“For now, we realized the unsolved problem of premature designation of candidates for mayor of Chisinau... A clear delimitation should have been probably made between the announcing of potential candidates for elective posts, which can be made anytime to satisfy public interest, and the official designation by the administrative bodies of parties. Or the legal norm that sets down candidate designation periods is profaned...”
Designation of candidates for local elections
According to the calendar plan of the Central Election Commission (CEC), the official designation of candidates for the posts of mayor and local councilor for the November 5 elections starts on September 6, 2023. Therefore, at the first stage of the electoral process, the parties must convoke meetings of the responsible bodies in accordance with the statutory provisions so as to officially designate candidates. The electoral legislation also stipulates special procedures for designating independent candidates for mayor and councilor.
The second stage – the registration of election contenders – starts immediately after the electoral councils of the second and first levels are constituted and provided with personnel. The CEC constituted electoral district councils of the second level (EDCs-II) back on January 31. In accordance with the provisions of the new Election Code, the EDCs-II work on a permanent basis, but their members are changed ahead of each election, except for the heads of these councils, who are public functionaries. Respectively, the composition of the EDCs-II for the elections of November 5 is yet to be supplemented with representatives designated by the responsible institutions – constituency courts, district/municipal councils – and representatives nominated by parliamentary parties. The composition is to be confirmed by September 19. Respectively, the registration of candidates for district/municipal councilors and mayors of Chisinau and Balti will start immediately after the composition of the EDCs-II is confirmed and after the registration of candidates for district/municipal councils and mayor’s offices of Chisinau and Balti is announced.
As regards the electoral district councils of the first level (EDCs-I) for the management of the election of councilors and mayors of towns and villages/communes, these are yet to be constituted by the hierarchically superior body – the EDC-II. The process will last by September 29, after the registration of election contenders stars. So, during the next two-three weeks, the parties and initiative groups for supporting independent candidates will convoke the decision-making bodies. After the candidates are registered, the human and organizational potential of parties and the ramification of the local branches of political parties could be assessed.
The third stage of the electoral process – the election campaign – starts 30 days before election day, which is on October 6, and will end on November 3, two days before election day. The second round of the mayoral elections will be held on November 19. We will then see the real potential of the parties - their administrative capacity and the citizens’ support for the future electoral battles. From this viewpoint, the local general elections are the most important ones for showing the potential of political parties. Respectively, the results of the local elections can serve as a starting point for forming alliances for competing jointly in the presidential elections of 2024 and in the parliamentary elections of 2025.
Effects of early designation of candidates
About a dozen parties designated or announced beforehand their candidates for mayor general of Chisinau. This behavior shows that the City Hall is the most desired trophy of the local general elections. As a rule, regardless of the type of elections, there is a considerable temporal discrepancy between the declared intentions and the official designation of candidates. The discrepancy is the effect of the wish to satisfy the curiosity of public opinion and of the necessity of obeying the legal provisions. Respectively, the parties with big pretensions resort to the early designation of candidates for showing their readiness to enter the electoral competition.
The haste often has adverse effects. The Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), for example, announced its candidate, Lilian Carp, for the post of mayor of Chisinau back on June 11. For now, it is not clear if the EDC-II Chisinau will register the candidate of the PAS as the period for designating the candidate was violated. The formalization of the decision to designate the candidate will have to be probably repeated after the period set by law starts, on September 6. This way, the June 11 decision should be regarded as a kind of primary election. Or it is not clear what the purpose of setting by law precise time limits for designating candidates – at most 60 days before the elections – is.
The hurry with which the PAS exhibited its preparations for entering the electoral competition anyway played a trick on it. Firstly, it turned out that the PAS, which holds a parliamentary majority and voted the new Election Code, does not realty understand what it voted and, if it understands this, it does not obey the laws it adopted. This is rather serious, primarily because the PAS became the first party that was penalized for the violation of the provisions of the new Election Code. When being notified by political opponents, the CEC penalized the PAS for distributing electoral brochures of the designated candidate by violating the legal limits.
The PAS’s arrogant nonchalance was a signal for other pro-European parties that the ruling party does not even intend to discuss joint strategies concerning the coming electoral competition. Therefore, it is not surprising that a series of pro-European parties responded to the PAS correspondingly, with a series of acid attacks regarding the PAS’s capacity to govern. It happened after the false start blocked the public activities of the candidate designated by the PAS for over a month and a half. It was this way once again confirmed that haste makes waste. But it was logical for the pro-European parties at least to agree not to attack each other so as not to cause damage to each other.
Following the example of the PAS, other pro-European parties also announced their candidates for mayor of Chisinau. The Coalition for Unity and Wellbeing (CUB) designated its own candidate, Ion Bulgac, two weeks later, on June 25. The Party “Dignity and Truth Platform” (PPDA) announced its participation in the local elections back on February 26 so as to have a pretext for inviting to a dialogue the pro-European forces for the purpose of combining forces. On July 3, the PPDA announced that it identified a candidate that is supported by civil society and other parties, Victor Chironda, without specifying if this was designated officially. The leader of the People Power Party (PPP), Ruslan Codreanu, reminded public opinion on August 5 that he will run for the mayoralty of Chisinau, considering probably that public opinion forgot that the PPP congress designated him back on October 22, 2022.
Common agenda really misses a common agenda
The extremely catching pre-electoral fuss had dispersed hotbeds. Such a hotbed appeared within the Common Agenda of seven parties that on October 11, 2022 joined forces against the PAS. The Party of Development and Consolidation of Moldova (PDCM) was the first party from the Common Agenda which in approximately a month of its constitution ignored the presupposed common forces. In about a month of the constitution of the Common Agenda and about a year before the local elections, the National Political Council of the party designated its candidate for mayor of Chisinau, Anatol Usatyi, on November 13, 2022.
Another three parties of the seven parties with a common agenda, generally more than half, also hurried to announce or designate candidates for mayor of Chisinau before time. These are: the Common Action Party – Civic Conges, which designated Mihail Polyanski on August 9; the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), which designated Adrian Albu on August 6; the leader of the National Alternative Movement (MAN), Ion Ceban, who announced his candidacy for a second term in office on August 25, with the official designation to yet take place. Probably, the parties of the Common Agenda will support each other also in the runoff vote, if that would be the case.
Impatient children of Lieutenant Schmidt
Several political parties that announced early their candidates for mayor of Chisinau or even started the pre-electoral campaign are affiliated to fugitive politician, swindler Ilan Shor. The leasers of these parties, alongside Ilan Shor, behave as real adventurists like the children of Lieutenant Schmidt so as to succeed and gain money from obscure sources. These parties formed part of the so-called National Salvation Committee (NSC) that was constituted by Shorlatan mates whose task was to oust the government and take over political power. Respectively, the NSC included: the Building Europe at Home Party (PACE), the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM), and the Revival Party (RP).
The PACE announced the designation of its candidates for six localities back on March 17. Tatiana Bordeianu was designated for the mayoralty of Chisinau. The plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the PCRM on August 30 designated Diana Caraman as a candidate for mayor of Chisinau. The Revival Party hasn’t yet announced its candidate, but managed to distinguish itself as I was obliged by the CEC to interrupt the distribution of informative material as this was done without indicating the necessary parameters and the source of financing. The police are to take a decision about the eventual administrative sanctions.
The children of Lieutenant Schmidt Schmidt would reveal their essence if they didn’t multiply in an uncontrolled way. The cohort of Shor’s allies from the NSC was recently joined by the Our Party that is a kind of copy of the Putinist movement “NASHI“, which promotes sovereign democracy. Perhaps, in order to be able to use the acronym of the Shor Party – PȘ, the Our Party recently changed its name into the Chance Party (PȘ). The action was preceded by a massive advertising campaign that was accompanied by the filling of the public space with boards with the inscription CHANCE. Respectively, the curious citizens wonder what the source of financing for the advertising campaign was. Will we learn about this from the financial reports submitted to the CEC?
Opportunities for defenders of intellectual property
Among the multiple unionist parties, only the Liberal Party (PL) announced its candidate for mayor of Chisinau ahead of time. In a news conference on July 24, the party’s leaders presented Ion Purice as the candidate for mayor of Chisinau. Another party that recently turned unionist – the PLDM – ahead of the local elections manifested its resolve to fight against the intellectual theft – the luring by the PAS of the mayors of the PLDM.
It is gladdening that the PLDM’s courageous approach in favor of the observance of the intellectual property forced the ruling party to adopt changes to the Criminal Code. This way, on July 31, 2023, Parliament introduced into the Code Article 3251. Active political corruption. This provides that “the promising, offering or giving, in person or through intermediaries, to a public person holding office obtained as a result of elections, of undue goods, services, privileges or advantages in any form for leaving a political party and/or joining another political party are punished with at most six years in jail with fine equal to 2,000 to 4,000 conventional units, while the legal entity is punished with a fine equal to 6,000 to 10,000 conventional units with ban on performing a particular activity”.
This is a unique chance to denounce all the reported attempts by the PAS to convert, corrupt mayors of the PLDM and possibly of other parties. Such an action would represent an excellent launch pad for the leader of the PLDM to return to the forefront and to run for the post of mayor of Chisinau, as in 2007, with the slogan: Stop, PAS! Start freedom and democracy! Given that all the opposition parties are now united by this common goal and the merit of consolidation undoubtedly belongs to the PLDM and its leader Vlad Filat. Otherwise, public opinion could have the feeling that it is witnessing again something similar to the removal of the rat from the burrow or the blowing up of the whole political construct. Courage! Things should be done till the end. The doors are open for returning to big politics!
The elections of November 5, 2023 are the first elections held under the auspices of the new Election Code. The way in which the elections will be held will represent the response to the question about the fulfillment of the second condition of the nine conditions for starting the Republic of Moldova’s accession negotiations with the EU – remedying of shortcomings identified by OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe/the Venice Commission.
Despite considerable criticism, the CEC copes with the challenges and fulfills its duties in an exemplary way. All the decisions taken by the CEC are absolutely transparent. The adopted documents are consulted publicly. In accordance with the provisions of the legislation on decisional transparency, all the parties and all those interested are invited to public debates to take part in the formulator of regulations and instructions stipulated expressly in the Election Code.
For now, we realized the unsolved problem of premature designation of candidates for mayor of Chisinau. In this connection, it is not clear if the district electoral councils will register the candidates designated before the period stipulated by the law or not and will order to convoke again the administrative bodies of parties for designating candidates in accordance with the law. A clear delimitation should have been probably made between the announcing of potential candidates for elective posts, which can be made anytime to satisfy public interest, and the official designation by the administrative bodies of parties. Or the legal norm that sets down candidate designation periods is profaned.