“If, for being able to exemplarily fulfill the duties of President, he needs the Constitution to be amended, he should better not run as he anyway will not succeed. It’s highly improbable that we will be lucky to see Mister Dodon rather as an MP, as the head of the Socialist parliamentary group, but chances anyway exist”
Constitutional powers and elected Presidents’ dissatisfaction
Under the constitutional provisions, the President of the Republic of Moldova is the head of state, meaning that he is at the top of the hierarchy of political institutions. In a parliamentary republic like Moldova, the President’s powers are rather formal. Both in the area of foreign policy and in the security sector, the President actually validates the decisions adopted by the Government or Parliament. The other President’s duties stipulated in the supreme law are rather technical and honorific in character. Why do we then have so much fuss around the presidential elections? Because the President’s powers are now seen temporary and are to be amended.
In fact, in a parliamentary republic, a skillful President is first of all a moral authority that mediates between the state institutions and has all the rostrums within reach to address directly the people, to tell them about the state of the nation. Evidently, if he has views and ideas that he can share with the sovereign people, he gets arguments to press the political class to govern in the public interest. When we think about the President of a parliamentary republic who would serve as an example, we remember Vaclav Havel. In the Republic of Moldova, there are enough personalities who would do us an honor if they win the supreme post, but they are dedicated to their creation and work fields.
During almost 30 years of state independence, the Moldovan citizens elected directly three Presidents – Mircea Snegur, Petru Lucinschi and Igor Dodon. They all complained that they lack the necessary powers to do good to the country and the people, pleading enthusiastically for the adoption or amendment of the Constitution for transforming Moldova into a presidential republic. For example, pursuing noble goals, President Dodon aimed to do what the President of a parliamentary republic should not do. He ostentatiously refused to assume the role of a mediator between the presidential institution and political forces, preferring to promote the interests of one party – the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), which he headed earlier. In this regard, the Constitutional Court (CC) had to intervene, ruling that the President of the Republic should prove his impartiality and political neutrality, his equidistance towards all the parliamentary groups... (he) cannot be the member of a political party and cannot promote the interests of a political party in any form. It is sad to ascertain, but this didn’t help and the President ignored the CC judgment nonchalantly, declaring himself the informal leader of the PSRM. Before the campaign prior to the presidential elections of November 1, 2020, the current President insisted on the necessity of having additional powers, announcing the constitution of a constitutional reform commission.
What we expected and what President Dodon reported to us?
Before the campaign prior to the presidential elections, President Igor Dodon published the progress report for 2016-2020. We expected this report to refer to his accomplishments in the fields in which he has powers offered to him by the supreme law. In fact, we were presented something similar to an accounting-statistical report – the number of all kinds of meetings or of documents that he is anyway obliged to sign, etc. The report revealed that President Dodon has the sense of humor and knows to sneeringly treat his compatriots. For example, as he didn’t have any accomplishment in the foreign policy sector to report, he gladdened the supporters of the European integration by saying that the Association Agreement with the EU will not be annulled, and the supporters of the Eurasian integration – that we continue to be members of the CIS. And what is the President’s contribution to such a state of affairs actually? We should probably understand that he contributed to maintaining the status quo! This is a big accomplishment that is leading towards a balanced foreign policy.
Evidently, most of the accomplishments were reported in areas in which the President has no powers – society, economy and infrastructure. By publishing his progress report, President Dodon aimed to persuade us that while on the job he substituted the Parliament, the Government and the mayor’s offices that wouldn’t have been able to achieve something without his precious initiatives. Normally, the given legislative initiatives should be reported by the Socialist parliamentary group. A large part of the concrete achievements belong to the ex-coordinator of the government Vlad Plahotniuc, such as the first house, good roads, etc., which he initiated indeed. The highly appraised indexation of pensions is actually not Mister Dodon’s initiative, but is a rather old accomplishment of Ion Sturza’s Government. That government indexed the pensions once a year, while President Dodon proposed that this should be done twice a year. But the indexation is anyway done depending on the possibilities of the budget.
Any inhabitant of the capital city knows about President Dodon’s contribution to the good roads project. The other side of the coin is seen when we ask ourselves why we need the Socialist mayor Ion Ceban,if the country’s President has to come up with initiatives to repair or renovate streets? Judging by the aforementioned, we can say that President Dodon’s progress report is an excellent source of inspiration for ironic and even sarcastic remarks.
We ultimately convince ourselves that President Dodon manages to cover all the areas, except one, in which he didn’t report any success – human rights. Yes, the situation in this field was indeed distressing during his tenure. With his meticulousness of an accountant, he could report: how many compatriots were subject to torture and ill-treatment; how many cases were lost by our country at the ECHR; how many cases are pending; what budget funds were spent on paying damages to those who were wronged by Moldovan justice, etc.? A propos, the President has powers in this regard indeed. We deducted from his progress report that over 40% of the judges in the country were named by President Dodon himself. Regrettably, trust in the Moldovan justice sector remains where it was – at the lowest level.
As it was recently two years of the expulsion of the seven Turkish teachers from Moldova, this case really deserves to be treated as emblematic for the whole presidential mandate. The truth is that the contribution of the seven teachers to the improvement of our country’s prestige in the world is more valuable than the whole cinematographic activity described in President Dodon’s report. Nevertheless, the seven teachers were kidnapped by the law and handed over to the Turkish authorities for being convicted, practically immediately. No one was punished for this. The President could have intervened then, but he didn’t do it for the sake of a grant of several million US dollars that the administration of President Erdogan offered him for repairing the presidential building of the Republic of Moldova. Therefore, the President’s report contains only general expressions about the relationship between the Republic of Moldova and Turkey and nothing about the “transitioning” of the Turkish citizens. The Ombudsman’s Office was the only Moldovan institution that became involved to defend the Turkish teachers alongside ordinary citizens and students. We have what we deserve!
The campaign prior to the presidential elections is to start in less than a month. For now, the aspirants for the supreme post in the state constitute initiative groups and collect signatures for being registered as candidates. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems that this time we will have fewer candidates than usually. Evidently, it is the quality of the candidates, not their quantity that matters. That’s why it’s time to consider what President we should elect. Surely, we are waiting for candidates’ electoral programs. We realize that these should be upright persons, while their promises should be within the limits of the constitutional powers. Or the situation when we have nice reports, but no achievements will continue.
Indeed, referring to the Resident’s progress report for 2016-2020, we can say that if we examine it fugitively, we become impressed by its volume or by the multitude of figures. But if we start to read it, we realize that its content lacks substance? In fact, the quality of the report is characterized best by the proverb – it looks uglier in reality than from afar.
The good news is that President Igor Dodon hasn’t yet announced his decision to run for a new term in office. This is an encouraging sign for now. We convinced ourselves that he anyway fulfills in a jumble the duties of Parliament, the Government and the mayor’s office and why shouldn’t he then deal with what he knows best? If, for being able to exemplarily fulfill the duties of President, he needs the Constitution to be amended, he should better not run as he anyway will not succeed. It’s highly improbable that we will be lucky to see Mister Dodon rather as an MP, as the head of the Socialist parliamentary group, but chances anyway exist.