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Vlad Spânu: Politicians and people should look to international experience when changing the electoral system in Moldova

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In his most recent interview for Radio Free Europe, the President of Moldova Foundation and Moldova.ORG founder, Vlad Spânu, emphasizes the positive changes for democracy that might occur after the adoption of the single-member district majoritarian system in Moldova.

According to Spânu, the switch to the uninominal vote would be an important step for Moldova to install a representative democracy, like in the Western countries and especially, the USA. He thinks that the US, an example that has been working for hundreds of years, is speaking in this regard.

Asked about why the switch to the single-member district system is not widely accepted, Moldova.ORG founder mentioned two factors. On one side, the party lists (in proportional system) allow the party leaders to manipulate both the voters and the members depending on their loyalty, financial contributions or attitude. On the other side, the former diplomat believes that the problem is not in who (Vlad Plahotniuc) proposed the new system, but rather in the perception about the future consequences of implementing it:

“…the citizens of the Republic of Moldova must take this path. Because they need to exercise real democracy and assume responsibility about their vote, for example, the vote for the president. They will go through this process, they will understand if they made mistakes or if they were correct, and in the next four years, there will be new elections and a new exam for the people to elect someone. This is what the uninominal vote will be. The fact that the citizens will elect someone from their own community (will make the deputies) take a higher responsibility towards those who sent them to Chișinău to represent them”, says Spânu.

What concerns the voting and the distribution of mandates in the Transnistrian region, he thinks the participation of those voters should be allowed in the same form as before- they will have voting centers on the right bank of Nistru. Obviously, the lack of control over the Transnistrian territory would accordingly be a barrier in making the elections a widespread process, but Chișinău should face the current situation. Moreover, the deputies coming from there, probably with different opinions, should be welcomed in the Parliament in Chișinău, because the majority from the right bank will mostly decide on national policies.

Regarding diaspora and its mandates in the Parliament, the ex-diplomat says that the Moldovans living abroad should not have their own MPs and instead, continue voting according to their previous residences in Moldova, despite the lack of online or absentee voting.

Spânu admits that, in case no consensus is found on implementing the uninominal vote, the consensus will be directed to the mixed electoral system. More importantly, the new system would not provide an efficient and stable government, but, at least, try to replace the internal party dictatorships and might bring new people- less vulnerable, less controlled. The new deputies would be liable to corruption, but the link with the communities would be stronger and would counterbalance, Spânu thinks.

In connection to the early dismissal of MPs by referendum, Spânu declares that the method of choice is better than that of dismissal, suggesting that elections can be organized every three years, to let the voters elect more often.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy. Inquiries at [email protected]

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Vladimir Socor: Moldova led by Plahotniuc has come to the brink of political and moral bankruptcy

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Western analyst Vladimir Socor argues that the Republic of Moldova is profoundly ill, and the state was usurped by a single-person group of interests in which the rule of law was abolished. There is no more free market – which is controlled by private media interests – and no more justice.

In an interview for Free Europe Radio, the analyst mentions that the situation in Chisinau is a morbid one. A situation of a profoundly ill state that according to the normal international criteria is, in fact, a state on the verge of bankruptcy. “I’m not referring to technical or financial failure, I mean political and moral bankruptcy.”

In this context, Vladimir Socor assumed that the PD leader Vlad Plahotniuc might want to become prime minister in order to be formally received by heads of state from abroad, Western or Russian leaders.

At the same time, the expert reminded that Plahotniuc strangled all his allies, squeezed them, and threw them aside as broken and squeezed lemons, further writes Epoch Times.

“Veaceslav Platon – liquidated; Vlad Filat, Liberal Democrat Party – liquidated; Mihai Ghimpu, the Liberal Party, Ghimpu and Chirtoaca – liquidated allies “

The analyst says this is the fate of everyone, and others like Ilan Shor remain allies of fear, as they are very vulnerable. Shor purchases his relative and provisional freedom by rendering services to Plahotniuc. He is a prisoner ally of the Democrat Party president Plahotniuc, and examples of prison allies will go on.

“I am thinking of a series of prominent figures from the current Government and the leadership of the current Parliament that can be sued for acts committed when they were in power in previous governments: banks, airports, but these characters remain allied by Mr. Plahotniuc at least temporarily,” concluded Vladimir Socor, quoted by Epoch Times.

Furthermore, Socor highlights the fact that the upcoming Parliamentary elections will be a decisive point in the near future of Moldova.

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What is the official language in Moldova and does the ‘Moldovan’ language actually exist?

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If you are a Moldovan citizen, surely you had, at least once in your lifetime, the situation when you needed to specify for a foreigner what language you speak in your home country. If you are a foreigner that heard at least once about Moldova, certainly you asked a Moldovan native: “What language do you speak there? Moldovan?”

In any case, you heard about the eternal ping-pong game between the Romanian and the ‘Moldovan’ languages that is one of the big social disputes in Moldova. When asked about that, some people don’t even know what to answer as the debates between the state officials, the changing laws and the opinion of experts is always contradictory. So, let’s look into it: What is the official language in Moldova and does the Moldovan language actually exist?

Photo source: sputnik.md

Let’s start from the beginning…

Over time, the today’s territory of the Republic of Moldova was annexed either to the Russian Empire (between 1812 and 1918) or to the Soviet Union (1940 – 1941 and 1944 – 1991). Therefore, the period of more than 150 years of russification was paid off and transformed the population that live between the Dniester and the Prut into a hesitant and ambivalent crowd that doesn’t know its history and provenience, and even what language they speak.

How is it possible? Well, there are several important measures that were taken for that. First, the Romanian language started to be eclipsed by the Russian language in the province of Bessarabia formed after 1812: the official papers were issued only in Russian; the school courses began to be taught predominantly in Russian until the Romanian language was totally forbidden; the idea of Romanian language and the Romanian nation was treated as a separate object by the politicians, historians, chroniclers, writers, journalists that served the Russian empire. The main goal of the Russian empire was to lead the population of the Bessarabia province into ignorance. It wasn’t so important to teach them Russian, but to demotivate them to learn the literary Romanian that had only the status of a provincial language used on daily-basis.

The invention of the ‘Moldovan’ language

The situation changed when the Soviet Union annexed Bessarabia (most of today’s Moldova) and the real russification process was performed. Then, a new concept, invented and tested before only on the territory of Transnistria, was applied – the Moldovan language. The hybrid language was formed of Romanian subdialect mixed with Russian words, written with Cyrillic alphabet (the literary Romanian uses Latin alphabet, as it is a Latin language). The main goal – the creation of a powerful separation instrument of the Moldovan population on the territory of Bessarabia from the rest of the Romanian population. The Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR) was declared as having a separate history, cultural values, language, traditions in order to incorporate it easier in the concept of ‘Homo Sovieticus’.

The central government of the Soviet Union aimed to get rid as soon as possible of the Romanian population that remained on the Bessarabia territory after the Soviet annexation in 1944. That was done through the emigration, organised famine, mobilization in the Red Army and massive deportations. The focus was to destroy any evidence of a relationship between Romanian and Moldovan populations that formed before one nation, for speeding up the russification process of the local population. The Romanian literature was declared alien and was confiscated, being replaced by Russian-Soviet propaganda literature. New teachers, loyal to the regime, were brought in schools, along with all Soviet courses: Soviet Union history, literature and, of course, the ideology of the Communist Party.

New Russian population was moved to the MSSR and to other countries that were part of the Soviet Union in order to promote the Soviet ideology and values, as well as to motivate the local population to learn the Soviet Union official language – Russian. Those that spoke this language were able to find better jobs and have a better life quality. Thus, the paradox appears here, as the Russian population established in MSSR adopted a colonialist attitude by understanding that they don’t need to learn the local language. Even today, when the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore, these people and some of their descendants still have the same attitude. This explains why foreign people that arrive in Moldova can hear both Romanian and Russian languages spoken by the population.

The expert’s opinion

According to Eugen Coșeriu, a Romanian philologist born in Moldova, there were few soviet countries that resisted the linguistic assault – Georgia, Armenia and the Baltic countries. In these post-soviet countries, the Russian language is not accepted as an official language. They managed to preserve their native languages and know for sure what language is that.

He explained that the so-called ‘Moldovan’ language is not even a separate subdialect (a subdivision of a dialect) of the Romanian language, belonging to the Moldovan subdialect spoken in the Romanian region called Moldova and in Ukraine. The only difference to the way Romanian people, on the other side of the Prut, speak are the Russian words infiltrated in the vocabulary. However, that doesn’t make it a separate language.

The today’s language ping-pong in Moldova

The Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova (1991 ) named Romanian the official language of the new formed state – the Republic of Moldova. In 1994, the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova claimed that the national language of Moldova is Moldovan, based on the Latin alphabet. In 2013, the Constitutional Court of Moldova decided that the Declaration of Independence takes precedence over the Constitution and the state language is Romanian. However, the Moldovan Parliament members have not yet amended the text of Art. 13 of the Constitution. The phrase “Romanian language” will be introduced in the Constitution if at least 67 Parliament members  support the draft law.

The President of Moldova – Igor Dodon declares himself a Moldovan patriot that speaks the ‘Moldovan’ language and promotes it even on the official website of the Presidency, whereas pupils in the Moldovan schools, including Dodon’s children, are officially taught the Romanian language.

Photo source: cancelaria.gov.md

It seems that the Romanian-Moldovan epopee initiated as an old trick of the Soviet Union will never come to an end. And it won’t, as long as people in the Republic of Moldova will be disinterested in their own history, culture and political situation, as long as they would sell their opinion and their right to vote for a piece of bread, and as long as they will let others tell them what to do with their life and their country.

The Moldovan language doesn’t exist. It’s like claiming that Brazilian people speak Brazilian, Austrian people have the Austrian language as the official language in their country or that Americans can ultimately separate their American English and declare it a separate language (even though some of them would like to). Moldovan language never existed. Now you know why.

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Opinion

Promo-LEX: The abuses committed by the Moldovan parties during the pre-election period

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The first Report of the Observation Mission of the parliamentary elections that would be held on February 24th, 2019 was issued on December 20th by the Promo-LEX Association. According to report findings, several parties and politicians have abusively used administrative resources and started electoral agitation too early. The monitoring period was between July 27th and December 10th, 2018.

Abusive use of administrative resources

Promo-LEX report identified at least two parties whose actions can be qualified as abusive usage of administrative resources: The Democratic Party of Moldova (DPM) and the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM). In addition, contrary to the commitments discussed and included in the Copenhagen Document of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meetings, cases of control over the state institutions by the political parties were identified.

In the case of the DPM, Promo-LEX has identified at least seven cases where the activities of the potential electoral competitor at national level would contain elements of deviations such as: control over the state institutions, abusive use of administrative resources and citizens bribing.

“During 2018, the DPM organized press briefings at the party headquarters where it announced the decisions taken at weekly party sessions. The decisions can be interpreted as commands for the government decision makers. To be noted that it may be difficult for voters to make a difference between the efforts and achievements of the party and, respectively, the efforts and achievements of the Government or of the public authorities. Therefore, a transfer of image from the party to the public authorities and vice versa is observed,” stated the Promo-LEX report.

At the same time, Promo-LEX found that some DPM deputies used administrative resources to accumulate political capital in certain concrete constituencies created for the parliamentary elections of February 24. Thus, for example, Constantin Ţuţu, on his Facebook page, has attributed the merit for several works carried out in Durleşti, Băcioi, Trușeni, Sîngera and Codru to himself. Similar situations were registered for the cases of the deputies Eugen Nichiforciuc, Oleg Sîrbu and Anatolie Zagorodnîi, all of them being DPM members.

In the case of PSRM, the abusive use of administrative resources the projects adopted and implemented from public money by the Chișinău Municipal Council was detected. Such projects as renovation of kindergartens and schools in Chișinău, installation of workout fields, yards and gardens, as well as playgrounds for children in Chișinău municipality were attributed to the PSRM.

Public candidates’ nomination

Moreover, Promo-LEX has discovered that several political parties have carried out activities that can be qualified as candidates’ nomination ahead of the schedule. These are the PSRM, the Șor Party also named the Republican Socio-Political Movement Equality, the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) and the Dignity and Truth Platform Party (DTPP).

The PSRM, for example, publicly presented the party’s candidates for 43 out of the 46 uninominal constituencies established on the territory of Moldova (without the Transnistrian region) in the period of September 8th to November 3rd, 2018. The Șor Party introduced to people the representatives of the regions. That happened while the territories that are in the area of responsibility of party’s representatives coincide with the borders of the uninominal electoral constituencies. The PAS and the DTPP have announced during the pre-election period that they have designated potential candidates to pass the integrity tests.

The actions of preparation and dissemination of electoral information during the pre-election period, in the Promo-LEX opinion, can also be interpreted as a start of the campaign before the stipulated legal term. In this case, it is the PAS and the DTPP actions (the current electoral bloc ACUM) which, between November 5th and December 10th held meetings with citizens and distributed information material (the ACUM commitments) in at least 21 districts of the Republic of Moldova. However, Promo-LEX mentions that the freedom of expression right in case of the political parties and politicians must be respected.

Political context, legal framework and conditions of election conduct

Also, Promo-LEX evaluated the overall political context, the legal framework and the conditions of conducting elections in Moldova.

Promo-Lex expressed a negative attitude towards the implementation of the mixed system. They consider that the mixed system should not have been implemented in the context of the parliamentary elections of 24 February 2019. “There are reasonable suspicions, fuelled by the specificity of implementing the mixed system in societies with unconsolidated democracy, that changing the election system from that of proportional representation of deputies to the mixed one would further favour a possible migration of independent or opposition members of the parliament to the ‘party in power’,” is stated in the report. Promo-LEX mentioned the distinctive feature of the current legislature that has a rate of 38% of deputies who already changed their political affiliation between 2016-2018. 38 deputies out of 101 have moved to the DPM and the European People’s Party of Moldova (EPPM) impelling the parliamentary majority formation.

By analysing the changes introduced in the Electoral Code and the legal framework, Promo-LEX found that the principle of stability of electoral law had been violated in the context of adopted amendments for organization of the referendum on the same day as the parliamentary elections. The association considers that it would increase the costs of the elections, would substantially complicate the organization and conduct of the elections, and would create unfair conditions for the participants. Additionally, the cancelation of the restriction regarding the election campaigning on the election day and on the day before could provoke disorders, according to Pomo-LEX.

Promo-LEX expressed its concerns regarding the rising number of voters registered on the electoral lists by the State Electoral Register (SER) in the conditions of the country’s depopulation by emigration and a negative population growth. According to Promo-LEX, it contributes to the society’s mistrust in the SER functionality and in the quality of electoral lists.

Promo-LEX Observation Mission

The Observation Mission Promo-LEX will present a total of 6 reports of the parliamentary election observation. The stated mission of the reports is to diagnose in real time the quality of the organization and conduct of the elections, accountability stimulation of electoral actors and identification of the positive and negative trends in the electoral process.

Promo-LEX is a public association that aims to develop the democracy in Moldova including the Transnistrian region by promoting and protecting human rights, monitoring democratic processes and strengthening the civil society. The association organizes election observation missions in the Republic of Moldova since 2009. Also, the employees and members of the Association have international experience and participated in election observations in the International Missions in Armenia, Germany, Georgia, Estonia, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Ukraine etc.

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