Nostalgia for voting without elections... Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

The inspiration models of the nostalgic Communist-Socialists in terms of elections are, as it was seen, Putin’s Russia, dictator Lukashenk’s Belarus and the experience of North Korea. In this connection, we cannot overlook the own experience of the nostalgic Moldovan Communists...

Pleading of nostalgic Communists in favor of Soviet electoral standards

Ahead of the 100th jubilee of the constitution of the USSR, those who are nostalgic for the late empire are trying to persuade public opinion that the Soviet standards were superior to the current standards in almost all the spheres of public life. The last example to this effect was given by the leader of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) Vladimir Voronin, who took part in the meeting of the standing commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). In the meeting, the leader of the PCRM pleaded firmly “Against” vote rigging! To achieve the announced goal, the leader of the PCRM took part in the designing of “draft documents that are very important for Moldova given the current situation, when the current dictatorial and voluntarist administration of the PAS party is able to rig elections at any level or even to fully annul these”.

Among the documents debated in the aforementioned meeting were: a) the draft model law on international observation; b) the draft recommendation on the combating of foreign interference in national elections; c) the draft recommendation on the utilization of technical automation means in elections; the draft edited variant of a White Book on best electoral and legislative practice of anti-crisis regulation, etc. We must admit that the nostalgic Communists from the Republic of Moldova, alongside the coalition partners from the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), have a rich experience in the aforementioned areas, as it follows:

  • international observation of elections. The Communist-Socialist MPs for several times took part in elections in CIS states as internationals observers under the aegis of the CIS. For example, in the last presidential elections held in Belarus on August 9, 2020, the MPs of the PSRM Adrian Lebedinschi and Alexandru Jolnaci formed part of the CIS observation mission that didn’t identify any fact that would have questioned the legitimacy of the election of the President of the Republic of Belarus. In this connection, it is curious that the chairman of the election commission of Vitebsk region publicly recognized that the elections were rigged  in favor of dictator Lukashenko. Moreover, Lukashenko himself admitted that the elections could have been rigged only slightly: “You know, to be sincere, the heads of our regions have the habit of showing which of them is more faithful to me. Some of them can add 2% or 1%. But not actually 80%... If someone likes 80%, let it be 76% or even 68%....”. Respectively, this experience of the CIS election observation mission, which didn’t identify any deviation from the norm, even if it generated mass protests nationwide and the non-recognition of elections by the EU member states, the U.S., UK etc., should be mandatorily stipulated in the model law on international observation. Evidently, this success should be definitely stipulated also in the White Book on good practices of the CIS election observation mission;


  • combating of foreign interference in national elections. There is no doubt that as regards the foreign interference in national elections, the leader of the PCRM Vladimir Voronin has the richest experience. Namely he was the one who, before the parliamentary elections of March 2005 informed public opinion about the expulsion from the country of a number of citizens of the Russian Federation, whose “task was to employ as advertising agents 6,000 persons who were to be on the alert... imagine what 6,000 persons on the alert means. Also, they were paid daily by US$ 25”. Currently, we convince ourselves that the experience of the leader of the PCRM would be very useful to the commission of the CIS Parliamentary Assembly. We hope that Vladimir Voronin shared with the participants his own experience concerning the involvement of “experts in political technologies” from the Russian Federation, who became involved in the holding of elections in the republic, taking an active part in the election campaign in Moldova. Moreover, the SIS director of that period said that the foreign citizens followed professionally the candidates for the post of MP of the Party of Communists, traced the itinerary of the President’s motorcade, created a network of managers from among foreign citizens who dealt with the bribing of representatives of election commissions. So, the White Book of good electoral practices of the CIS should necessarily reflect this experience;


  • utilization of technical automation means in elections. The most consistent experience in this regard is possessed by the Russian Federation that manages to successfully combine modern methods of electronic voting with traditional methods, such as voting in places that are not specially designed for this. These are very useful because their location cannot be guided by observers who cannot know in advance when and where the voters will be remunerated, if they vote correctly. For example, in the 2020 referendum on the extension for life of the term in office of President Putin, there were used traditional methods – voting on tree trunks and in all kinds of unauthorized places. Moreover, voting was allowed during several days. In contrast, a year later, in September 2021, elections were held for the State Duma of Russia in which electronic voting was also used. The surprise was that the results of electronic voting differed considerably from the results of voting in polling places, in favor of the ruling party of President Putin. Massive rigging took place at polling places, including through massive throwing of ballots into ballot boxes, with the acts being recorded by video cameras. Does anyone believe that the CIS election observation mission noticed something unlawful? Hell, no. According to the mission, the elections were fair. Respectively, the Moldovan Communist-Socialists welcomed the election outcome despite the fact that their Communist counterparts from Russia condemned the mass election rigging and not only in 2021 but also the previous ones.           

So, the aforementioned examples are sufficient for presuming what the White Book concerning the elections in the CIS space will contain. We cannot exclude the fact that the given White Book of good practices, on which the leader of the PCRM is working, will also include the experience of the referendums of September 23-27, 2022, which have been staged by Russia in the occupied territories in Ukraine. So, we should not be surprised if we later learn that representatives of the Communist-Socialists and of the Shor Party were among international observers on behalf of the CIS.   

What kinds of elections are preferred by nostalgic Communist-Socialists?

From the presentation of the leader of the PCRM Vladimir Voronin at the meeting of the commission of the CIS Parliamentary Assembly, we realized that the nostalgic Communist-Socialists from the Republic of Moldova beforehand accuse the current government of the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) of fixing the future elections. We cannot know if the PAS will rig the next elections but we already convinced ourselves that the elections are broadly fixed namely in the CIS space – in Belarus, Russia and other countries – where the nostalgic people are trying to push the Republic of Moldova. The arising question is – why do the Communist-Socialists act like this? Probably because the elections in the CIS are won, without surprises, by those who should win, which is by authoritarian leaders and bloody dictators. Respectively, for the sake of stability, Lukashenko has been in power for 28 years, while Putin for 22 years etc. The secret is that the two amended the constitutions of their states as many times as they needed so as to extend their terms in office. These experiences are very important for the future White Book concerning anti-crisis regulation in the CIS space.

However, we must realize that the electoral manipulations of the authoritarian CIS leaders do not precisely represent the ideal of the nostalgic Communist-Socialists even if the manipulations take place according to Stalin’s formula – It does not matter how they vote; it matters how they count the votes. By all appearances, the ideal of the nostalgic Communist-Socialists is the government by one party that organizes voting without elections. It goes to a practice set immediately after the Bolshevik putsch of October 1917. The truth is the proletariat didn’t need free elections. Respectively, in the Fifth Congress of Soviets of July 10, 1918, there was adopted the first Soviet Constitution according to which the Soviets were the highest authorities. In the practice, their activities were yet controlled by the Bolshevik administration. That’s why the Soviets didn’t leave room for the authentic election of representatives. This way, the elections weren’t universal. Approximately 8% of the citizens were deprived of the right to vote for the reason that they formed part of the class of exploiters. The elections were neither equal as the Bolsheviks didn’t trust the peasantry. Respectively, the representation ration of 1 to 5 allowed the MPs chosen out of workers to rule over the MPs representing the peasantry, with inferior class conscience. Finally, the elections in the superior Soviets were indirect, the MPs being delegated by the inferior Soviets. So, we see that the Bolsheviks attacked great importance to the composition of the Soviets, taking care to fully control the whole electoral process.

In 1936, Stalin announced the victory of socialism in the USSR and a new constitution was adopted on this occasion. Respectively, the elections were proclaimed universal, equal and direct. But the fielding of candidates were the prerogative of the Communist Party of the USSR, which, for the sake of appearances, pretended to be supporting the collation of party representatives and of those without a party, but provided by one candidate in each electoral district. Evidently, the elections were substituted with a formal act – voting for the candidates designated a priori – with the elections involving 99.9% of the voters put on electoral lists. Things developed this way until 1989, when the first elections with alternative candidates took place. The experiment turned out to be fatal for the USSR as the totalitarian communist system was unable to survive the most elementary democratic representation norms. We now see what the nostalgic Communist-Socialist long for. These, in the absence of the single party, would do fine at least with authoritarian surrogates that they want to set down in a White Book.


The speculations of the nostalgic Communist-Socialists about the future electoral mystifications of the current rules should be treated seriously. The new electoral legislation of the Republic of Moldova, which is to be adopted, should be subjected to the most severe checks so as not to allow eventual deviations from a competitive and fair electoral process.

In the same development, the pretentious nostalgic Communist-Socialists should be reminded of: the election method in the USSR when the elections were substituted with the voting of the candidates decided beforehand; the current electoral manipulations in the CIS states, which try by all means to restore the Soviet empire; the resorting to the supporting of separatism, causing of wars and imitation of referendums in countries that try to get rid of the Soviet inheritance – see the experiences of the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and, especially Ukraine.

The inspiration models of the nostalgic Communist-Socialists in terms of elections are, as it was seen, Putin’s Russia, dictator Lukashenk’s Belarus and the experience of North Korea. In this connection, we cannot overlook the own experience of the nostalgic Moldovan Communists. Let’s remind them that together with the start of the parliamentary elections of 2009, they tried to influence the results of these by fabricating a case on the attempt on the life of the leader of the Christian-Democratic People’s Party (PPCD). That mystification was among the factors that caused the young people’s revolt of April 7, 2009 against the PCRM. Later, it turned out that the young people were right as the leader of the PPCD, who was the undying antagonist of the PCRM, was rewarded the post of Deputy Premier in the PCRM government. The irony of fate is that the former heavyweights of the PPCD, who compiled chromatic anticorruption books, are among the leaders of the Shor Party whose president is accused of corruption and of stealing US$ 1 billion from the banking system of the Republic of Moldova. Currently, the Shor Party, with the support of the PCRM, is protesting against the government, demanding snap elections. We have to only persuade then to put off their demand concerning snap elections until after the publication of the White Book on the best practice so that we are sure that the elections are fair.

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