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About electoral blocs. Op-Ed by Victor Pelin


https://ipn.md/public/index.php/en/about-electoral-blocs-op-ed-by-victor-pelin-7978_1081438.html

“In the case of the PSRM, the constitution of an electoral bloc does not seem a feasible action. It is rather the opposite. The exclusivism shown by the PAS when it a priori presents itself as the winner of the parliamentary elections can play a trick on them. The leaders of the unionist parties should overcome the vainglory and offer the electors the option of voting a united unionist bloc with a well-planned program based on a clearly-defined goal...”
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Reason for constituting electoral blocs

The pre-electoral preparations started together with the signing of the presidential decree on the dissolution of Parliament and the setting of the date of snap elections. Electoral blocs are usually formed in the pre-electoral period. Starting with 2010, the Moldovan politicians have shown decreased interest in electoral blocs. These were more often constituted in 1994-2009. The explanation is simple. Until 2009, the parliamentary elections were held based on the proportional representation system, with the proportional distribution of seats, according to the obtained votes, including those that were to go to the parties that didn’t pass the electoral threshold.

The number of seats of MP that were redistributed proportionally during the eight parliamentary elections held according to the proportional representation system varied from 4 to 28, the average being of approximately 15! This way, in accordance with the seat distribution procedure, the election contenders were actually divided into receivers and donors of seats, with the latter not taking part in distribution. Evidently, the parties were also interested in receiving the lion’s share of the number of seats that were redistributed artificially on account of the donors. In such conditions, the constitution of electoral blocs could bring a surplus of several mandates. For example, in 2001 the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) got a surplus of 21 seas of MP and a constitutional majority of 71 seats owing to the proportional retribution of the 28 seats of donors.  

In 2010, the electoral legislation was amended and the equal, not the proportional distribution of the seats of donors was introduced. Evidently, the egalitarian approach discouraged the parties with chances of passing the electoral threshold from forming electoral blocs. The effects of the mentioned modifications were visible immediately. Three parties that formed part of the Alliance for European Integration (AEI), which ran separately in elections, together took the lion’s share of the redistributed seats to the detriment of the largest party, the PCRM. After the epopee of the amendment of the electoral system in 2017, the proportional representation system, with the proportional redistribution of the seats of donors, was restored in 2019. So, for the snap parliamentary elections set for July 11, 2021, the parties should ponder over the eventual advantages and disadvantages of constituting electoral blocs. 

Advantages and disadvantages of electoral blocs

Despite the aforementioned reasons, experience shows that the advantages and disadvantages of constituting electoral blocs are uncertain. Currently, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) is the first that is interested in forming an electoral bloc – the common front of the parties of the left. The party’s leader Igor Dodon made a call to the parties of the left, urging them to constitute an electoral bloc with the aim of not allowing the pro-European parties to win the snap elections of July 11, 2021. At first sight, the intention of the leader of the PSRM is reasonable. The PSRM has a nonconfoundable identity and earlier scored a series of electoral victories. So, it is recommended for claiming the role of a center of attraction for forming a broad electoral bloc. But it will be hard for it to achieve this goal. The constitution of electoral blocs necessitates special skills, including for making compromises. We don’t know much about the PSRM’s inclination to make reasonable compromises. What we know is not at all encouraging. This way, the last compromises were distressing: with the ACUM Bloc it was unsuccessful, while with the Shor Party it was dishonorable for the PSRM. In such circumstances, we will see if the PSRM, wishing to form an electoral bloc, is ready to cover practically alone the campaign costs and to renounce the own name and symbols in favor of the name and symbols of an eventual electoral bloc. By the way, the symbols of an eventual bloc are yet to be designed and it is not known how attractive they can be for the voters. Also, we don’t know if the eventual partners of the PSRM are ready to make concessions in the negotiations on the distribution of places on the list of candidates. We only know that most of the parties with a small rating do not believe in polls and have exaggerated pretentions when the given lists are compiled. This seems to be an insurmountable problem.

On the other hand, we have the opposite example. The main opponent of the PSRM – the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) – being a very young party, didn’t take part in any of the parliamentary elections independently. In the parliamentary elections of 2019, the PAS competed as part of the electoral bloc ACUM. The victory of the PAS candidate in the recent presidential elections belongs exclusively to Maia Sandu. It’s true that the PAS has relatively good positions in polls. However, it seems that the announced decision to compete in the snap elections on its own is hasty.

In the case of the PSRM and the PAS, we can guess what is better – to form electoral blocs or to take part in the election campaign individual, while in the case of the 5-7 unionist parties, we can say that an electoral bloc should be constituted so as to avoid the eventual position of donors of seats, including for the PSRM. The bloc name “Union” is more suitable for the parliamentary elections than it was for the presidential elections for which it was formed. The big problem of a unionist or Euro-unionist electoral bloc, with the eventual participation of the Party “Dignity and Truth Platform”, resides in the capacity to negotiate and agree clear criteria for constituting this bloc. The aspirations of some of the unionist leaders with pretentions of intellectualists and narcissist syndromes are the key obstacle to forming a unionist bloc.

Conclusions

The constitution of electoral blocs for the future snap parliamentary elections has different stakes for the parties from different segments of the political spectrum in the Republic of Moldova. In the case of the PSRM, the constitution of an electoral bloc does not seem a feasible action. It is rather the opposite.

The exclusivism shown by the PAS when it a priori presents itself as the winner of the parliamentary elections can play a trick on them. The bet on the encouraging results of opinion polls can be a trap. No one can exactly predict how the about 30% of undecided electors will vote. Therefore, the reconstitution of the ACUM Bloc can be an encouraging signal for the voters, particularly the undecided ones.

The leaders of the unionist parties should overcome the vainglory and offer the electors the option of voting a united unionist bloc with a well-planned program based on a clearly-defined goal.