on the organization of the debate “Elections 2019: Post-electoral scenarios in view of experts in political sciences, electoral systems and sociology”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 20 February 2019, Debate 108 brought together: Doru Petruți, director of the polling and research company IMAS; Ion Jigău, director of the polling and research company C.B.S.-Research; Anatol Țăranu, political pundit; and Igor Boțan, expert in electoral systems and the Project’s standing expert. This debate focused on post-election scenarios in light of the level of political culture in Moldova. In this sense, it’s important to see not only what configurations for the next government might be on the table, but also to what extent they would be approved by the Moldovan electorate in light of their political culture. So far, three main scenarios have been discussed in public based on the outcome of the February 24 elections: 1. a coalition government, 2. a monochrome/single-party government, and 3. snap elections after the first two will have failed.
Expert in electoral systems Igor Boțan, the project’s standing expert, said the electoral system was modified into a mixed one and this will be applied for the first time in the ninth parliamentary elections of the declaration of independence, being something new for the voters and for the political class. It is well-known what the motivation for the introduction of the new electoral system was – the need for a new political class. “So, we should now expect that after these elections we will have a new political class and we will see to what extent the authors of this electoral system were right when they decided to replace the electoral system. Everyone understands that the mixed electoral system is a compromise between the proportional system and the majority electoral system,” stated Igor Boțan.
According to him, the majority system was naturally introduced in the Anglo-Saxon system, including in the UK, the United States of America, but it is important to understand that the electoral system in these countries prefigured the party system. “There is a relationship between the electoral system and the party system, the two-party system in fact. In these states, there are tens of political parties, but the electoral system did so that two political parties alternated in power. Even if such a transformation was wanted in the Republic of Moldova, it is not known if this is successful. But when the election results are published, it will be clear to what extent the political class was renewed,” stated Igor Boțan.
The expert noted that after the elections, it will be clear to what extent this electoral system influenced the party system and this is very important. “There is one more very important thing, namely that this mixed electoral system tries to shift emphases from the visions on the development of society, which matches more the proportional system where the parties, based on doctrines and ideologies, work out visons for the county and compile party lists. The mixed electoral system and the majority one bring politics to the blade of grass and the visions should move to the second place, as the needs of the people in constituencies come to the first place. But it is not clear if we passed the phase when we should work on visions, even if some say that we can switch over to the solving of problems. In general, it seems there are reasons for accepting changes in the electoral system. On the other hand, we see that the people do not really understand how this system works. If we add the intention to introduce the imperative mandate to this modified system, things in general become very vague,” said Igor Boțan.
Doru Petruți, director general of a sociological research company [imas], said the data of sociological studies can be very well understood if the agenda of politicians and parties is followed, especially in the recent past. “If we turn back time a little, we should remember that 2015 was a year with very powerful crises that practically led to the collapse of all the indicators in sociological measurements so that when his government was invested, in January 2016, we had absolutely worrisome records. Over 90% of the respondents said things went wrong,” stated the director [imas].
As to the evolution of the ruling party, he said this set a number of things and brought new themes. “It seemed rather risky to force a social agenda even in the context of the early local elections in Chisinau. Compared with the developments of the past three years, starting with 2015-2016, when the ratings of this party and its leader were very low, things have changed. The Democrats were practically the only one who tried to deal with the top five problems that the population enumerated, coming up with measures, especially during the last months of 2018”.
According to Doru Petruți, as in the local elections, there is now no geopolitical struggle and the Democrats somehow managed to introduce and promote social themes. The novelty element that is seen in the structure of voters who started to oscillate considerably during the past two-three months refers to the electorate of the left: “There are four parties that struggle for over 2/3 of the voters – the PSRM, the PDM, the Shor Party and the PCRM”. The Shor Party, which witnessed a constant rise in the course of 2018, could enter Parliament as well. Another novelty element is related to a courageous phenomenon when the number of undecided voters increases with the coming of elections. Earlier things stood inversely. “Polls shows a very high percentage, of over 35%, of those who at least declare that they postpone taking a decision until the last week or even the last day. I think the last week can yet bring new percentage.”
As to the agenda of the electoral bloc ACUM, Doru Petruți said particular oscillations, with tops and downs, were seen in this party, depending on how active the bloc was in the public sphere. He noted that the PSRM no longer witnesses a growth as earlier, the trend being taken over by the PDM.
Ion Jigău, director of the sociological research company C.B.S.-RESEARCH, said polis in general reveal the same picture even if there are differences between surveys owing to the different methodology used. Anyway, the order is almost the same in all polls and there is a large number of undecided voters everywhere. There is a phenomenon called “spiral of silence” that is the biggest in the case of the Socialists, and smaller in the case of the PDM and the Shor Party that will probably pass the election threshold of 6%. “That’s why I think the Democrats and the Socialists, and also the Shor Party, could win more than the polls anticipate. It is hard to say as we don’t know for sure what the voter turnout will be given that it is hard to forecast the turnout. It is socially right to take part in the ballot. The people usually say that they will take part in the ballot and will definitely take part, but actually do not always go to vote,” noted Ion Jigău.
According to him, the trends are oscillatory. The Socialists in a way declined a little during the campaign, while the Democratic Party and the bloc ACUM vary, being at almost the same level. “In general, I’m inclined to believe that at least with the domestic voters, the PDM can outstrip ACUM on the national list. It is hard to forecast what will happen in single-member constituencies because a greater effort from sociological viewpoint is needed and it is hard to say what will happen there. However, the Public Opinion Barometer, for example, contained a question about the single-member constituencies and the electorate is inclined to vote first the Socialist candidates, then the independents and then the PDM,” stated the director of C.B.S.-RESEARCH. He noted the early local elections in Chisinau showed the last election campaign week is decisive and the people will most probably mobilize on the last day.
Political analyst Anatol Țăranu said the voters do not think about eventual early elections and how these could be avoided as these are a too difficult problem for the voters. ”The voters meditate about simpler problems, such as who to vote for in the next elections. It is hard to make precise forecasts about the configuration of the future government three days before the elections.” The analyst noted a thing that can be said with certainty and that is confirmed by all polls is that there are three incontestable favorites – the PSRM, the PDM and the bloc ACUM. The question is if they will be joined by the fourth contender in Parliament. This could be the Short Party.
According to him, it seems that the Party of Communists practically does not have chances. “This way, the previous favorites of the Moldovan political arena almost do not have chances of entering Parliament.” As to the favorites in the legislature, the analyst considers the Socialists, who built their electoral message on the geopolitical factor, will be first and it is highly improbable that there will be any surprise in this regard. The PDM was interested in diminishing the geopolitical message as it didn’t found itself in that message. During the past ten years, there were forces in government that very precisely announced a geopolitical orientation, but the successes on this dimension weren’t surprising enough to make the people vote for them.
Anatol Țăranu said the bite related to the lack of importance of the geopolitical component was also “swallowed” by the bloc ACUM and a large part of the electoral losses this will suffer will derive from the fact that it wasn’t able to develop the geopolitical factor. “But when it is said that the Socialists will be more successful on the Moldovan political arena this does not mean that they have the best chances of determining the future political configuration. If the PSRM takes part in a combination of the government, it will play a secondary role even if it will gain a larger number of seats than its partners. This will be most probably done with the PDM”. The analyst is inclined to believe that the Socialists could rule with a part of the bloc ACUM and such a combination is possible for a short period of time, which should be used to fully disarm the Democratic Party and to remove it from the game, especially its leader. But this idea could make some of the representatives of ACUM use a combination that at first sight seems suicidal for them from political viewpoint. The probability of such a combination is not big, but cannot be excluded,” stated Anatol Țăranu.
On February 14, IPN staged a debate with candidates or representatives of candidates running in single-member constituency No. 49. This involved Vladimir Bolea, the representative of Dorin Frăsîneanu, who runs on behalf of the electoral bloc ACUM Platform PAS and DA, independent candidate Dumitru Pogorea, Nicolae Pascaru, who represented the Party of Socialists’ candidate Gheorghii Para, and Valery Klimenko, who runs on behalf of the Shor Party.
The debate held on February 18 featured candidates or representatives of candidates registered in constituency No. 50, namely the PDM’s candidate Olga Coptu, the representative of Maia Sandu who represents the electoral bloc ACUM Natalia Gavrilița, the representative of the National Liberal party’s candidate Gheorghe Furdui, Vitalia Pavlichenko, and independent Oleg Brega.
On February 19, IPN organized a debate with candidates running in single-member constituency No. 51: the U.S. and Canada or their representatives, namely Olga Coptu, who represented the Democratic Party’s candidate Gennady Moroșanu, the Shor Party’s candidate Gaik Vartanean, the representative of Dumitru Alaiba, who runs on behalf of the electoral bloc ACUM Platform DA and PAS, Radu Marian, and Dumitru Jomir, the representative of independent candidate Valeriu Ghiletski. Earlier, IPN Agency held electoral debates with the participation of representatives of election contestants running in the national constituency.
The series of debates ”Elections 2019: Please elect me MP on behalf of the Western diaspora because...”, forms part of the series of public debates held by IPN News Agency as part of the project “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.
The Agency published 5 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 20.02.19, „Elections 2019: Post-electoral scenarios in experts’ view. IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/special/96607; „Pollster says independents unlikely to enter next parliament” - http://ipn.md/en/special/96610; „Pundit discusses likelihood of snap elections” - http://ipn.md/en/special/96609; „Doru Petruți: Campaigning is now more in the field and less on TV” - http://ipn.md/en/special/96608, „Igor Boțan: After elections we will most probably have a center-left coalition” - http://ipn.md/en/special/96614.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN