaign is over, our elected officials don't find it necessary to consult the people anymore. For 5 years, they've shown us that their interest diverge and that's why we offered to help them make these interests converge. It seems to me that these negotiations started on the wrong foot”, said Barbarosie.

Lilia Snegureac, secretary of the Civil Society Platform “Pro-Europa”, thinks the whole negotiations affair borders on the comic and the tragic. “I didn't expect them to come out with announcements about the talks. I expected someone to guarantee that the results of negotiations would be public. We know the results of the previous secrecy: frustration, blackmail and manipulation that led to the fall of a Cabinet. We aren't here to attack them, but to help them, because it's in our interest as well to avoid early elections. We are offering a helping hand. During the electoral campaign, they grabbed this hand and now they ignore it. This is detrimental to everyone”, said the civic activist.

Vladislav Gribincea, representative of 27 NGOs in the field of justice and human rights, admitted that the law doesn't regulate the way negotiations should be carried out, but thinks it's common sense that the negotiating parties should appease their voters. “The people voted for the future of this country, not for politicians. They always owe us transparency and there is no space for answers of the “let us negotiate in peace” kind because we have already seen how they negotiate. Of the 3 or 4 parties currently negotiating on the coalition formation, 3 have already been in a coalition together and failed to accomplish their plan. They don't have any sound basis on which to negotiate. The question is: what have been talking about over the last 17 days? Perhaps about offices? I think they ought to tell the people what's happening”, stated Vladislav Gribincea.

Vitalie Mester, director of the Center of Legal Assistance for Disabled People and representative of the National Council of NGOs, is displeased with the duration of negotiations. “I think there must be a dialogue, not negotiations and sharing of offices. The governing parties have received a vote of confidence for the next four years, possibly the last time, but this confidence will start to erode during the local elections if things don't change in a significant way before then. We lack political culture, we lack a report on what has been done during these years by the governing parties. Things haven't changed, only slogans. The government coalition lacks any kind of collective responsibility. Many politicians seem unaware that their wages are paid from from the public budget, that their well-being is built on our contributions. But we, civil society, still don't have the courage to call them to account”, said Mester.

Ecaterina Mardarovici, chairwoman of the National Council of NGOs, remarked that politicians show a lack of respect for society. “The politicians don't understand that they owe us information, that they are negotiating public affairs and owe us transparency. At least, they should put together their promises and see where we'll end up with NATO or without it, forward or backwards, and so on. They must tell us and we can't accept excuses like “leave us alone to negotiate”. Unfortunately, it's hard for the Moldovan political class to get rid of certain habits. The negotiators think more about how to trick their coalition partners. It will be sad if it happens again and their secrecy makes us think it will. I believe we must act more decidedly and take to the street or even visit them where they gather for talks and demand some explanations”, stressed Ecaterina Mardarovici.

The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 17.12.14, “Talks in private show politicians' lack of respect, civil society members” -; “Botan: If parties don't offer details, we suppose they're negotiating schemes” -; “Snegureac: Parties must discuss government priorities instead of sharing offices” -; “Arcadie Barbarosie suggests Maia Sandu should lead more institutions” -; on 18.12.14, “Vitalie Mester: Politicians must consider Romania's European integration experience” -; “Ecaterina Mardarovici: Politicians should stop 'coloring' ministries” -; “Gribincea: Foreign experts are needed if local politicians lack will to fight corruption” -

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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