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Politics

Another dispute: ACUM and PSRM can’t share the responsibility for the justice reform

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From the results of the local elections in Moldova, which seemed a trigger of a crisis in the coalition government, the dispute between ACUM and PSRM moved to the subject of the justice reform in Moldova.

After the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) expressed it’s concern regarding the “inefficiency of the Government and the increasingly negative perception citizens have about its activity”, as well as the intention to have discussions with ACUM about possible replacement of “inefficient” ministers, it seems that one more matter needs to be raised to eventual discussion between the coalition partners – the way the Prosecutor General is appointed.

The cause of dispute

Everything began (or maybe it is better to say that it continued) when Minister of Justice Olesea Stamati announced at a press conference that she would issue an order for cancelling the result of the contest for the position of Prosecutor General.

“As Minister of Justice, I cannot submit the list of selected candidates for the position of Prosecutor General.”

According to Olesea Stamati, the reason why the contest wasn’t held according to legal requirements is the lack of sufficient information on candidates provided to the commission in charge with the evaluation of candidates, as well as the fact that Petru Bobu, one member of the commission, evaluated certain candidates in a clearly disproportionate manner. “This fact distorted the final result, influencing the contest,” highlighted Minister of Justice.

Petru Bobu rejected the accusations: “The suspicions are not well founded, I appraised candidates the way I found appropriate,” said Bobu for TV8.

The act of taking control

As a result of failed contest for selecting a new Prosecutor General, the Government decided to assume the responsibility for amending the Law on Prosecutor’s Office, so that the prime minister would be responsible for pre-selecting the candidates.

As per changes made in the law in September 2019, the Ministry of Justice created a special commission for the pre-selection of a list of candidates, which subsequently had to be presented to the Superior Council of Prosecutors (SCP). This task could not be fulfilled because the members of the commission did not have access to sufficient data that would confirm the integrity and professionalism of the candidates.

The newly proposed amendments include selection by the prime minister, according to the approved procedure, of at least two candidates for the position of Prosecutor General and submission of the list to the SCP. Next, the SCP would select one candidate from the list and would propose him/her to the president.

“Unfortunately, the process of evaluating the candidates for the position of Prosecutor General was flawed.We went for an independent commission and pluralism of opinions. But ultimately, the responsibility for this process lies with us. We must assume the radical change we all need,” declared Prime Minister Maia Sandu at a press conference.

The socialists’ anger

The PSRM representatives declared against the ACUM initiative regarding the amendment of the Law on Prosecutor’s Office.  “This means that the future leader of the General Prosecutor’s Office would be appointed by the head of a political party, depending on his personal or political options. Such an initiative of the General Prosecutor’s Office political subordination is unacceptable in a country where intense efforts are being made to reform the justice system,” is written in the official statement of PSRM.

According to the statement, the initiative of Maia Sandu “flagrantly violates the agreement signed by ACUM and PSRM, where it was clearly mentioned that during the justice reform the selection of the Prosecutor General will be carried out by contest, not by a politician.”

“This is certainly not the independence of justice promised by the current parliamentary majority. We can’t go back to the disastrous habits of the past, when a political leader decided who is running the General Prosecutor’s Office.”

The PSRM representatives also demanded the resignation of Minister of Justice Olesea Stamati, accusing her of incompetence.

The expert’s opinion

Political analyst Victor Ciobanu considers that the movement made by ACUM when cancelling the results of the pre-selection contest and taking responsibility for amendments of the Law on the Prosecutor’s Office is a “powerful move” in response to the last statements of disapproval of President Igor Dodon and PSRM regarding the activity of the Government.

“Cancelling the results of the contest is a good thing. Because to admit a mistake is much better than to insist on this mistake. Following the pressures made by the pubic, the contest score was published and it was clear that at least one representative delegated by PSRM tried to alter the results, which is inadmissible. Consequently, I think that was a good decision,” stated Victor Ciobanu.

The expert expressed his confidence that the coalition is not about to crumble until the eventual fall of the Government and snap elections, as none of the parts is interested in that. However, a compromise needs to be reached.

“ACUM should hand over certain ministries to Socialists for giving them the opportunity to be jointly responsible for the government. Otherwise, PSRM is in a very comfortable position to be in power and have no responsibility for the government activity, therefore being free to criticise it,” stated the expert.

Society

What is the Moldovans’ budget share spent on food? Comparative figures

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While most of the European countries’ population spend not more than a quarter of their minimum wage on food, Moldovan people allocate 50,1% of it on food expenditures, estimated a study conducted by Picodi.com.

The analysts compared food prices with the minimum wage, by creating a ‘shopping cart’, which included eight basic products designated to cover the daily nutritional needs of an adult: bread, milk, eggs, rice, cheese, meat, fruit and vegetables.

The total estimated value of the included products was 1034 lei, representing 50.1% of the net minimum wage in Moldova – 113 euros. In comparison with Moldova, the lowest minimum wages in the EU countries are in Bulgaria and Romania – 242 euros and 282 euros respectively, Bulgarians and Romanians spending 23,4% and 29,5% of their minimum wage value on food. At the same time, such countries as Luxembourg and Ireland have settled their minimum wage level among the highest in the EU – 1796 euros and 1574 euros per month respectively, the food expenditures in these countries reaching  only 9,5% and 7,3% of the minimum countries’ budget.

According to the national statistics of Moldova, provided by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the monthly average wage earning in 2018 was 5141.9 lei (about 250 euros at that moment), that being 12% more than in 2017. Also, the consumer price index (CPI) for food products amounted 107.5% in December 2019, as compared to December 2018, while in December 2018 the CPI marked 100.9%, as compared to December 2017.

The same source shows that the average monthly expenditure budget of the population of the Republic of Moldova in 2018 was on average 2407.9 lei per person (117 euros), increasing by 7.0% compared to the previous year. In real terms (with the adjustment to the consumer price index) the population spent on average 3.9% more in 2018 compared to 2017.

The national statistics prove the same thing: most of the Moldovans’ expenses are designated for food purchasing – 43.8%, being followed by the maintenance of the house expenses – 18.2% of the total consumption expenses, clothing and footwear – 10.7%, health services – 5.1%, communications – 4.6%, transportation – 4.0%, housing – 3.8% and education – 0.5%.

In addition, almost 40% of the population of the Republic of Moldova said that their income is only enough for their basic needs, while 24,3% said that the money they earn are not even enough for the basic needs they have, as a survey conducted by the Sociologists and Demographers Association displayed. The biggest concerns of Moldovans are poverty (25,8%), unemployment (23,1%), migration (21,3%) and corruption (19,2%).

Photo: Rob Maxwell |Unsplash

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Politics

Moldova in the last decade// the most prominent political fiascoes the country experienced

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The decisions taken by the Constitutional Court, the expulsion of Turkish teachers, the adoption of the mixed electoral system, the president removed from office “for 5 minutes”, the lack of Government or the doubled Government – there were so many failures in the Moldovan politics in the last 10 years, that it’s hard to count them.

During the last ten years, the citizens of the country have witnessed many changes of the political and state institutions. Moldova.org selected the most relevant events. Here is where we can remember the saying “Every nation has the leaders it deserves.”

1  Decisions of the Constitutional Court from 7 to 9 June 2019

The Constitutional Court of Moldova (CC) announced, on June 7, that the deadline for the Parliament, which was elected on February 24 and validated on March 9, to appoint the new Government expired. The CC calculated that the constitutional term of “three months” provided for the formation of the Government actually means “90 days” and that it expired on June 7, not on June 9. The next day, the political bloc ACUM and the PSRM signed a temporary agreement for the formation of a majority government, Zinaida Greceanii being voted the president of the Parliament and Maia Sandu being appointed the head of the Government.

Immediately thereafter, the CC declared all the laws and decisions adopted by the new Parliament as unconstitutional. On June 9, the Constitutional Court decided to remove President Igor Dodon from office and appointed Pavel Filip as the interim president. After the Democratic Party announced its power withdrawal, on June 15, the CC cancelled its own previously taken decisions.

The Venice Commission published an opinion, stating that the CC violated its own procedures when taking the respective decisions, but also the principle of impartiality towards the political parties. The Commission recalled that the Court’s role is to be equidistant and to act as an impartial arbitrator in the event of a confrontation between political parties.

2 The period of two Governments

Between June 8-15, 2019, the Republic of Moldova had two Governments – the Government appointed by the newly formed majority government, led by Maia Sandu and the previous Government who still remained in power, according to the decision of the CC. Pavel Filip, the so-called interim president, announced the dissolution of the Parliament and the date of future snap elections.

The newly elected Parliament had its first session in the dark, as the technical employees of the building did not come to work that day. The democrats stated that they did’t recognise the new Government and didn’t intend to give up the power. The democrats’ leader Vladimir Plahotniuc accused the socialists of trying to usurp power. A week later, the Democratic Party decided to give up the power in favour of the Government appointed by the ACUM and socialists’ majority.

3 Clandestine interceptions’ scandal

A RISE Moldova investigation has discovered an entire operation of intercepting and chasing the political opponents of the democratic government, which has been carried out in recent years. The operation was carried out under cover of three criminal cases, filed because of inconvenient Facebook messages or statements at press conferences. As a result, it was established that the activities of 52 people, including politicians, representatives of civil society, organisations representatives and journalists, were investigated by prosecutors and police officers.

After coming to power, the ACUM representatives declared that the number of people chased by the former government was much higher. In addition to intercepting phone calls, some of them have also been monitored, as microphones and video cameras were installed in their houses. President Igor Dodon claimed that, in 2018, there were 10 thousand interceptions, out of which 600 at the request of the Information and Security Service (ISS), and 3 300 interception in 2019, out of which 200 were initiated at the request of ISS. Most interceptions were initiated by the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA). Based on the interception scandal, criminal cases were filed against four MIA employees, three prosecutors and four judges.

4 Camouflaged expulsion of Turkish teachers

On September 6, 2018, seven Turkish citizens who were teachers at Horizon High School, were removed from their homes by employees of the ISS and taken in an unknown direction. The state institutions declared the action as “expulsion”, saying that the Turkish nationals were suspected of links with an Islamist group. They have been declared undesirable by the competent bodies and expelled from the territory of the Republic of Moldova.

The Turkish citizens were taken to Turkey by a charter plane and were sentenced to years of imprisonment. Immediately after the expulsion operation, European officials asked the Moldovan authorities “to comply with the rule of law and all judicial procedures” in this case. On June 11, 2019, the European Court of Human Rights issued a conclusion stating that Moldova violated the rights of Turkish citizens and required the government to pay 25 thousand euros for each of the Turkish citizens, whose rights were violated.

5 Cancellation of Andrei Nastase mayoral mandate

In June 2018, the Chișinău District Court cancelled the results of the snap local elections for the mayoral seat of the capital city. The elections were won by the Dignity and Truth Platform Party leader, Andrei Năstase. His mandate was not validated on the grounds that he would have campaigned on social media on the day before elections. Andrei Năstase addressed voters on Facebook and advised them to participate in the vote.

The decision was heavily criticised by local experts, ambassadors and representatives of international forums. The decision remained in force and after being challenged in the higher courts. After one year and three months, the mandate of Andrei Năstase was validated. By that moment other local elections were organised and his rival, socialist Ion Ceban won the mayor seat.

6 The Citizenship by Investments Law


Also in 2018, the Parliament adopted the law on granting citizenship by investments – a mechanism by which foreign citizens could obtain citizenship of the Republic of Moldova. “The Law on Citizenship by Investments of the Republic of Moldova is one of the projects that created favourable conditions for international money laundering,” Transparency International-Moldova states in a report. Such models for granting citizenship are criticized by European officials, and some countries have already given up these programs. In the summer of 2019, the Government instituted a moratorium on this law for a period of four months.

7 The president removed from power “for 5 minutes”

In 2017, the Constitutional Court decided that the president’s refusal to carry out his constitutional duties in appointing a minister represented “a temporary impossibility to exercise his duties” and justified assigning the president of the Parliament or the prime minister as the interim head of state. In other words, the CC decided that the president Igor Dodon had no veto in appointing a minister, and the signature of the head of state on the confirmation decree is only a formal one.

In the period of 2017 to 2018, Igor Dodon was temporarily removed from office for five times, and the respective decrees were signed by the President of the Parliament Andrian Candu. The removal for “five minutes” became a joke of the representatives of civil society and experts who stated that Igor Dodon may claim to be included in the Guinness Book of Records. In December 2018, Igor Dodon stated that he had called for protest in case another removal from power would have taken place.

8 The adoption of the mixed electoral system

In the summer of 2017, the Parliament adopted the law on the mixed voting system. It provided that 50 deputies would be elected on party lists, and 51 – directly by citizens, in single-seat constituencies. The mixed voting system was adopted by the socialists, democrats and popular-Europeans and has been criticised by the Venice Commission, the European Union, the United States and by the political opposition.

After the formation of the new majority government, the Parliament adopted, in the summer of 2019, the return to the proportional representation system, cancelling the mixed voting system.

9 The appointment of the Government led by Pavel Filip

On January 20, 2016, the Parliament where the democrats held the majority, granted a vote of confidence to the candidate Pavel Filip and his Cabinet of Ministers. At that time, neither the draft Government activity program, nor the list of proposed Government members had been made public. The new Government was voted in a session that lasted about 30 minutes, in which the designated PM held a speech for 8 minutes and, in another 2 minutes, presented the Executive’s list. The discussions and debates were omitted.

Moreover, the procedure for taking the oath by the members of the Government also took place on January 20, secretly, at midnight. Thousands of protesters surrounded Parliament, calling for snap parliamentary elections. Subsequently, the protesters entered the Parliament building forcefully, and altercations took place.

10 Ilan Șor became the mayor of Orhei

Being criminally investigated in the “Theft of the century” case and being arrested at home, on June 14, 2015, Ilan Shor won the mayoral elections with 61.97% of the votes. Political analysts described his involvement in politics as an intention to escape house detention.

In 2017, he was sentenced by the first court to 7 and a half years in prison. Despite the accusations, Ilan Șor pleaded not guilty and continued his political activity . Moreover, he also obtained a mandate as a member of the Parliament. In 2019, he received the certificate of integrity to run for parliamentary elections. Later on, Ilan Şor left the country despite the court ban, after the democrats’ power withdrawal.

11 The theft of the century


In 2014, the Republic of Moldova became the scene of an international scandal, following a fraudulent scheme of 1 billion withdrawal from 3 saving banks from Moldova. To save the situation, two governments (led by Iurie Leancă and Chiril Gaburici) took decisions to grant state guarantees for covering the hole in the banking system. To investigate the case, Kroll company was invited.

At the initiative of the political bloc ACUM, a new parliamentary commission was created in order to investigate the banking fraud. It’s conclusions were that the amount of damage could be much higher than initially stated and that the main beneficiaries of the bank robbery were the Vladimir Plahotniuc, Ilan Șor and Vladimir Filat groups.

12 The stolen billion has to be paid by Moldovan citizens in the next 21 years


In 2016, the Government led by Pavel Filip decided to convert the emergency loans, amounting to 13.5 billion Moldovan lei, transferred by the National Bank of Moldova to three affected by the robbery banks, into state debt. Therefore, the citizens of Moldova would have to return in the next 25 years about 21 billion Moldovan lei (including the interest for the emergency loans). It was calculated that every child born in the Republic of Moldova would owe the state 4000 lei (182 euros) from the first day of his life.

13 No president, for almost three years

In 2009, when the former head of state Vladimir Voronin announced his resignation, the Parliament tried twice, but without success, to elect the democratic leader Marian Lupu to this position. In November 2010, due to Parliament’s inability to elect the head of state, snap parliamentary elections were held again. Finally, in March 2012 the candidacy of the former president of the Superior Council of Magistracy, Nicolae Timofti, was voted to be the president. Therefore, the constitutional crisis lasted for about two and a half years (from September 2009 to March 2012).

This text is a translation. The original article can be found here.

Photo: privesc.eu

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Opinion

Ludovic Orban about the Government of Moldova: “Everything that recently happened in Moldova represents a devolution that worries us.”

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Romania’s Prime Minister Ludovic Orban declared in a press conference yesterday, as he paid an official visit to Brussels, that what happened in the Republic of Moldova after the Government led by Maia Sandu fell is a “devolution”, urging European officials “to look at this situation with maximum circumspection and exigency,” as he is cited by a Romanian news outlet.

“Everything that has recently happened in the Republic of Moldova represents a devolution, which worries us, and, from our point of view, the current Government can’t be considered a trustworthy partner.”

Ludovic Orban met with the European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, but also with other European officials and transmitted a message to them.

The Romanian PM called for maximum circumspection regarding what happens in the Republic of Moldova. “I expressed my position to both the Commissioner for Enlargement and other European officials. I told them to to look with maximum circumspection and with maximum exigency to everything that happens in the Republic of Moldova and, basically, if the commitments that have been made regarding the European orientation of the country are not respected, the European Union, the European Commission should react accordingly,” added Ludovic Orban.

“In the context of discussions with the Neighbourhood Commission official, the Prime Minister of Romania also referred to the recent developments in the Republic of Moldova, expressing support for a strict and conditional approach from the European Union, which will allow the continuation of internal reforms, especially those of judiciary, for the benefit of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova,” it is also mentioned in a press release published on the official page of the Government of Romania.

Photo: Facebook/Ludovic Orban

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