on the organization of the debate “Society’s levers of control on the government before, during and after elections: traditions, local practices and European standards”, the 35th 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”
Although apparently the topic of the 35th debate was a bit off the central theme of this period – that of the campaign preceding the November 30 election - in reality it was very close to it, even essential, albeit little covered by the media. Hence the need to fill this gap.
And this is why we think so: It's clear what the aim of the political class is: to obtain or retain power. It's a natural thing to aim for, which is in the spirit of the democratic values. The current campaign is no exception in this respect. But one cannot formulate with the same degree of clarity and conciseness what aims the voters have. One assumption, for example, is that the voters seek to elect into government someone who represents their interests better. Or, the voters may hope for bigger wages and pensions, a job, better health care or education etc. Maybe the voters want a party that they believe will lead the country to the right direction which includes, among other, a correct foreign policy. There may be a multitude of other aims.
What does explain then the impression we often have at the completion of every electoral cycle that many people are dissatisfied and disenchanted with those who they themselves elected? One of the key answers may be that, after the elections, the voters are not aware of, or do not know how to use levers of control over the government that would allow them to correct the behavior of those elected throughout their tenure and not just once in four years. The debate discussed such mechanisms of societal control and government accountability, and the degree to which our society is ready to exert such control during and after elections.
One conclusion at which the debate's speakers arrived is that Moldova needs another kind of civil society, which would involve more people in specialized professional organizations and would function as an instrument of control over governance or would even take over a part of the duties of the government. The independent institutions managed by the government must learn to make the best use of the mechanisms they possess. Regretfully, neither the independent institutions of the state nor civil society profit from the modern and favorable legal framework existing in the country.
“Unfortunately, our society still believes that the government is responsible for everything and this is not good because we want to built a state where the powers are separated,” said Iurie Leanca. He noted that in an advanced society, the role of the government is reduced and its main concern is to create favorable conditions for the work of the specialized institutions and civil society.
“The legal framework is very and very good because it was worked out with the support of European experts. We are now at the phase when we must implement it and problems appear here because these institutions are not ready to implement the mechanisms they possess and meet with resistance on the part of our judiciary, which, in several cases, already rejected the decisions of the Competition Council and this has a non-beneficial effect.”
“The government must be like an interface with active ports to which civil society, the interested elements, can connect themselves and can send signals that what the authorities do is good or bad. Control will then exist. If this does not exist, we will always complain and will blame the government,” said Igor Botan.
“From legislative viewpoint and given the context existing now in Moldova, there are a lot of things or a majority of important things that offer control leverage over the power. Society and its active elements, the elements of civil society, are a problem as they didn’t learn to use these instruments.”
According to Igor Botan, the lack of specialized NGOs that would consist of competent people from a certain area and would monitor the activity of the government in this area, is another problem. “We have a series of NGOs that consider they are expert in all the issues and they address them. They consider they are civil society. This is absurd. Civic society does not have conscience. It is a mosaic. The expectations were always for the people who can to organize themselves into groups to defend their interests, such as the teachers, farmers, exporters, fuel consumers and so on. They are competent in an area and can be partners of the regulatory institutions, the government and of the control bodies of Parliament,” he stated.
The Agency published 4 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 19.11.14, “Civic society and state institutions are late in developing legal framework, IPN debate” - http://www.ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/65902; on 20.11.14, “Modernization means fight against archaic ways of thinking, Iurie Leanca” - http://www.ipn.md/en/politica/65905; “European integration is a leverage of control over quality of governance, IPN debate” - http://www.ipn.md/en/politica/65906; “Elections in Moldova are freer, but less fair, Igor Botan” - http://www.ipn.md/en/special/65911.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN