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Public Discussion: Political culture of Moldovan society: current state and trendies

Press Release
on the organization of the debate
Political culture of Moldovan society: current state and trendies”. 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 21 December 2018, Debate 100 brought together: popular author Vladimir Beșleagã; public policy expert Igor Munteanu, member of the ACUM electoral bloc; and Igor Boțan, the Project’s standing expert.

Why this subject? Because we are in an electoral period that will culmitate with the election of a new Parliament in late February. The outcome of these elections, like of any other election, depends largely on the political culture of our society. All that electoral competitors basically strive to do, it could be argued, is influence society’s political culture in their favor. So in order to see what outcomes we should expect, we should “take the temperature” of this political culture and see how it could be altered in the run-up to the February elections.

Why this selection of speakers? It seemed reasonable to have representatives of the parties that have the greatest capacities to influence the Moldovans’ political views, and these are, according to most recent polls, the Socialists, the Democrats, and the ACUM electoral alliance of the parties DA and PAS. Regretfully, the former two declined the invitation, but we are grateful to the writer Vladimir Beșleagã, a connoisseur of Moldovans political attitudes, for standing in as an expert.

The standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said the political culture is actually a collective mental construct and an expression of the historical and sociopolitical experience. Three are three types of politics culture. The first type is the parochial political culture that is based on tradition as it is believed that traditions are from God and are not created by the people. That’s why the parochial political culture persists in villages. The second type is the political culture of those who obey an administration and this is typical for particular societies, such as the Republic of Moldova, which went through a Communist, Socialist phase, when there was the “beloved leader” and the people thanked him for all the accomplishments. The third type is the participatory political culture that is typical of the urban areas and is based on good laws. These laws are made by the people and can be improved for the benefit of society through the people’s participation.

According to the expert, things concerning the political culture in Moldova cannot be generalized. In the conditions in which Moldova is about 57% a rural country, we can say with approximation that the state is dominated by parochial political culture. Everything is based on tradition. The village rural priest and the mayor are the reference figures and the traditions are established in time and by God. Respectively, if the government is bad, the parochial political culture says: “The government is bad and this is the punishment of God for our sins”. The people do not express dissatisfaction, but pray to God to change his attitude to them. In the Republic of Moldova, the political culture of the submissive people also persists. There are also manifestations of participatory political culture, even if these are week yet: “The opinion polls show a particular segment of society, about 20%, are ready to become actively  engaged so as to change things in the country”.

Igor Boțan said the political parties have experts who know very well how things stand in this regard and profit from the situation. For example, the Party of Socialists maximally explores the relationship with the church, tradition, family, etc. And this is tribute paid to the parochial political culture. The political culture of the submissive people is manifested by the declaring of the leader of the Democratic Party as the coordinator of the government in the Republic of Moldova, who, even if he does not have an official post, assumed this role: “All the initiatives come from the leader of the PDM and this is tribute paid to this kind of political culture.” The Shor Party is also a branch of the political culture of submissive people. This party opens kolkhozes and the experts who work for this party explore this type of culture. The third, participatory type of political culture manifests through the protest resistance movement that wants to change the laws as they are made by people and do not have the sacred element, as the traditions do. “We cannot speak in the Republic of Moldova about a particular type of political culture that is dominant. We have this amalgam and should admit that the politicians are very capable in exploiting the mental construct of our citizens,” stated the expert.

“If the Romanian people consider they are the successors of the Romans, why do they forget that they appeared as a result of the occupation by the Romans? Why is this forgotten? There are persons who say: you obeyed the occupants, but didn’t obey the small ones who were occupied. This is the enigma of our nation. The second enigma is why Stephan the Great conceded Moldova to the Turks when he saw that he can no longer defend it. Why did Cantemir come and concede it to the Russians? Why?” asked writer Vladimir Beșleagã. “This state does not unite and does not grow mature as it oscillates and joins one side or another one”.

Vladimir Beșleagã, who was a member of the first Parliament, said one third of MPs were unionists then and promoted  the unionist direction, but the Nistru war mixed things up. “I said that this part of the Romanian territory cannot exist if only as a Russian gubernia or a Romanian one and there is no other alternative. But years passed, decades passed and the state exists as a particular force is interested in its existence. We speak about Transnistria as about a black hole, but is a small black hole, while Moldova is a big black hole through which international schemes are implemented. That stolen US$ 1 billon was only the smoke. US$ 20-25 billion that came from Russia was laundered through our state. How can a state become involved in such affairs if it is not a black hole?” asked the writer.

According to him, an essay written by Mihai Eminescu contains very interesting ideas on the issue. One of them says the state is a natural phenomenon that appears in a natural way, while the Republic of Moldova is an artificial state built by others, not by the people themselves. “Everything comes from outside. The Soviet Empire needed to create an autonomous republic and then to create based on this a uninominal republic that ultimately became an independent state,” noted Vladimir Beșleagã.

Public policy expert Igor Munteanu, of the bloc ACUM that is believed to have chances of entering Parliament, spoke about the political culture that represents us at national collective level and at the level of groups of active people, those who usually take part in the political process, who put questions and who formulate requests. This is not related only to the cultural particularities of Moldova, as the natural or artificial construction. Things become more difficult here because, as long as the citizens pay taxes, this state, artificial or natural body works. When the citizens say this body does not deserve their money, this will stop existing. A Polish researcher said the whole theory of the political transition starts from the preconditions that what a group of people decides in a closed totalitarian system should become a set of rules. An open society is formed based on a consensus on the main rules based on which a society is governed. The difference between an open and a closed society resides in this.

The expert said the transition of a society starts from the adoption of a Constitution and continues with the laws that are formulated in the interest of society and for the people’s benefit. Moldova’s problem is that this transition follows an imprecise direction. The exact direction, of creating a set of rules in a divided society, turned out to be a very difficult task. These divisions in society are normal, such as linguistic divisions, polarization by incomes, divisions of the historical merit, etc. But these internal fragmentations make the transition in practice be more difficult than in theory. The responsibility is borne by the political elites as they should set the clear goals of the transition. The people should be yet realistic – the bodies never converge with political culture . “We build a state, but the people often abide by rules that worked in the previous state, under the previous regime. We make new legislation that is Euro-compliant, as Marian Lupu said. On the other hand, the people continue to expect individual benefits through the system of rent. Rent means taking of money from the public budget without bearing responsibility. There is a system of impunity and even if the law is broken, one is sure that the party of which they form part will protect them from any administrative or criminal punishment,” noted the expert.

According to him, big difficulties appear because some of the parties often are closed groups that express the interests of groups that form part of the nomenclature of these political organizations. And this is a big problem of democratic representation. “Not the economic indicators show the development level of a society, but the way in which the citizen understand to comply with rules that are in the public interest. Respectively, the most vulnerable subsystem of society is related to the lack of education, lack of applicability of laws in the life of citizens, inertia and the citizens‘ attitude to comply or not with the new political realities. The question is – which is the level of responsibility of the political parties for bringing the people closer to the law and creating a census on the general rules of conduct in society in this very unclear transition and to what extent this system is not beneficial to individuals, but is beneficial to the national interest?” asked Igor Munteanu.

Representatives of the Democratic Party and the Party of Socialists were also invited to the debate, but the invitation was rejected.

The Agency published 4 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 21.12.18, „Political culture of Moldovan society: current state and tendencies. IPN debate” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95513; on 22.12.18, „Igor Munteanu: Some politicians try to maximally exploit vices of nation” - http://ipn.md/en/politica/95522; „Igor Boþan: Political culture is an expression of historical experience” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95524; „Vladimir Beșleagã: Moldova is an artificial state built by others, not by people” - http://ipn.md/en/special/95525.

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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