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Public Discussion: Administrative and political interference in capital city
on the organization of the debate “Administrative and political interference in capital city”. 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 12 February 2018, Debate 87 brought together Vitalie Mucan, secretary of the Socialist Group in the Chisinau City Council; Ion Cebanu, leader of the Liberal Group in the City Council; Veaceslav Bulat, member of the People’s European Platform Group; and Igor Boțan, executive director of ADEPT, as the Project’s standing expert. Elena Panuș, leader of Our Party Group in the City Council, didn’t show up despite promising to join the debate a little later.
Why this subject and this selection of speakers?
This subject because Chisinau has lately seen a series of developments with both immediate and long-term effects for the residents of the city. This is related in particular to an deep reshuffle in the municipal administration involving the replacement of division heads. Considering the important role of the capital city, these developments affect directly and indirectly the entire Moldovan society. However, it seems that these changes are inadequately communicated to the general public, who as a result has little information about the rationale, the impact, the benefits and the threats of this metamorphosis. Debate 87 aimed to contribute to filling this gap and help the citizens gain insights into these processes.
Interim Mayor Silvia Radu, the initiator of most, if not all reorganization efforts, was also invited to participate in the debate, but regretfully she sent a message through the communication department that she could neither attend the event personally, nor delegate a representative. Instead, we invited representatives from the city council groups, two from each side, that have supported or criticized Silvia Radu’s initiatives. It should be noted that most initiatives can only be implemented with the consent or participation of the municipal legislature, the Chisinau City Council. Ultimately, the responsibility for the success or failure of these initiatives resides with the City Council.
Traditionally the debate started with introductory remarks about the basic definitions and notions to be used in the discussion, including “reform”, “arbitrary intervention” and “abuse of power”, phrases that are largely circulated in the media in connection with the subject at hand.
Standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Botan, executive director of the Association for Participatory Democracy (ADEPT), said the local elections are political-administrative in character. In this case, the administrative and political interference is practically inevitable and this persists in Chisinau municipality. Given that the CMC and the City Hall are electable institutions, the citizens take part in elections and give a four-year mandate to these. Respectively, the Council is a representative body that approves decisions. The mayor, who is also a representative of the community, has executive powers. A rupture is witnessed in the current situation in the municipality of Chisinau and sporadic decisions and actions appear as a result because the acting mayor general does not have an official status in the municipality.
The expert said that on February 12 acting mayor Silvia Radu presented a report in connection with 100 days in office, which somehow matches the efforts made to ensure transparency in the decision-making process, the fight against corruption, etc. “When the message fits a general message in the country, such problems as corruption, lack of transparency, conflicts of interests, we can say that the decisions are not sporadic. However, the current situation in the municipality of Chisinau is absolutely abnormal. The legitimacy of the mandate of Silvia Radu, who was named by a person who wasn’t elected to that post, is doubted. It is also known that the Liberal Party pleads for bringing suspended mayor Dorin Chirtoaca back to post, but the law enforcers identified no violation in the process of naming Silviaq Radu as acting mayor. Besides this abnormal situation, something strange is witnessed in the attitude to the suspended mayor of Chisinau in contrast to another mayor – Ilan Shor. This means that Dorin Chirtoaca is treated in a not exactly correct manner.
Vitalie Mucan, secretary of the Socialist group on the CMC, said that changes started finally to be witnessed at the City Hall after eight years of stagnation. It is not about sporadic actions, but about a set of measures launched two years ago, when other parties entered the CMC. The world develops, while the municipality of Chisinau remains stagnant. Reforms are needed in this regard and these were launched with delay. There are particular risks related to the given changes and therefore the Socialists insisted on staging a roundtable meeting to discuss the situation and take decisions that would have positive effects.
The secretary of the Socialist group noted that correct and immediate decisions are needed to change the state of affairs in the municipality because everyone heard that the situation in the municipality during the last eight years was very good, but things actually stand very badly in Chisinau. Prompt intervention is needed to improve the situation. A set of reformation actions are needed because the Chisinau City Hall remains one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. The Socialists have never raised geopolitical subjects in the CMC and reforms should be further implemented because the system implemented during ten years no longer works.
Chairman of the Liberal group on the CMC Ion Cebanu said the assertions of Vitalie Mucan show who brought Silvia Radu to the City Hall. After Mayor General Dorin Chirtoaca was suspended, the power in the municipality was usurped. Dorin Chirtoaca is the elected mayor, while the deputy mayors are not elected and the appointment of deputy mayors is the prerogative of the elected mayor general.
“There are several persons who serve as deputy mayors and two of them were named by another deputy mayor. The question is: whose assistant is Silvia Radu? She is the assistant of Dorin Chirtoaca because he is the mayor who has a mandate and what is going on now is usurpation of the power in the municipal executive. That’s why all the things that followed can be brought into question,” stated Ion Cebanu, noting that the whole municipality will be affected, while the so-called reforms initiated by Silvia Radu will not have an economic impact as they were initiated to get rid of particular functionaries.
Veaceslav Bulat, councilor of the group of the Electoral Bloc “European People’s Platform – Iurie Leanca” on the CMC, said it is hard to say if reforms or sporadic actions are witnessed at municipal level. The political aspect in the local administration is more evident during the election campaign, but the campaign ends after the elections and the political aspects should disappear. At the same time, the role of those who head any local public administration is to obey the law, namely to promote the interests of the citizens of the community, to organize and provide public services. The political aspects and the international and transfrontier relations are less within the competence of the local public authorities. That’s why these should deal less with politics and more with activities.
According to the councilor, things were stagnant during many years and measures were required, either sporadic or regular, as the organogram and regulations haven’t been modified during ten years. The previous system showed it clearly that the CMC had preeminence over the executive body. A blow was given in 2016 by the law promoted at the insistence of a “ruling party”. Then the Council was dispossessed of the power to name deputy mayors and of powers related to the management of property or finances and these powers were transferred to one person. What is happening now in the municipality of Chisinau is the result of the attack on the functioning of the local public administration system and of the violation of the principle of separation of powers in the local public administration. “The consequences of that unwise Parliament decision will be yet felt,” stated Veaceslav Bulat.
The Agency published 5 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 12.02.18, „Administrative and political interference in capital city, IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/special/89363; „Vitalie Mucan: I’m glad that changes are being made at Chisinau City Hall” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/89367; „Igor Botan: Who assumes risks for so-called reforms in municipality of Chisinau?” - http://ipn.md/en/special/89369; „Veaceslav Bulat: Situation in Chisinau is an effect of attack on functioning of system of local public administration” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/89370; „Ion Cebanu: Power at municipal level is usurped following Dorin Chirtoaca’s arrest” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/89371.
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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