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Public Discussion: Place of Parliament of 20th legislature in society’s life and in history of Moldovan parliamentarianism
on the organization of the debate “Place of Parliament of 20th legislature in society’s life and in history of Moldovan parliamentarianism”. 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 November 28, Debate 98 brought together: Victor Juc, deputy director of the Institute for Legal, Political and Sociological Research; politologist Alexandru Solcan; political pundit Anatol Țãranu, member of independent Moldova’s first parliament; public policy expert Ștefan Gligor; and Igor Boțan, the Project’s standing expert.
Why this subject? Because Moldova’s XX Parliament is about to end its work later this week. With Moldova being a parliamentary republic, a great deal of praise for all our country’s recent accomplishments should go to the legislature. But it’s also Parliament which should equally assume responsibility for any failures. An objective assessment of work done by the outgoing legislature could help us answer questions like these: do we need such a parliament in the future, or do we need to fix it, and if yes, how? And we need answers promptly as elections are behind the corner.
Why this selection of speakers? For the same reasons we have invited respected experts to our past few debates: they are able to discuss the subject in a very insightful manner, both from theoretical and practical viewpoints, thus serving the instructive component of our Project. But also because politicians might not be very objective when assessing their own work of that of their rivals.
The standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said the Republic of Moldova, which is a parliamentary state, developed towards this form of government. When the Constitution was adopted in 1994, there were chosen the semi-parliamentary and semi-presidential forms of government. By the constitutional reform of 2000, the Republic of Moldova became a parliamentary republic. During the mandate of the Parliament of the 20th legislature, several judgements passed by the Constitutional Court strengthened what is called a parliamentary republic in Moldova. ”It is known that political struggles occurred between the then elites. We know how the People’s Front, for example, reacted at the presidential elections announced for December 1991 and know what the reactions of the same People’s Front were to the attempts to transform Moldova into a presidential republic in the first legislature after the declaration of independence. So, particular developments were witnessed and now we have a parliamentary republic,” he stated.
The expert noted that Parliament represent the nation, the people. It is very clear that the whole power emitted by the people is in the hands of Parliament. “All the other things in a parliamentary republic depend on the relationship between the Parliament and the Executive. Surely, the Executive is under the Parliament’s control. If the parliamentary majority decides that the Government doesn’t do its job, there are such instruments as the non-confidence motion against the Cabinet or the simple motion against a minister. These are instruments of controlling the Executive. The President certainly plays the role of a mediator in a parliamentary republic and several Constitutional Court judgments clearly showed that the Republic of Moldova chose the extreme form of parliamentary republic, when the President represents a legal entity and all the conflicts we see cause particular smiles,” he said.
Vice director of the Institute of Legal, Political and Sociological Research Victor Juc stated the activity of the Parliament of the 20th legislature should be analyzed according to a number of coordinates. Lawmaking is the first of these coordinates and this was practically the same as in other legislatures, especially because other legislatures also adopted laws that are yet debated and that were discussed a lot by the public. For example, the Parliament of the 13th legislature, of 1994-1998, adopted a very controversial law to forgive the debts of kolkhozes for the reason that these didn’t have money and could not clear the debts. Also, the Parliament of the 19th legislature adopted the long-debated law on the equality of chances. A more vulnerable point refers to the law on the voluntary declaration of incomes that was adopted by the current Parliament, which also caused considerable debates in society. Another coordinate refers to the beginning of the mandate of the current legislative body, when, before the parliamentary elections of November 30, 2014, an electoral competitor with big chances of entering Parliament was removed from the electrical race. If this hadn’t been removed, the structure, representation and groups in Parliament would have been different.
According to Victor Juc, another aspect is the fact that Parliament started by being unable to form a majority and, implicitly, a government coalition. This way, for the first time in Moldova, a minority coalition was formalized and this was abnormal as a parliamentary minority usually governs towards the end of the mandate, when the future elections are to be prepared. The Parliament of the 20th legislature will remain in history as one that was reset considerably, with some of the groups that initially were small extending a lot in time.
Political analyst Anatol Țãranu, historian, a member of Moldova’s first Parliament, said party switching was the distinctive feature of the current Parliament. What happened to the parliamentary groups in the current legislature was something without a precedent. There were cases of party switching in Parliament earlier too, but not to such an extent as in the current legislature. In 1990-1994, it was suggested that the numbering of legislatures should start with the first Parliament of Moldova, but two parties opposed this initiative and the numbering dating from the supreme soviets of the Soviet period remained thus. “I think such an approach was emblematic for what we call Moldovan democracy, which is profoundly anchored in the Soviet period, and Sovietism hasn’t been yet removed from the political life of the Republic of Moldova even if the transformation seem very serious at first sight,” stated the analyst.
Anatol Țãranu noted the parliamentary republic as a system of government does no derive from the historical-cultural state of Moldovan society, which is profoundly paternalist. For such a society, for such a type of culture, a presidential republic where there is a “father” is more suitable as the people better understand such a system of government. “I think these serious deviations witnessed in the functioning of Parliament derive from here. Regrettably, the Parliament of the 20th legislature confirmed this fact. The act of parliamentary debates is extremely formal. In fact, we do not have a proper parliamentary debate in the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova. The legislative body, in a mechanical way, stamps the laws agreed not as a result of profound parliamentary debates by applying expertise, but rather as a result of agreements reached behind the curtain earlier,” he stated, noting this considerably affects the democratic essence of the lawmaking process.
Politologist Alexandru Solcan said the context in which the current Parliament worked is also important. Elections took place and these were preceded by the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU, which was beneficial and for which Moldova made considerable effort during the previous legislature. This fact determined the electoral score that was shaped by the geopolitical polarization of society. As a result, about 55 seats of MP were won by declared pro-European parties. “It thus seemed that this direction will be extended and will acquire essence alongside statements. But things turned out to be much more difficult as the financial-banking crisis occurred in parallel and this became known immediately after the elections of 2014 and society exploded in Moldova,” he stated.
“From my viewpoint, the very difficult international context is another moment of the context in which the current Parliament worked, either we like it or not. I refer here to the hybrid war as the Republic of Moldova was a party to this hybrid war. Why do I say this? Because governments that didn’t resist much followed. We saw that the crisis caused by the theft of the US$ 1 billion led to the change of opinions in society. The pro-European camp lost ground and didn’t represent a majority as the happenings were associated with the ruling parties that declared themselves pro-European. Surely, the opposition exerted great pressure for organizing early elections. The early elections would have massively brought the pro-Russian parties to Parliament,” stated the politologist. According to him, the current Parliament managed to overcome this difficult situation and the government installed at the start of 2016 managed to stabilize the situation with the Parliament’s support and this thing was recognized by everyone, including by the International Monetary Fund. The Parliament’s role in a parliamentary republic is very big and the stability of the Government depends on it.
Public policy expert Ștefan Gligor said the activity of the Parliament of the 20th legislature should be regarded through the angle of only two articles, namely Article 2, paragraph 1 and 2, of the Constitution, which says that the national sovereignty belongs to the people of the Republic of Moldova, who exert it directly and by their representative bodies, in the forms defined by the Constitution. “For the first time in the history of the Republic of Moldova, the current Parliament betrayed the concept of sovereignty and these people didn’t honor the obligations they assumed before the people in the election campaign. The Parliament’s activity was redirected to a very narrow group of people who set a series of tasks for the volatile parliamentary majority that lacks any credibility, in an ultimatum-like way. There were allegations as to the fact that the current majority was formed by bribing MPs. This fact wasn’t investigated by the prosecution bodies, probably because they are busy with the harassment of the local public authorities, intimidation of civic activists and their chasing,” stated Ștefan Gligor, noting journalists and representatives of the opposition are also intimidated. The expert said Moldova’s Parliament is now not really a Parliament. “The current Parliament would have been an institution if it had respected Moldova’s legislation and done legislative work in the people’s interests.”
“If we analyze by chapters the activity of the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, through the angle of lawmaking, we will see that the obligations assumed before the development partners were more seriously violated with each adopted package of laws, and the security, stability and financial welfare of the oligarchic group that now controls the Republic of Moldova became more powerful,” stated the expert. He noted the second article is Article 339 of the Penal Code that refers to the usurpation of power in the state. “As long as they look for traitors through the activity of the “Open Dialog” Foundation and the “hand of Moscow” among the extraparliamentary opposition, they actually commit an offense. The concept of sovereignty is annihilated as a group of private individuals took over control and this is usurpation of power that has serious consequences as tens of thousands of people left their homes, thousands of children were put on the list of those who are brought up by one parent or without any parent. And there is no other more serious crime against the own people than the humiliation and impoverishing of the people who voted for you four years ago and you do not even bother to answer when you are asked. We have never had a more irresponsible, more volatile and disgraceful Parliament, in terms of its activity, and time has come to underline this,” said Ștefan Gligor.
The Agency published 6 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 28.11.18, „Place of Parliament of 20th legislature in history of Moldovan parliamentarianism. IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95035; on 29.11.18: „Igor Boțan: During its four-year mandate, current Parliament was in a continuous crisis” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95037; „Victor Juc: Parliament of 20th legislature will remain in history as one that was reset considerably” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95038; „Ștefan Gligor: Current legislature was most irresponsible and volatile ever” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95040; „Anatol Țãranu: Current Parliament is of a transition period and future legislative is expected to be similar” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95042; „Alexandru Solcan: Current Parliament managed to overcome difficult situation witnessed in 2014” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95046.
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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