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Public Discussion: Moldova’s relations with its development partners following the electoral system change
on the organization of the debate “Moldova’s relations with its development partners following the electoral system change”. 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 7 August 2017, Debate 75 brought together Vitalie Gamurari, Democratic Party spokesperson; Valeriu Ghilețchi, president of the European People’s Party Group; Alexandru Bujorean, vice president of the Liberal Democratic Party; Igor Grosu, secretary of PAS Party; Igor Boțan, director of ADEPT, the Project’s standing expert.
This topic was chosen because the electoral system change has been for many the most important subject on the public agenda, and will continue to remain so for many months. Both the proponents and opponents of the change seem to agree that the July 20 vote has been a turning point in the country’s modern history. But it also marked if not a turning point, then certainly a period of uncertainty in Moldova’s relations with its development partners, the European Union and the United States in particular. This was reflected specifically in the public statements issued on this occasion by various institutions representing Moldova’s development partners, where the words ‘concerned’ and ‘puzzled’ were not the most critical ones.
The selection of speakers allowed us to evaluate, in a calm, balanced and professional manner, the impact that the electoral system change may have on the Moldova-EU and Moldova-US relations, discuss potential developments, and see what there is to do to avoid further worsening of relations.
Astfel, the standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Botan, director of the Association for Participatory Democracy, made reference to the statements of Federica Mogherini and Johannes Hahn, who said that the Republic of Moldova, when it changed the electoral system, practically fully ignored the recommendations of the Venice Commission. “The Republic of Moldova signed with the EU that plan of action that specified that the European Union in the democratic processes will have the Venice Commission and the OSCE as partners or landmarks. After the Association Agreement was signed, this approach remained standing, logical and legal, while the Republic of Moldova, according to European officials as well, fully ignored those recommendations. This is how our relations with the main development partner – the European Union – are characterized,” stated Igor Botan.
Vitalie Gamurari, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Moldova, said the bill to amend the electoral system was drafted based on the recommendations of the Venice Commission. The opportuneness of changing the electoral system was the only element discussed and the people’s opinion was taken into account here. The PDM collected 850,000 signatures from people who were for introducing the uninominal voting system. The mixed-member electoral system was the result of a dialogue and a compromise reached in Parliament, while the rule of democracy says the legislature has the right to pronounce on this.
Vitalie Gamurari noted the proposal to change the electoral system was submitted by the PDM and also by others in 2013 and was supported also by the extraparliamentary parties and by representatives of civil society. When the proposal was drafted, all the procedures were respected and unprecedentedly broad debates were staged. The relations between Moldova and the development partners haven’t worsened, but there is probably a break or a small misunderstanding. The PDM wants a dialogue with the development partners to explain how things stand in fact and the relations will definitely improve since autumn.
Alexandru Bujorean, deputy chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, said the relations with the development partners definitely worsened with the change in the electoral system and the PLDM is concerned about the situation in which Moldova found itself after the adoption of this system that is designed to keep particular parties in power. “The PLDM is a member of the family of the European People’s Party, which has the largest group in the European Parliament, and the statements made this party and European officials were rather harsh. These condemned the actions of the ruling alliance and the decision to amend the electoral system,” he stated.
The Lib-Dem reminded the statements made by the EPP and ALDE, whereby the European institutions were requested to assess the decline in the rule of law and democratic standards in the Republic of Moldova, to stop any financing, to apply the strictest conditionality to any future financial assistance and to re-evaluate the Association Agreement as soon as possible. All these requests are catastrophic for the Republic of Moldova. “Regrettably, the representatives of the PDM and PSRM do not have the slightest idea as to the effort made by the PLDM at internal and foreign levels for this agreement to be signed and then ratified. Hard work was done and if this agreement is re-evaluated the ordinary people will be affected first of all,” stated Alexandru Bujorean.
Valeriu Giletski, leader of the parliamentary group of the European People’s Party of Moldova, said the relations between the Moldovan authorities and the development partners develop in a normal political framework. Evidently, the adoption of the mixed system generated a more critical reaction on the part of the European bodies, but there is nothing grave here. Greater communication is needed to convince the development partners that the electoral system change didn’t affect the democratic principles and the rule of law.
“Our relations with the European partners develop in a free, democratic way and in normal conditions. We earlier had situations when we had critical opinions on the part of the Europeans. They should evidently be analyzed, but it is also important for them to hear our voice – why did we do what we did? That’s why I do not make a drama of this critical reaction of the European institutions,” stated Valeriu Giletski.
Igor Grosu, secretary general of the Party “Action and Solidarity”, said the Republic of Moldova turned from a success story into a headache and a big disappointment for the development partners. This should be said honestly and the defective communication or its absence should not be invoked as the communication is very good and the partners realize things well.
According to the PAS secretary, the relations worsened because the European partners understood that the Government of Moldova tried to mislead the development partners with lists of laws and mechanisms and was for now successful. “But the Europeans understood it clearly that beyond the negotiated laws, there is also the notion of rule of law and there are captured institutions. These problems are daily faced by the people,” he stated.
Igor Grosu considers the Republic of Moldova will encounter difficulties in restoring this confidence because Moldova is not the center of universe and the EU has also other problems, conflicts and more problematic states, such as Ukraine, Syria and Turkey. According to him, the promoters of the idea modified the electoral system to make sure that they will keep power, to the detriment of the people’s welfare.
The Agency published 6 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 07.08.17, „ Relations with development partners following adoption of mixed electoral system, IPN debates” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/85576; „ Vitalie Gamurari: PDM took into account all Venice Commission’s recommendations” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/85581; „ Alexandru Bujorean: Relations with development partners have definitely worsened” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/85579; „ Valeriu Giletski: Moldova’s relations with foreign partners develop in normal framework” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/85582; „ Igor Grosu: From a success story, Moldova turned into a big disappointment” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/85578; „ Igor Botan: Statement signed by European officials shows their attitude to Moldova” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/85580.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN
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