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Public Discussion: Starting position of political parties and potential independent candidates on the pro-unification platform before electoral year
on the organization of the debate “Starting position of political parties and potential independent candidates on the pro-unification platform before electoral year”. 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 24 November 2017, debate 82 brought together Vitalia Pavlicenco, president of the National Liberal Party; Vasile Costiuc, president of the Democratia Acasa Party; Valeriu Saharneanu, member of the Liberal Reformatory Party’s Political Bureau; Ana Guțu, senior vice president of the National Unity Party; historian Octavian Țîcu of the Academy of Sciences’ Institute of History; and Igot Boțan, director of ADEPT, as the Project’s standing expert.
The debate continued the topic started on November 23, when we had representatives of the alternative pro-European platform. In a few words, the speakers in the previous debate agreed almost unanimously that close cooperation is critical during the campaign next year. Moreover, a common bloc would be necessary to help these parties adapt to the new conditions of the mixed voting system and thus stand up united to the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party, which they consider strong and acting in concert.
The second debate aimed to discuss the starting positions of the political parties advocating unification with Romania and their mutual relations. The question about the future of their relations during the 2018 campaign could be resumed to the following: “cooperation, neutrality, or fratricide?” There were signals in the past that could be interpreted in the first, the second and the third way. But before discussing their future relations, we neded to see what positions each of the represented party had.
The standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Botan, director of the Association for Participatory Democracy (ADEPT), said the unionist segment is very important, especially because the dimensions of this segment expand. “We have a pronounced unionist segment. For us, it is important for the citizens with unionist views to be sure that this segment in elections will not be dispersed. Such discussions are needed to see exactly the perceptions of the leaders of these parties, what they can offer the citizens so that these are not disappointed because the mixed system, specifically its nominal part, pulverizes and throws into the garbage bin the largest part of the votes. It can happen that a candidate who won 25% of the votes would represent a constituency in Parliament, while 75% of the votes would be thrown away,” stated Igor Botan.
In the same connection, Vitalia Pavlichenco, chairwoman of the National Liberal Party (PNL), said that several years ago the unionist platform hadn’t been taken into account much. The PNL in time managed to institutionalize the unionist current in a legal way so that this segment imposed itself, grew and started to be regarded by analysts as a political option among the citizens. The disappointment witnessed since 2009 led to the polarization of society. In the period, the people’s support for the European course has declined, that for the Eurasian course persists, while that for the unionist course could equal the support for pro-European course in time.
“We can say that since 2007 until now, the unionists obtained more courage to publicly express their option and the people’s support for this segment increased,” stated Vitalia Pavlichenco. She noted the PNL is ready to have a dialog with any unionist or pro-European party and the entities that separated themselves from the Liberal Party should think if they can return to a discussion.
Vasile Costiuc, chairman of the Party “Democracy at Home”, said the unionist parties are pro-European by definition because the Union with Romania means integration into the EU, but the pro-European parties during the past few years have been less European and contributed to the diminution of people’s confidence in the European course. “The mixed electoral system from the start puts the unionist parties in a position of inferiority as I’m not sure which of the parties or candidates will win in a constituency if they openly speak about the rapprochement with Romania. We yet know very well that our opponents have administrative, media and financial resources that they can use. If the runoff is not introduced, the chance that we will have MPs elected in constituencies will be slim even if a unionist bloc is created,” noted Vasile Costiuc.
For his part, Valeriu Saharneanu, a member of the Political Bureau of the Liberal Reformist Party (PLR), said the party he represents realizes the stake of the future parliamentary elections and the potential of the ruling parties that make the political game real. “We didn’t insist so much on the definition of unionism against Europeanism as we must have a pragmatic vision and realize that the stake of elections is the oligarchic state in the current composition and the transfer of power to the same players after the elections of 2018. I refer to the Democratic Party, which does its best to rig the elections. The campaign prior to the 2018 elections was started this March, when the PDM proposed introducing the mixed electoral system and now works together with President Dodon so as to be able to pass the election threshold and obtain an absolute constitutional majority,” stated the politician.
Valeriu Saharneanu added the PLR realizes that the unionist segment cannot achieve success alone and should thus form a bloc together with pro-Europeans and should not allow the opponents to use the value of pro-Europeanism. ”Europeanism and unionism go hand in hand and can help each other. These options and forces are allied and should be used or we would reject an alliance with the European Union. We should realize that if we want the Union with Romania, we should promote Europeanism and should not separate ourselves. The creation of a platform is the stake that the unionists should strengthen so that we could later form an alliance with the Europeanists,” said Valeriu Saharneanu.
Ana Gutu, first deputy head of the National Unity Party (PUN), said the unionist movement started to be ultimately taken seriously. Two years ago, the unionist course was ignored against the other two options: integration into the European Union and integration into the Eurasian Union. The PUN is against the mixed-member electoral system because the unionists are not situated compactly on the country’s territory and the proportional representation system was much more advantageous. “It is important for the future Parliament to include a comfortable group of unionists who would govern within a possible ruling alliance,” noted Ana Gutu. According to her, the results of the 2018 elections for unionists depend a lot on the citizens who will give their vote of confidence to a unionist party or the unionist candidate in a constituency. The PUN is for having a dialogue in the pre-electoral and post-electoral periods on the constitution of future alliances in constituencies.
Historian Octavian Ticu, of the Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, noted it is regrettable that the unionist movement does not fully exploit the historical dimension to support the unionist narrative and platform. The idea of the Union with Romania can be implemented through a number of steps, including steps decided by MPs or political blocs. It is absolutely evident that a coalition of the unionist and pro-European forces would remove the stigma attached to unionists, who are said to be playing Plahotniuc’s game, given that many of the actions by organizations and parties created on this segment are suspected of being taken in collusion with the current government.
The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 24.11.17, „Starting positions of unionist parties before an electoral year, IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/special/87818; „Ana Gutu: PUN is against mixed system because this is against unionists” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/87821; „Igor Botan: Dimensions of unionist segment are expanding” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/87822; on 25.11.17, „Valeriu Saharneanu: Unionist segment should form a bloc with pro-European one” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/87823; „Vasile Costiuc: Unionist parts are pro-European by definition” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/87825; „Vitalia Pavlichenco: Unionist course could in time equal pro-European one” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/87827; „Octavian Ticu: Union with Romania can be implemented through a number of steps” - http://ipn.md/en/integrare-europeana/87826.
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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