Public debate: Stakes of presidential elections in view of political class and society

Press Release
on the organization of the debate
Stakes of presidential elections in view of political class and society”. 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 5 October 2020, Debate No.154 brought together: Political commentator Cornel Ciurea; Vadim Pistrinciuc, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policies and Initiatives and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.

The presidential elections as any other important process or phenomenon have a number of stakes. The presidential elections that will take place soon, as any other elections, have sense only if they come to meet also the expectations of the people, not only of politicians or the state. The stakes of the November 1, 2020 presidential elections were discussed by participants in IPN’s
public debate “Stakes of presidential elections in view of political class and society”.

Igor Boțan, the standing expect of IPN’s project, said the stakes in the presidential elections are usually strategic stakes, if the President has the necessary powers. Judging by Moldova’s 30-year-experience, the stakes for the presidential elections included the solving of strategic problems faced by the Republic of Moldova, such as the reunification of the country and Moldova’s entry into the EU or joining of the Russian Federation with the bodies it created. The inferior stakes of the strategic stakes were related to the stake for power and for large powers. Mircea Snegur, after he was elected President of the Republic of Moldova on September 3, 1990, in February 1991 went to Parliament and said that he does not have powers and it is important to review the whole structure of the executive power in Moldova. The legislative body had to comply with this initiative of the President who, at the end of 1991, after the declaring of independence, was elected by the people, but the problem and stake of the former President remained unsolved.

This way, there was set up a special parliamentary commission for the adoption of a new Constitution and the stake was the new Constitution. After the adoption of a Constitution where Moldova was defined as a semi-presidential republic, Mircea Snegur remained in the shadow. In 1995, one year after the adoption of the Constitution, after the July 21 agreement on ceasefire in Transnistrian was imposed on him, after the first Parliament that ratified the agreement with the CIS was elected, Mircea Snegur had to again review his viewpoint. In 1995, he formulated a constitutional amendment proposal that contained the phrase “Romanian language”, not “Moldovan language”. An alliance with the Christian Democratic People’s Front and the participation in the elections 1996 that he lost to Petru Luchinski followed. The latter, who pleaded for a semi-presidential republic, made promises and named the problems he saw, but said that he lacked powers. So, the stake was again the revision of the Constitution and the switchover to the presidential republic.

In 2001, the Party of Communists led by Vladimir Voronin came to power. Voronin served two terms in office and didn’t need a presidential republic as he enjoyed the support of the parliamentary majority. The program of the incumbent President, who is running for a new term in office, contains constitutional reform proposals because, “if a head of state solves strategic problems, this must enjoy powers”. All the three Presidents elected directly by the people banked on the strengthening of the executive power, either as part of the presidential republic or as part of a bicephalous semi-presidential republic, where the President names the Government and Parliament. The opposition’s stake in the current campaign is to consolidate a pro-European movement. For the citizens, the stake depends on the model that the country wants to choose to develop further.

Vadim Pistrinciuc, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policies and Initiatives, said the stakes of society are formulated by distinct groups of people or very small groups that can represent particular groups of interests that can be easily identified. There are also external stakes because those who oversee the elections in Moldova also have some stakes. Particular geopolitical stakes should also not be omitted amid the conflicts taking shape in the region. Not the candidates, but the citizens are the biggest players who see the stakes because the citizens do not notice the specific features of the legislation or constitutional provisions as they look at things in a more practical way.

For the citizens, the current elections are not the last and they are not the last chance. Vadim Pistrinciuc said he does not see attempts among the people to give superlatives to the upcoming elections even if they have different and rather important stakes. The first stake is related to the fact that the last parliamentary elections of 2019 are not considered correct and the people are not satisfied with the representativeness of Parliament as the persons who are now in Parliament do not represent the voting option of the people. The Parliament’s composition is now increasingly challenged owing to party switching. All the political forces challenge the form and way in which the last parliamentary elections took place. This way the people instinctively look at these elections as at an attempt to compensate for the legitimacy of forces in elections.

The most important part of the stake of elections is related to normality. During the past five years, the citizens have been imbued with the perception that deviance is a state policy as many bad things done at state levels are disputed, but nothing happens as a result. “The biggest stake for the citizens is the necessity to see the distinction between delinquency and normality,” stated Vadim Pistrinciuc.

Political commentator Cornel Ciurea said all the elections, including the presidential and the parliamentary ones, contain particular big, strategic stakes. The presidential elections in Moldova’s context  have a specific feature – the identification of the father of the nation as the personage who wins the elections is enthroned and plays a special role for society. The discussions about the limited powers of a President are sterile as not the formal powers are important in this case. The President is a figure who can play a very big role of unification or of division.

“I support the view that the stage of the elections, both the presidential elections and the parliamentary ones, cannot be known from the start. It is somehow shrouded in mystery. We are now trying to intuit the stake and to find the main player who can formulate the role of the stake. I don’t think these players are the political parties, citizens or international players. The stake goes beyond the formulations of these figures. It is something unknown, mysterious,” said the commentator, giving the example of the elections of 2019, where the stake was to remove Plahotniuc’s regime, but this stake became known after the elections already.

Cornel Ciurea noted everyone suspects that the stake of the upcoming precedential elections is geopolitical in character. In reality, the stake is hidden behind other wishes as each of the candidates running in elections does not want to say this and hides the real stake behind more insignificant stakes. It is not known to what extent this stake is strategic for Russia or the West.

The public debate “Stakes of presidential elections in view of political class and society” was the 154th installment of the series “Developing political culture through public 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 on 05.10.20, „ Stakes of presidential elections in view of political class and society. IPN debate” -; „Cornel Ciurea: Stakes of political players are diametrically opposed” -; „Vadim Pistrinciuc about each candidate for President” -; „Igor Boțan: Our society has a problem” -; on 06.10.20 “Vadim Pistrinciuc: People want to be heard, not ignored in upcoming elections”; -; Cornel Ciurea: Polls are not reliable conveyor of people’s message” - ; „ Igor Boțan about stakes of each candidate for President”-

Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN

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