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Expert: The possible effects of snap elections in the Republic of Moldova

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The Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IEPR) published recently an analytical note that describes the possible effects that the snap parliamentary elections in the Republic of Moldova could have.

The main conclusion expressed in the note: the decline in the geopolitical character of the recent parliamentary elections, the delay in functioning of the institutional structures of the newly elected parliament, and the uncertainty about the formation of a parliamentary majority capable of appointing a new government, escalates the risk of having snap parliamentary elections.

According to the author of the document, Mihai Mogîldea, an IEPR associate expert, more than 2 months after the parliamentary elections, the political parties that entered the Parliament failed to advance in the establishment of a parliamentary majority. The only rounds of consultations, organized by the Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the political bloc ACUM, revealed the diametrically opposed positions regarding a possible coalition formation.

Moreover, the character of the geopolitical vote, used in the previous elections as a powerful tool of dividing the society on the basis of language, ethnicity, geographical location and geopolitical options, has changed. “As less geopolitical discourse during the last pre-electoral and electoral period was present, the attention of the political parties was focused on other areas besides foreign and security policy of the Republic of Moldova,” stated Mogîldea.

At the same time, by analyzing the impact of the mixed electoral system and electoral rhetoric on the results of the parliamentary elections, the author concluded that the current electoral system favoured to a large extent the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM), which with a result of 23.62% of the votes (the results in the national constituency) obtained 30 seats in Parliament (out of which 17 seats were allocated based on single-seat constituencies results). On the other hand, the mixed electoral system clearly disfavoured the ACUM bloc, which received 26.84% of the votes and only 26 seats (12 seats based on single-seat constituencies results). Even if the PSRM obtained the highest electoral score (31.15%) and the highest number of seats (35), it proved to suffer the greatest loss from the mixed electoral system. Due to the configuration of the single-seat constituencies, the PSRM lost its primacy in the regions considered to be pro-Russian.

Therefore, the following effects of early parliamentary elections in Moldova can be highlighted:

Effect 1. Running early parliamentary elections in in a short space of time after the local elections could favor the DPM, which could get a higher score of about 5-7% due to its administrative resources at the local level.
Effect 2. The active involvement of President Igor Dodon in a possible electoral campaign for the snap parliamentary elections would facilitate the wider mobilization of Socialists’ voters.
Effect 3. Keeping the non-geopolitical character of the electoral campaign might disadvantage the PSRM, whose electorate may partially and gradually migrate to the supporters of the “Șor” Party.
Effect 4. The organisation of snap parliamentary elections could cause a lower presence in the polls during the fifth voting process organized in only three years.

Important

An International Monetary Fund mission will visit Chişinău next week

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An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission, led by Ruben Atoyan, will be visiting the capital city of the Republic of Moldova during January 22 – February 5, 2020, as a press release of the IMF permanent representative office in Moldova stated.

According to the statement, during the visit, the mission will hold discussions with Moldovan authorities “in preparation of the 2020 Article IV consultation and in the context of the sixth and final reviews of Moldova’s IMF-supported program under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) arrangements.” 

Under Article IV of the IMF’s Articles of Agreement, the IMF holds bilateral discussions with members. First, a staff team visits the country, collects economic and financial information, and discusses with officials the country’s economic developments and policies. On return to headquarters, the staff prepares a report, which forms the basis for discussion by the Executive Board (IMF Factsheet on Surveillance), as it is explained on the organisation’s official page.

“The mission will take stock of the recent economic developments and the progress in authorities’ program implementation, update and assess the macroeconomic outlook, and discuss with the authorities medium-term challenges and risk facing Moldova’s economy and policies to address them,” is mentioned in the press release.

The last visit of the IMF staff team in Moldova took place during October 2–8, 2019. At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Atoyan made the following statement:

“We commend the authorities for taking decisive actions to bring the IMF-supported program back on track and advancing reforms. During the past week, we have held constructive discussions on recent economic developments and policies to maintain macroeconomic and fiscal stability. To this end, the mission initiated discussions on policy priorities and financing for the 2020 budget. Discussions on measures and reforms to support the fiscal policy package for 2020 will continue in the period ahead, including during the upcoming IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, D.C.”

In December 2019, Prime Minister Ion Chicu declared that a pause in the relationship with the IMF could be taken if the given organisation opposes investments in infrastructure or insists on the rise in gas tariffs. “Our goal is to build lasting relationships with the IMF, but not at any cost,” stated Premier Ion Chicu.

The head of the Moldovan Government noted that a new program could be signed with IMF, after the current program expires in March. However, according to him, the IMF is a partner that imposes conditions that can restrict the Government’s development plans and investments in infrastructure. “The IMF is a partner of the Republic of Moldova and I am for having a program supported by this institution. Beyond the financial aspect, there is the one of reforms. I want to finalise the existing program by March and then have another,” said Ion Chicu.

Moldova’s three-year IMF program was approved on November 7, 2016, being supported by a loan of s 129.4 million special drawing rights (SDR), which is about $182 million, or 75% of the Republic of Moldova’s quota. 115 million SDR (about US$160 million) have been already disbursed. Two thirds of the loan are provided under the Extended Credit Facility, which carries a zero interest rate through 2018, a grace period of 5½ years, and a 10-year maturity. The rest of the loan is provided under the Extended Fund Facility, which carries an annual interest rate equal to the SDR basic rate of charge (currently 1.7 percent), and is repayable over 10 years with a 4½ -year grace period.

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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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