Public Debate: Political Image as an Indicator


Press Release
on the organization of the debate “If parliamentary elections were to be hold tomorrow … Image of the government and power perceived by Moldovan society as an indicator for the country’s political prospects”, the 23rd installment of the “Developing Political Culture in 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”

In the context of political culture, the subject discussed at the 23rd debate was among the most important and comprehensive. This is in spite (or perhaps due to) the fact that one of the speakers described the subject as useless and invited others to discuss topics “of more importance to Moldovan society”. The proposed subject is based on the understanding that the present and political prospects of the country, as well as the living standards of the population, depend to a great extent on the political options that the voters express in elections. Such options are being shaped according to the perceived image of politicians. Thus, societal perception becomes a key element of political culture and and an essential criterion used in making political/electoral decisions. In particular, it is important to understand and shape the political prospects of the country in the context of the Vilnius Summit and of the EU-Eurasian Union dilemma existing in Moldovan society. It this context, the purpose of the debate was to familiarize the public with the mechanisms and techniques of creating political image used by politicians in both government and opposition, as well as with the criteria that can guide the society in better understanding this image. As one expert attending the debate said, “I feel I am in a workshop where we learn how politicians are making their image and how we should appraise this image”. We can thus presume that the speaker who was against debating the subject merely didn't want to reveal all the tricks of political image-making in this “workshop”.

Most speakers agreed that the image of the government and the opposition is both good and bad. In the period left until ordinary parliamentary elections, the parties will try to show that they are competitive and promote a right cause, while the opponents are weak and promote corporate or narrow personal interests.

The chairman of the Association of Sociologists and Demographers Victor Mocanu said that confidence in the political parties is now at the lowest level. The population is not satisfied with the way the country develops and considers the implemented reforms tough. The surveys show that the people want reforms that would bring about real changes that would be oriented to the people and world not serve group of personal interests. This attitude reflects to a great extent the current image of politicians.

Deputy Speaker Liliana Palihovici, of the Liberal Democratic Party, said the government wants to have the image of a promoter of democratization and modernization of the country and does a lot in this respect. It implements the necessary reforms, even if the people do not always like them. “The respondents of the polls say they want real reforms and changes that would affect them directly. The Government launched a series of very necessary projects and now should make effort to disseminate the information about the results of its activities,” she stated, adding that the opposition should not misinform as the people want to know not the names of those who do reform, but how quickly and efficiently they are done. Liliana Palihovici also said that the opposition should be constructive, not destructive. “The politicians and elected officials should have a high level of culture. I would like the opposition to contribute to the democratization of society, not to causing chaos.

Communist MP Grigore Petrenco said the political image is built by the politicians by their deeds and policy. He said the debate’s theme is useless and avoided talking about the image of the parliamentary opposition as perceived by society. He referred to the government’s image, saying the current power is regarded as destructive and living with other realities than the existing ones. According to him, the rulers have a bad image and are considered thieves who steal the EU funds.

Coordinating co-president of the People’s Party Alexandru Oleinic said society should assess the political class by its deeds. “The government has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantages are the access to administrative and financial resources, the mass media while the disadvantages refer to responsibility. The parliamentary opposition adopted a good tacit as it contributes to worsening the government’s image,” he stated. According to Alexandru Oleinic, the Communist Party, which represents the opposition, can build a good image as it has access to the mass media and can state its opinions and promote its ideas and stances. When the Communists were in power, the opposition was unable to do this.

Director of the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT Igor Botan said the parties’ image counts now as the preparations for elections will start soon and in elections this image is important. According to the expert, the people usually support the powerful and competitive ones who fight for a right cause. In the period before the elections, the ruling parties and the opposition will make effort to show that they are powerful, while their opponents are weak and promote corporate and personal interests.

The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 11.11.13, “During a year, parties will try to show that they are competitive, debates” -; on 12.11.13, “Government should better explain results of its activity, Liliana Palihovici” -, “People perceive current government as another world, Grigore Petrenco” -,  “Current opposition lives like in heaven, Alexandru Oleinic” -; on 13.11.13 “Parties that did good things, but made mistakes must be punished, Igor Botan” -,  “People’s attitude to reforms influences attitude to parties, Victor Mocanu” -, “Some of extraparliamentary parties have clear views on problems” -

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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