Public debate: Split society and parallel worlds in elections in Moldova: causes and effects

Press Release
on the organization of the debate
Split society and parallel worlds in elections in Moldova: causes 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 10 November 2020, Debate No.08 brought together: expert in political sciences Victor Stepaniuc, ex-Deputy Prime Minister; Dionis Cenușa, a political scientist, researcher at the Institute of Political Sciences at Liebig-Justus University in Giessen, Germany and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.

Moldovan society has been divided according to a number of criteria during over 30 years. This “curse” of Moldovan society has current effects, but is activated primarily during electoral periods to produce effects on the election outcome, while the election results produce effects on Moldovan society. Experts invited to IPN’s public debate “Split society and parallel worlds in elections in Moldova: causes and effects” discussed the reasons for such a situation and what can be done to overcome this unfavorable state of the nation.

Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said that in a split society, large segments of people differently interpret the past, have different aspirations for the future and act appropriately to achieve the future options. They resort to the interpretation of the past so as to “demonize” the opponent side and to present the side they represent in an attractive light. There are historical events that are interpreted differently by the citizens. Some say it was “liberation”, while others say it was “occupation”. “Using this past that divides us, evidently we are also divided when we speak about the future. There are persons who say Moldova’s future can be bright only as part of the European Union or near Romania, or, on the contrary, that Moldova’s bright future is within the Eurasian Economic Union,” explained the expert.

According to Igor Boțan, there are things that unite all the citizens – namely the fact that they all live in a poor and corrupt country which the people leave and go abroad, either they are pro-European or pro-Eurasian. The risks of a divided society are evident as, when there is no national unity, a lot of problems, tensions and conflicts can appear and not only in Parliament, at the level of debates, but also a real conflict like the Transnistrian one. “What are the benefits? I think the benefits also persist. Living in a split society, we are interested in the way things go in communities that are centers of attraction for us, like Bucharest, Brussels, on the one hand, and Moscow, on the other hand,” stated the expert, noting there is definitely interdependence between the divided society and the election results, primarily in the runoff.

Expert in political sciences Victor Stepaniuc, ex-Deputy Prime Minister, said the ethnic and linguistic fissure in society appeared about 30 years ago. The phenomenon had several waves, but this fissure during the last five-six years has been less pronounced. “It’s true that the politicians try to promote it. Moldovan society is multiethnic one way or another. We say we have a nation, but with multiethnic elements. I call the nation Moldovan. Our country is called the Republic of Moldova. Surely, it is a nation as only the people who can build a state are a nation, but this nation has multiethnic elements. It has regions where the ethnic factor is very important,” stated Victor Stepaniuc. According to him, the ethnic factor surely persists and indisputably has influence on the electoral score as a part of the population of another ethnicity vote mainly parties of the left, parties that support the statehood and do not support the idea of union with Romania, the European integration idea, etc.

“At the same time, we cannot reproach these citizens for something as they are good citizens of the Republic of Moldova, who work and pay taxes together with us. Surely, we must admit that a part of them with difficulty try to learn and respect the official language of the Republic of Moldova. But things anyway go right, I think, as the people integrate, sooner or later realize that the country must develop,“ stated Victor Stepaniuc. According to him, the biggest risk in the case of a divided society is the fact that it cannot be mobilized for development and the political and intellectual elites should realize this aspect. A problem is also the fact that there were no statesmen who would have worked more and insistently to unite society during these 30 years.

Dionis Cenușa, a political scientist, researcher at the Institute of Political Sciences at Liebig-Justus University in Giessen, Germany, said it is impossible to obtain resilience in a society where there is cohesion. Without resilience, the Republic of Moldova, as any state in the world, will be unable to cope with the challenges. When considering the phenomenon of divided society, it should be clear that without a driving force mobilized around an idea, it is impossible for the country to develop. There are identity and also territorial fissures, namely separatism on the left bank of the Nistru. “The fissures that exist in the Republic of Moldova and that will not disappear overnight somehow do not show their more pronounced effects owing to migration. So, the many parallel worlds that exist in the Republic of Moldova someway diminished their differences owing to migration,” stated the senior contributor of IPN News Agency.

Dionis Cenușa noted that in such circumstances, politicians like the current candidate for President Igor Dodon use for electoral purposes this migration of segments of the population who think slightly differently than those who remained at home. “They resort to this in order to capitalize on the image and to obtain votes in the Republic of Moldova”. The researcher also said that there are Moldovans who migrated for seasonal works and there are Moldovans who already integrated into societies that hosted them and this way turned into the diaspora. There is a difference between the emigrants and the diaspora, but in the Republic of Moldova they speak about the diaspora in general, without making this very important difference. The Moldovan migrants, when they left, took particular elements of the division in society with them and live together with them abroad.

The Agency published 4 news stories on the debate (see the English version of on 10.11.20, „Split society and parallel worlds in elections in Moldova: causes and effects. IPN debate” -; „Igor Boțan: In runoff, people will choose between European Union and Eurasian Union” -; „Victor Stepaniuc: In election campaign, geopolitical confrontation was used less” -; „Dionis Cenușa: It is important that delivered messages do not create new fissures after elections” -

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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