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Has the legislative power in Moldova really changed? The ‘audit’ of the new parliament structure

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The Constitutional Court of Moldova validated on Saturday, March 9th, the parliamentary elections held on February 24 and the mandates of the 101 members of the future parliament. Thus, four political parties and three independent deputies will meet in the newly formed parliament.

More information about the structure of the parliament of the Republic of Moldova here.

Now let’s compare the new parliament structure and some older versions of it and see how new it is in reality. According to certain opinions, new people and new factions in the parliament mean one more chance to get the things changed in Moldova. Does it work in reality?

When comparing the factions that entered in the parliament, only 2 political parties that had been part of the legislative in 2014 earned mandates in 2019 as well – the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and the Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM).

The Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (LDPM), the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) and the Liberal Party (LP) were replaced by the electoral bloc ACUM, the “Șor” Party and 3 independent candidates. Consequently, 36 seats in the future parliament will be occupied by new factions. Doesn’t sound too bad, isn’t it?

The seats distribution in the Parliament of Moldova in 2014| Photo: agora.md

However, when digging deeper and looking at the persons that got the seats in the parliament, it can be observed that, as compared to the lists of members of the Parliament of Moldova in 2014, those of the PSRM and the DPM in 2019 didn’t change too much.

Therefore, on the PSRM current lists 17 members of the 2014 parliament managed to hold their mandates, whereas the DPM has 12 members of the 2014 version of parliament on its current lists. One member of the electoral bloc ACUM, previously a LP member in the parliament, got a new seat.

Moreover, when going even further to the results of the parliamentary elections in 2010, one can notice that some of the members of parliament back then, that took a break in 2014, were ‘recycled’ by the political parties and appeared again on the lists of members of the 2019 parliament.

Hence, one PSRM member, one ACUM member and 3 DPM members that had been members of the Parliament of Moldova in 2010 are back on the 2019 list of members of parliament.

In total, 35 out of 101 members, that meaning more that one third of the future parliament, had previously ruled in the Moldovan legislative.

It is important to mention that since 2014, some other transformation of the parliament took place. Therefore, its structure in 2019 right before the elections wasn’t the same as after announcing the results of elections in 2014. Some of the politicians ‘migrated’ from one party to another (particularly, to the DPM party), others disappeared from the political arena (see the case of the former Prime Minister of Moldova Vladimir Filat).

Is it right or is it wrong to have the same people in power again and again when things are not going better? Time will show us. However, considering the previous experience, one thing can be surely concluded: people of Moldova can’t really learn from their previous mistakes.

Photo: sputnik.md

Important

All you need to know about the local elections held in Moldova on October 20th

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898 mayors, 10 472 local councillors, as well as 1108 district and municipal councillors run in the local elections held in all administrative-territorial units (municipalities, district, cities and villages), except for the localities on the left bank of the Dniester and the municipality of Bender on October 20th.

According to the data provided by the electoral authorities (Central Electoral Commission), there are 3 285 894 people in the State Register of Voters, out of whom 2 818 228 are voting citizens. The voter turnout was 41.68% at the national level, therefore the local elections were validated.

Local elections’ results

In the first round, 518 mayors were elected in Moldovan localities: 191 mayors from the Democratic Party, 124 represent the Socialist Party, while the political bloc ACUM has 82 mayors. The Liberal Democrat Party has 26 mayors, the “Șor” Political Party -13, while “Our Party” is represented by 10 mayors. 4 elected mayors are from the Communist Party, 2 represent the Party of National Unity, whereas the Romanian Popular Party and the Liberal Party are represented by one mayor each. At the same time, 64 elected mayors were running as independent candidates.

Such big cities as Bălți (Renato Usatîi, the candidate of “Our Party”), Cahul (the independent candidate Nicolae Dandiș) and Orhei (the candidate of “Șor” Political Party Pavel Verejan) already elected their mayors.

As mayors shall be elected with 50% plus one vote, some of the candidates didn’t manage to cross the threshold. Therefore, the second round of elections will be organised in 380 localities (including in Chișinău) on November 3rd.

The candidate of the Socialist Party Ion Ceban, who has accumulated 40.19% of the votes, and the candidate of ACUM Andrei Năstase, who was elected by 31.08% of voters will be running in the second round.

It is interesting to note that the elections results in Chișinău follow the same pattern as in June last year, when the same two candidates run for mayor of the capital city, obtaining almost the same results in the first round.

More about the local elections’ results here.

Snap parliamentary elections’ results

In parallel with local elections, snap parliamentary elections were held for 4 single-seat constituencies, after Andrei Năstase, Maia Sandu, Viorel Melnic and Vladimir Plahotniuc gave up their parliamentary mandates.

After processing all minutes, it was established that the mandates were distributed as follows: one to the Democratic Party, one to the Socialist Party, and two to the political bloc ACUM, according to the preliminary data presented by the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Observation Missions

The Promo-LEX Observation Mission for the general local and new parliamentary elections found 743 incidents reported by its observers, including cases of observers’ intimidation, cases of presence of advertising materials, posters, electoral displays within the precinct (100 meters from the polling station), cases of electoral/ negative campaigning to influence the choice of voters, cases of rumours, attempts or even cases of material or monetary rewards offered to voters to influence their choice, cases of organised transportation of voters, cases of unjustified presence of unauthorised persons in the polling stations or within 100m of it, cases of acts of violence or intimidation of voters, cases of unjustified group voting, as well as cases of photographing of the ballot papers or other violations of the secret of voting, etc.

As compared to the parliamentary elections of February 2019, when the members of the Promo-LEX Observation Mission reported 1020 incidents, the current number of reported incidents was lower.

At the invitation of the Moldovan authorities, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe delegated 11 teams of 24 observers to observe the local elections around 180 polling stations across the country.

“Generally, the elections were organised by well-prepared committees, the voting was conducted in an orderly manner and the counting was done in a professional manner,” declared Vladimir Prebilic, the Head of the Congress delegation, at a press conference, reported the official Council of Europe page.

The budget

The Central Election Commission has planned a budget of 84 million lei for the first round of local elections. The second round could cost almost 27 million lei, according to the CEC Decision no. 1874 of November 14th, 2018 regarding the approval of the budget of the Central Election Commission for 2019.

More about the elections’ process and candidates here.

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Society

How much alcohol do Moldovans consume? The repercussions and solutions of this problem

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The Republic of Moldova is one of the few countries in this world that celebrates the “National Wine Day”. The celebration is organised every year on first weekend of October. Thousands of people gather, at that time, in the city centre of Chișinău to taste newly appeared on the market, as well as popular types of wine produced by wineries from all over the country. The fete of 2019 hosted 68 wine producers.

At the same time, the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global status Report on Alcohol and Health for 2018 says that Moldova has the highest levels of alcohol consumption per capita in the world. Even though the trend of alcohol consumption in Moldova is decreasing, as it dropped from 21.6 litres per capita in 2005 to 15.1 litres per capita in 2016 for persons over 15 years, that still does not remove it from this top.

According to the report, Moldovans mostly drink wine – 57% of their consumption is represented by wine, followed by 25% spirits and 16% beer.

Alcohol and health

It is not as important to analyse the quantity of the drunk alcohol, as the way it is consumed and the effects on the population. Therefore, the same WHO report states that, in 2016, 1907 persons out 100 000 died of liver cirrhosis, 188 out of 100 000 died of road traffic injuries and 799 out of 100 000 died of cancer. According to national statistics, there were also recorded 3.5 deaths per 100,000 people caused by alcohol intoxication in 2016.

source: time.com

Alcohol is the cause of over 200 different diseases, including: neuropsychiatric disorders (epilepsy, depression, anxiety), digestive disorders (alcoholic liver cirrhosis, acute and chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic gastropathy), cancers (of the digestive tract and breast) or cardiovascular diseases (ischaemic, hemorrhagic, hypertension). Sexual dysfunctions are also very common – impotence for men and frigidity for women. When consuming an excessive amount of alcohol, the general tone of the body decreases, the interests, the goals in life disappear.

Alcohol abuse by pregnant women presents an essential danger to the unborn child. When a pregnant woman drinks, alcohol is accumulated in the fetus’s body. The toxic effect is extremely high during intrauterine development, causing irreversible damage to the central nervous system of fetus: neurons do not develop properly, some cells are destroyed, others develop abnormally, as Ministry of Health is warning.

Alcohol and teenagers

Young people alcohol consumption is another alarming phenomenon in the Moldovan society. The data (the 2015 ESPAD Report) shows that, in Moldova, 82% of pupils in 8th and 9th grades have consumed alcohol at least once in their lifetime. About 9% of them declared that they already suffered an alcohol intoxication.

Alcohol and drivers

This year, traffic police officers discovered 3751 cases of drunk drivers. Because of drunk drivers, 30 people lost their lives on the country’s roads, and 134 suffered traumas. According to the National Patrol Inspectorate, the information campaigns, operations and sanctions applied by the police seem to be ignored by the drivers, which endanger the safety in road traffic.

source: politia.md

Alcohol and violence

In addition to the impact on health and high risk of causing traumas, the excessive alcohol consumption may have dramatic social consequences, such as relational problems (deterioration of family relationships, separation, divorce, abuse and neglect of children), loss of friends, material difficulties, loss of work, loss of home, social exclusion, legal issues (fines, imprisonment), inappropriate sexual behaviour (unprotected sex, rape, unwanted pregnancy), etc.

According to the WHO report, men consume 4 times more alcohol than women. Therefore, the consumption of alcoholic beverages increases the risk of domestic violence, especially towards women.

A report from 2011 on violence against women in the Republic of Moldova shows that 79% of respondents consider excessive alcohol consumption to be the main cause of domestic violence and a share of 38.7% of women in Moldova are victims of physical violence because of their consuming alcohol husband, whereas 50,4% of women are victims of sexual violence. Even though the data may be a bit outdated and the situation could have been improved in the meantime, the numbers are more than alarming.

Identified solutions

Moldova has a national policy regarding alcohol consumption, implemented excise taxes on alcohol and restrictions for selling alcoholic beverages. In 2012, the Ministry of Health adopted an eight-year national plan to ban certain advertisements, raised taxes on hard liquor, restricted sales hours and raised the legal drinking age from 16 to 18. Also, the government reduced the legal blood alcohol content, made penalties more severe and increased breath testing.

Various measures are tried to be implemented by the local authorities as well. In 2018, the former mayor of Puhoi village, Petru Frunze, promoted an innovative project. He invited 20 alcohol addicted persons to sign an agreement with the mayor’s office, which obligated them to stop consuming alcoholic beverages for half a year. Instead, he promised them jobs and cash prizes worth 1,000 MDL.

source: time.com

The purpose of the initiative was to determine capable to work but alcohol-dependent citizens to be hired and work, thus to reduce domestic violence. Petru Frunze believes that in order to solve the problem of alcoholism in the country, a specialised institution must be created, as Moldova.org reported.

“There should be someone who always watches over them, because otherwise they fall into temptation. It would be good to have an institution at the national level to deal with such things, to develop rehabilitation programs for alcohol addicts. In addition, the problem begins in the teenage years. Even if young people are graduating, they are not encouraged to start to work. There are many jobs that are not so well paid, but still a salary of 5,000-6,000 lei is a better alternative than becoming alcoholic. The state must get involved.”

Currently, the project is no longer carried out in Puhoi. However, it may serve as a good example of trying to solve such social problems on the local level.

Last year, the National Probation Inspectorate, which aims to implement the measures of reintegration of the Moldovan offenders in the society, set up a method to fight drunk or drugged drivers: their driving licences are withdrawn. In order to recover them, drivers have to take special courses.

The program was called “Drink & Drive” and started in March 2019, including 12 sessions. During two of them, the beneficiaries go to the Legal Medicine Centre and the Emergency Hospital. They participate in the autopsy process and even wash the bodies or their places of storage, and in case of emergency, they must provide assistance to road accident victims.

At the same time, the National Police of Moldova launched a telephone line (067 112 902) exclusively for the notification of the Police regarding the cases of drivers driving or attempting to drive their cars while being drunk.

A still existing problem

According to Time, accurate figures for Moldova are hard to reach because up to 70% of consumed alcohol is homemade wine. At the same time, while taxes on hard liquor were raised, beer and wine are still cheap. There is no legal requirement of asking beer and wine consumers to present their ID in Moldovan pubs and bars.

Moreover,  the existing regulations are not effectively enforced. For example, most bars and supermarkets don’t care about the legal time restrictions, nor the about the legal age limits, especially in the countryside.

The law on preventing and combating domestic violence in Moldova still contains lacuna and is not fully enforced to fight this phenomenon.

Photo: time.com

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Politics

The report of the Bank Fraud Investigation Commission: “The looting process was coordinated with politicians and state officials.”

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On October 17th, the report on elucidating all circumstances of the banking system looting and investigation of the banking fraud was presented by the Bank Fraud Investigation Commission in the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova.

Alexandru Slusari, the head of Commission declared, during the presentation of the report, that the amount looted from the banking system that appears in the Kroll report is between 900 million and 1 billion dollars. “However, taking into account the information provided by the National Bank of Moldova and the Prosecutor’s Office, there are suspicions that the amount of damage was much larger,” said Slusari.

The head of Commission stated also that, according to the conclusions of the report, the final beneficiaries of the bank robbery were Vladimir Plahotniuc (former chairman of the Democratic Party of Moldova), Ilan Șor (businessman and former Mayor of Orhei) and Vladimir Filat (former Prime Minister of Moldova), as well as some of their trusted people. Also, the National Commission for Financial Markets and the National Bank were involved in the plan regarding the attack against the Savings Bank of Moldova, leaded by Vladimir Plahotniuc and Veaceslav Platon.

As Slusari stated, the General Prosecutor’s Office sabotaged the investigation of the banking system looting between 2015-2019. “In many cases the investigation was deliberately delayed or used selectively for political purposes,” said Alexandru Slusari.

As consequences of the bank fraud, the national currency depreciated by 42.2%, thus triggering a currency crisis between November 2014 and February 2015, while the annual inflation in 2015 constituted 10.2%, double as compared to 2014. Moreover, the report shows that bank fraud led to the degradation of democratic standards and aggravated corruption in the Republic of Moldova.

The commission, therefore, recommended to the Parliament to establish the circumstances that would allow the current deputy governors of the National Bank of Moldova (NBM), Ion Sturzu and Aurel Cincilei, to be dismissed. Also, it advised the Anticorruption Prosecutor’s Office to criminally investigate some of the former state officials – Iurie Leancă (former Prime Minister), Dorin Drăguțanu (former Head of the NBM), Andrian Candu (former President of the Parliament), Anatol Arapu (former Minister of Finance) and Emma Tăbârță (former deputy governor of the NBM).

“These persons allowed granting of state guarantees to the involved banks without the immediate introduction of special state administration regime, which had serious consequences for the banking system, as huge amounts of money were withdrawn between November 7-27, 2014.”

At the same time, the Government and the NBM were addressed to examine the publication of all materials related to the looting of the banking system and to initiate agreements with all offshore areas on the exchange of tax information.

The Prosecutor General’s Office was advised to investigate the reasons for the stagnation of the investigation initiated by the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office on the banking system looting, as well as to cooperate with international special services to recover the stolen funds. Additionally, an audit on the legality of the allocation of financial resources granted as emergency loans should be conducted by the Ministry of Finance.

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