Igor Boțan: Developed democracy in a state with low political culture is not possible

“Democracy is the power of the people. But I like more the definition – democracy is the institutionalization of freedom,” said expert Igor Boțan, referring to the theory of democracy in a public debate held by IPN on the topic “Dangers to democracy in the contemporary world: impact on the Republic of Moldova”.

“Democracy in the Republic of Moldova can be said to be imitative as we imitate the West. It is a kind of hybrid political regime or defective democracy, as the Economist Intelligence Unit that annually determines the democracy index in the world usually describes it. We have many flaws and these are related not only to the way in which the political class asserts itself, but also to the political culture as developed democracy cannot exist where the political culture is parochial, contemplative, where most of the citizens expect the government to solve their problems and do not become involved, as it happens in participatory democracies. The Republic of Moldova is an electoral democracy. The elections lead to the replacement of the management. But this democracy is defective in other regards,” noted the expert.

Igor Boțan said the form of government in the Republic of Moldova is not clear as it was a semi-presidential republic in 1994, when the Constitution was adopted, while in 2000 it was a parliamentary republic. The form of government after 2016, when the famous Constitutional Court judgment on the restoration of the election of the President by direct vote was passed, has been unclear. From theoretical viewpoint, if the President is elected by the people, the republic is presidential, but the President’s powers in Moldova are minimal, almost insignificant.

Classifying the political regimes as pluralistic, authoritarian and totalitarian, the expert said the Republic of Moldova has a pluralistic regime. The political regime determines the method of forming the state institutions, the method of transferring the power. “Does society take part in the appointment process or the ruling party decides the appointments itself?” Igor Boțan asked rhetorically.

As to the dangers to democracy, the expert said the Economist Intelligence Unit uses such criteria as free and fair elections (when the opposition recognizes the election outcome), the freedom of the media, human rights, the independence of the judiciary, business climate – the freedom of doing business. In all these aspects, there are risks that negatively affect democracy. At the current stage, the challenges related to democracy are migration, climate change and digitization that changes the world cardinally, opening up the way for globalization from which dangers to individual states derive. The responses to these challenges are different in Belarus, Russia, Central Asia, etc. This affects democracy everywhere in the world.

According to Igor Boțan, the Moldovan society’s capacity to contribute to the development of democracy at national and foreign levels is in question as many of the active and talented citizens left the country.

The public debate “Dangers to democracy in the contemporary world: impact on the Republic of Moldova” was staged by IPN as part of the Developing Political Culture through Public Debates Project that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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