Public debate: Presidency, President and presidential elections: processes, tendencies and effects

Pres Release
on the organization of the debate
Presidency, President and presidential elections: processes, tendencies and effects”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”

Held on 28 September 2020, Debate No.152 brought together: Arcadie Barbăroșie, director al Institutului de Politici Publice; the Center of Initiatives and Public Authorities Monitoring Ion Dron and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.

The Republic of Moldova from doctrinal viewpoint cannot be a parliamentary and a presidential republic. The President of the Republic of Moldova is empowered to be the guarantor of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. It is not right to offer the President particular powers that influence the developments in society, said participants in IPN’s
public debate “Presidency, President and presidential elections: processes, tendencies and effects”.

Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, stated that if Parliament represents the people, the President of the Republic of Moldova represents the state. In other words, the President is the main political-legal institution. That’s why the President is empowered to be the guarantor of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova. The President’s powers related to the foreign policy and ensuring of state security derive from here. The model of presidential system exists in the U.S, of parliamentary regime – in Germany. After a reform was done in France and the fifth republic was proclaimed there, there was introduced the term of “semi-presidential republic”.

In a parliamentary republic, the President is the head of the executive. He forms the Government. This government and the President are under parliamentary control. “Everyone should realize that the separation of powers in the state is the cornerstone,” stated Igor Boțan. As regards semi-presidential republic, this implies that there are three institutions for two powers - the executive one and the legislative one. The Government implements policies, the legislative power forms the legal framework and the President, in any situation, forms part of the executive power, but also has the role of a mediator between the state powers.

The presidential institution represents the executive power. In parliamentary republics, the Government is responsible to Parliament, while in semi-presidential republics, the Government is responsible to Parliament and also partially to the President because the Cabinet reshuffles are done with the involvement of the President. The President is elected either directly, by the people, or by Parliament. The President has the people’s legitimacy when he is elected directly and parliamentary legitimacy when he is elected by Parliament. “That’s why when we have semi-presidential, semi-parliamentary republics, the President plays a much more important role than when he is elected by Parliament and is the expression of the political will of Parliament,” noted Igor Boțan.

Ion Dron, who heads the Center of Initiatives and Public Authorities Monitoring, said the Republic of Moldova is not a parliamentary republic. “The form of government is republic. It is an enigma for everyone what kind of republic are we ultimately. There are parliamentary republics, presidential republics and semi-presidential republics. In the presidential republic, the head of Government is also the President or the President is also the head of Government. In a parliamentary republic, the President is elected by Parliament and this is not the head of Government. In a semi-presidential republic, we witness a form of “bastard” as this combination borrows the election of the President by the people from the presidential republic and the fact that the Government is responsible to Parliament from the parliamentary republic,” explained Ion Dron.

According to him, based on the three types of republic, it seems that in Moldova it is a semi-presidential republic. “I dare to say that we do not have a semi-presidential republic in the Republic of Moldova at present,” stated Ion Dron, noting that the main elements that define a semi-presidential republic start from three criteria: election of the President by the people, considerable powers enjoyed by the President and the fact that the Government is responsible to Parliament and resists until a no-confidence motion is adopted. In the Republic of Moldova, the President is elected by the people, the Government is responsible to Parliament, but the President does not enjoy considerable powers. Consequently, there is no semi-presidential republic in Moldova.

Ion Dron noted that until 2000, the Republic of Moldova was a semi-presidential republic, but not an authentic one. It was a “prudent” semi-presidential republic like Romania, for example. After the constitutional reform, when the election of the President by Parliament was introduced, the Constitution was amended and the President was deprived of considerable powers: appointment of the Premier without the Parliament’s consent, chairing of the Government meetings, signing of Parliament decrees, suspension of Government decisions until the Constitutional Court pronounced on them. In 2016, when the system annulled in 2000 was restored, the semi-presidential republic was reestablished by form, not yet by content as Moldova remained a rather parliamentary republic. However, Moldova is not a parliamentary republic as the President is elected by the people and the one who chooses the Premier should also have the President’s consent. “In 2000, the semi-presidential conception was shattered and currently we are not a republic from doctrinal viewpoint,” concluded Ion Dron.

Arcadie Barbăroșie, director of the Institute of Public Policy, said the election of the President is an important action whose purpose is to give the President partial rights. “We now elect the President directly. Poland also does so. But the President in Moldova does not have powers like those in a semi-presidential republic. I think the election of the President is rather a whim that the citizens can realize directly, but it is not right to give the President partial powers that could influence things in society,” he stated.

According to him, incumbent President Igor Dodon acts against the law. If this had enjoyed more powers by law, he would have went further. “I think objectively the Republic of Moldova does not need such Presidents. It needs solid Governments that would be controlled by Parliament. The latter, for its part, should understand that it bears responsibility for the control over the Government. Even now that the Government manages things improperly, it should report to Parliament and we should move on slowly,” said Arcadie Barbăroșie.

The public debate “Presidency, President and presidential elections: processes, tendencies and effects” was the 152nd installment of the series “Developing political culture through political debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

Representatives of the ruling party of that period were invited to the debate, but neither representatives of the Pro-Moldova Party nor those of the Democratic Party of Moldova found possibilities to take part.

The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of
www.ipn.md): on 28.09.20, „ Presidency, President and presidential elections: processes, tendencies and effects. IPN debates” -   https://www.ipn.md/en/presidency-president-and-presidential-elections-processes-tendencies-and-effects-ipn-8004_1076457.html; „Arcadie Barbăroșie: We must speak about President’s duties, not about election method” - https://www.ipn.md/en/arcadie-barbarosie-we-must-speak-about-presidents-duties-not-8004_1076456.html; „IIon Dron: Model of dictator President appears when people live in poverty” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-dron-model-of-dictator-president-appears-when-people-live-8004_1076459.html; „ Arcadie Barbăroșie: Post of President became attractive after elections of 2016” - https://www.ipn.md/en/arcadie-barbarosie-post-of-president-became-attractive-after-elections-of-8004_1076461.html; “Ion Dron: Not type of republic ensures democratic value of society” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-dron-not-type-of-republic-ensures-democratic-value-of-8004_1076462.html; Igor Boțan: Moldova should be a parliamentary republic with same powers of President” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-moldova-should-be-a-parliamentary-republic-with-same-8004_1076465.html ; „Igor Boțan: Moldovan citizens need political elites to discuss with them -  https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-moldovan-citizens-need-political-elites-to-discuss-with-8004_1076468.html.

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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