on the organization of the debate ”Government’s actions in relation to regulatory and inspection institutions: between de-capture and democratic backsliding”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 20 September 2021, Debate No.204 brought together: PAS MP Virgiliu Pâslariuc, Ion Manole, executive director of Promo-LEX Association, Igor Munteanu, university lecturer and ex-ambassador to the U.S., Former Socialist MP Nicolae Pascaru and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.
Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said that when they speak about the impact of corruption on state capture or inversely, they mean that state capture represents domination of the process of working out policies and implementing them by a private power that is often corporatist. This private domination is the result of the substitution of the pluralist balance of the multitude of interest groups, which want to influence politics in favor of one group. The domination by a private group occurs because the interest groups are not equally outfitted with financial, media and any other type of resources. An interest group coming from business cannot be compared in terms of resources with a group of organizations that promote the independence of justice, for example.
The unbalancing of the political system by economic and financial groups actually means oligarchization of power and convergence of the private interests with the public power that the groups manage to dominate. The Party of Action and Solidarity that won the July 11 elections continues the policy to deoligarchize the state. “This policy is challenged by civil society and by the parliamentary opposition for the reason that some of the laws, like the law on the prosecution service, were adopted without obeying the norms on lawmaking in Moldova. After this, PAS came with another message, namely that this party assumes complete responsibility for a so-called general cleanup in all the law enforcement and regulatory institutions so as to remove the influences of the captured state. This is the source of the current misunderstandings,” stated Igor Boțan.
Nicolae Pascaru, ex-MP of the Party of Socialists, said the Republic of Moldova during 30 years of independence has spoken a lot about democracy, the rule of law, freedom of expression, human rights, but the meaning of such words cannot be fully perceived because there are always shortcomings in this regard. The cases lost by Moldova at the ECHR show that the country is far from such principles. “Particular recent events show that democracy is at risk, is under threat from particular forces and this Moldovan political theater should always be guided by players who really want society to be democratized,” said the former MP, noting the post-Soviet countries have a lot to do to build democracy and this is happening, but democracy occurs there where the citizens are involved in the political process and they understand it.
“The current government came to power by peaceful ways, with big confidence on the part of citizens and has big responsibility for delivering the promises. The democratic team led by Vlad Plahotniuc came with similar intentions and we saw what happened later. The current government’s attempt to seize the whole power is wrong and this will not be a democratic process and this team will turn into an oligarchic one that will be led by group interests. With concentration on CEC and its subjugation to a party, the attacks on the prosecution service, the replacement of functionaries from the system without contests and without rules understood by the citizens, democracy will not work in Moldova. A danger is taking shape. The government is now trusted and it should do everything to meet people’s expectations, while those from institutions should be elected according to merits,” stated Nicolae Pascaru.
Ion Manole, executive director of Promo-LEX Association, which is a signatory of the NGOs’ Call to the authorities to ensure decisional transparency, said the position of NGOs is known. Back in August, they called on the authorities not to hurry and to take all the actions within the limits of law. The legal procedures concerning consulting of civil society or other relevant players weren’t annulled in a democratic society and a state with the rule of law. “The public consultations are not the whim of nongovernmental organizations or relevant players that possess particular information, particular analyses concerning concrete areas and these are necessary to those who can and should take decisions and adopt laws to better understand the opinion and arguments of those concerned. The NGOs are those that are primarily characterized by a powerful relationship with decision maker, know the problems and solutions to them. The public consultations are an instrument of the rule of law and are not a whim of some of the organizations. The authorities are obliged to hold them before starting to amend the norms,” stated Ion Manole.
He reminded that in August, when the first sittings of Parliament were held, the parliamentary majority made attempts to hasten the adoption of a number of laws and civil society then called on the legislative body to ensure decisional transparency. “Following that call, we saw a correction on the part of Parliament and this gladdens. On the other hand, such situations should no longer exist and the formal consultations should be excluded. The observance of all the rules is essential in the reformation processes so as to ensure the legitimacy of these, to prevent backsliding and not to set precedents for other governments,” stated Ion Manole.
Researcher Igor Munteanu, university lecturer and ex-ambassador, said he realizes that the government has six months to achieve particular results that would confirm the principles formulated in the election campaign. This period of six months can be the most important one for a government. On the other hand, the return to the slogan “de-capture of the state” is somehow inappropriate in the current conditions as this formula could have been applied in 2019, when there was a singe decision-making center that controlled and pressed everything that moves in the economy, the prosecution service, the state institutions and distribution of resources. Currently, there is a polycentric system for influencing decisions in administration and the economy.
According to Igor Munteanu, the recommendation is for the current government to apply the changes expected from the executive bodies gradually rather than based on the revolutionary opportunity formula. “When you apply such a policy, trying to elude the procedures, the environment of procedural democracy is affected and dangerous precedents can be set and a bad message can be delivered to the foreign partners that follow us.” According to Igor Munteanu, the regulatory agencies are “institutional implants” that appeared out of a long tradition of European states whose task is to ensure conditions for detaching the political factor and for applying norms and standards in very sensitive areas for consumers and businesses. “We should avoid situations when we, claiming that we are democratic entities, actually use too aggressive instruments for adjusting the activity of these agencies to our policy directions.”
PAS MP Virgiliu Pâslariuc said the Party of Action and Solidarity realizes that criticism is normal in a democratic system. Constructive criticism should improve governance. To the extent to which these bring ideas and are beneficial for transformations, they are accepted, welcomed and encouraged. “PAS realizes that things after July 11 changed and the citizens gave their vote. PAS managed to achieve something in the political sphere because it listened to the people, the opposition, civil society. When they worked out the political strategies and views, they took into account the society’s opinions as this is important. One should not generalize and say that PAS does not ensure transparency and does not obey the procedures. The debates before the adoption of laws form part of the law and they represent a decisive norm as the law will be challenged otherwise and will not pass,” he stated.
Virgiliu Pâslariuc noted that society exerts huge pressure on the government. “That’s why we cannot offer time to the system. The last events showed that the system tries to adjust itself to the political will of change. But there is public pressure. The adopted laws represent the will stated by society. Society clearly asked to make the political class, the institutions more responsible,” said the MP, noting PAS will act in accordance with the law and it cares about the opinion of society and the community of experts.
The Agency published 6 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 20.09.21, „ Government’s actions in relation to regulatory and inspection institutions. IPN debate”- https://www.ipn.md/en/governments-actions-in-relation-to-regulatory-and-inspection-institutions-8004_1084490.html; „ Igor Boțan: If government is not predictable, there are reasons for concern” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-if-government-is-not-predictable-there-are-reasons-8004_1084485.html; „Virgiliu Pâslariuc: Prosecutor general used legislative shortcoming allowed out of very good intentions” - https://www.ipn.md/en/virgiliu-paslariuc-prosecutor-general-used-legislative-shortcoming-allowed-out-of-8004_1084486.html; “Ion Manole: Civil society contributes to defending democratic values”- https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-manole-civil-society-contributes-to-defending-democratic-values-8004_1084488.html; “Igor Munteanu: Dangerous precedents can be set”- https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-munteanu-dangerous-precedents-can-be-set-8004_1084491.html; “Nicolae Pascaru: We expect government will ensure proper dialogue with society and opposition”- https://www.ipn.md/en/nicolae-pascaru-we-expect-government-will-ensure-proper-dialogue-with-8004_1084492.html.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN