Replacement of Government: reasons and expectations. IPN debate

At the end of last week, the Gavrilița Government resigned and is to be replaced with the Recean Government. Meanwhile, society tries to understand what happened, why and what will follow next. The political, social, sociological and economic consequences of the created situation were discussed by experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Replacement of the Government: reasons and expectations”.

Igor Boțan, the permanent expert of IPN’s project, said that the explanatory dictionary defines the Government as the central body of the state that controls the executive power. The Constitution says the Government ensures the implementation of the internal and external policies of the state and exercises the general management of public administration. The Government works based on a program that is approved by the Parliament.

The expert noted the Government, if a vote of no-confidence is given to it by the Parliament or if the Prime Minister resigns, only manages the public affairs until a new Cabinet is voted in. After the parliamentary groups are consulted, the President designates a candidate for premiership. Afterward, the candidate within 15 days of the designation, works out the program and presents it to the Parliament for approval. The government program and the list of Cabinet members are debated in a Parliament sitting. The Cabinet is accepted by a majority of votes of MP. Based on the vote of confidence given by Parliament, the President of the Republic of Moldova swears in the new Cabinet and this takes up its duties the same day.

According to Igor Boțan, if the Premier resigns, the Government is called outgoing. The Constitutional Court adopted a number of decisions when government crisis were experienced. One of them is that of May 2013. This provides that an outgoing Government manages only three categories of public affairs. It goes to banal, usual affairs that enable the state to work, current issues started when the executive was voted in and need to be completed and emergencies that need to be dealt with immediately so as to avoid very serious dangers to the state and the citizens, to the economic and social life.

Political commentator Nicolae Negru said the resignation of a Cabinet is always related to accomplishments or failures. It can happen that particular political reasons lead to the replacement of the Cabinet. “Personally, I think this was the case. They had spoken about the Government’s resignation for a long period of time. It was even rumored who will be the next Prime Minister. As it happens often, the rumors come true rather than particular information, we, the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, receive from state institutions,” said the commentator.

According to him, the former Government has both accomplishments and failures and the political opponents also spoke about these and some of these demanded that snap parliamentary elections should be held. The executive is mostly blamed for the high inflation, high prices of energy resources and the inability to negotiate lower prices for these resources. “If we look at things formally, we see that we indeed have a record inflation in our region. Only Turkey can beat us in this regard. Exorbitant prices. But they neglect the fact that the Government has helped the citizens and not only the vulnerable categories,” said Nicolae Negru, noting that particular results of the Government can be called historic, including the obtaining of the EU candidate status.

According to him, the decision to replace the Cabinet was taken not because the opposition was dissatisfied or demanded this. It should not be yet forgotten that the Government managed to keep the Republic of Moldova afloat, despite very difficult conditions. None of the governments, even that of 1992, had to deal with such challenges as those experienced by the Gavrilița Government. “The Gavrilița Government was the first that diversified the natural gas supply sources. None of the governments did something like this and some of them can be even suspected of sabotaging the construction of the gas pipeline. Also, progress is made in energy interconnection. Namely those who now reproach this Government should assume a great part of the blame. They are also to blame for the fact that the Republic of Moldova found itself in such a situation, in such serious conditions,” stated the political commentator.

He believes that this resignation wouldn’t have taken place, if polls hadn’t shown such a low popular approval rating for this Government. “It seldom happened that the Prime Minister was not among the personalities that were most trusted by the citizens. I think this huge loss of trust and the future local, presidential and parliamentary elections made the leaders of the Party of Action and Solidarity make such a strategic move. These are political calculations that are normal in liberal, competition-based democracy – the team is replaced at a particular moment so as to succeed in the future,” noted Nicolae Negru.

Vasile Cantarji, project manager of the sociological company СBS Research, said the replacement of a Government is decided not by polls, but by the bodies of a party, the President of the country, etc. “I once said the previous government was unlucky to govern during the COVID-19 pandemic. I didn’t know what will happen later. It is therefore very hard to compare a Government with another as you cannot annihilate the impact of the period. It’s definite that the current Government and the already former Government managed the country in condition of an ideal storm. Against the post-COVID inflationary pressure, when particular phenomena associated with the return of the pandemic started to appear, a gas crisis emerged. The unprecedented inflationary pressure followed. Another major crisis, of the refugees, and, in general, the security crisis, developed then. The fact that it resisted is already an accomplishment,” stated Vasile Cantarji.

According to him, in a crisis situation one cannot gain. The smaller the losses are, the better the situation was managed. “There is always a measurable reality and there is also an imaginary reality, as we imagine it. In our assessments, we ourselves need to avoid particular clichés,” noted Vasile Cantarji. He added that the pupation of the Republic of Moldova is rather vulnerable and public opinion about the level of satisfaction is powerfully influenced by such indicators as the evolution of prices and, if the prices rise, this will undoubtedly affect the image of the government. 

The expert presented poll data concerning trust in former Premiers and these show that there were both popular and less popular governments. “You can see: 52% in 2002 for Vasile Tarlev, 43% for Grechanyi, 43% for Filat, 49% for Iurie Leancă in 2014. Against these figures, Natalia Gavrilița’s result seems very modest – 25%. After Leancă, we haven’t had very popular governments. Maia Sandu had a rating of 30% when she was dismissed. Also, we had less popular Prime Minsters than Natalia Gavrilița, with 25%. Ion Chicu headed the Government for a year and had 21%, Pavel Filip – 23% etc. So, we should not fall prey to such expressions as “the worst Government”, “the most non-popular Government”. What is definite is that this Government worked in the most unfavorable conditions. Therefore, the fact that it kept the boat afloat and maintained the course are accomplishments in the conditions of an ideal storm and this Government cannot be described as lamentable at least,” stated the sociologist.

The public debate entitled “Replacement of the Government: reasons and expectations?” was the 273rd installment of IPN’s project “Developing Political Culture through Public Debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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