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For and against early elections. Info-Prim Neo analysis

16.05.2009   Info Prim-Neo  969 
Gradul ştiinţific: President of Border of Directors, Dr. in Law, MA in Political Sciences

The day of May 20, when the new head of state is to be elected, can become crucial for Moldova. The society is expecting a denouement: the future president will be elected from among the members of the Communist Party or there will be held early elections if the PCRM does not obtain the 61st vote it needs to elect the head of state. Which of the two scenarios would be better for Moldova and the people? What will be the consequences of early elections if a third scenario -“ conciliation on the basis of dialogue -“ seems the least probable at the moment?

The election of the president turned into a riddle

The Public Opinion Barometer commissioned by the Public Policy Institute (IPP) shows that the largest part of the population (75-80%) wants to choose the president directly. The same survey shows that the people would like the former Speaker Marian Lupu and the representative of the PCRM to become head of state. The people consider Lupu has the greatest chances of becoming president.

Neither the Communist Party nor the Opposition campaigned to promote the image of the future president or future candidate, said Viorel Cibotaru, program director at the IPP and director of the European Institute for Political Studies in Moldova. Therefore, the political analyst says, the election of the head of state turned into a riddle, which is detrimental to the democratic principles.

- One thing is for sure: the future president must be a person that could guarantee the balance and separation of powers in the state and would ensure a civilized political dialog," Cibotaru said.

According to him, the head of state could be elected under three scenarios: very bad, bad and good. Under the first two scenarios, there will be elected a president that is not wanted by the parliamentary Opposition and that will not act like a bond in the political class, but will be like a figure of speech for the newspaper publicists. Under the last scenario, all the political forces will come to an agreement and will choose a person that is trusted enough by the party that will assume the administration and the Opposition.

Early polls: a new chance or a new failure?

Some analysts consider that the early elections are the only chance for the population to put their trust in public institutions. Others say that the early polls would be a new failure of the political class of Moldova.

According to analyst Igor Munteanu, executive director of the Institute for Development and Social Initiative (IDIS) - Viitorul", the legitimacy of the Parliament can be instated only by a new round of elections. - The feeling of illegitimacy is not something material. It is a product formed from the very great expectations of the population and the suspicion that it was manipulated in elections. The lack of trust in the public institutions is an investment in tyranny and dictatorship," the analyst said.

On the other hand, Viorel Cibotaru says that the early elections will disadvantage everyone, regardless of their outcome. - They do not solve the essence of the problem. All the problems highlighted by the Opposition can be fixed within the existent legislature, while the ruling party, whose victory in elections is challenged by some actors, can overcome the situation not by denying the accusations leveled at it, but by initiating immediately the reforms promised during the election campaign," Cibotaru said. According to him, the possible irregularities in the election campaign could repeat and a part of the society will change its attitude towards the Communist Party.

The cost of early elections

Igor Munteanu considers that very many populist leaders have no feelings of shame and responsibility and try to manipulate the public opinion and convince them that the elections cost a lot of money. They forget to say that the rigged elections cost tenfold more. - The institutional costs, including for the election campaign, were 40 million lei. At the same time, the damage caused by the illegitimacy of the Parliament and the reconstruction of the destroyed buildings are estimated at more than 600 million lei. The sum needed for reconstruction is ten times larger than the estimated costs of new elections," Igor Munteanu said.

- The parties claim that 10% of the votes that they managed to check were rigged. The Constitutional Court did not have procedural time to determine if illegalities were committed or not. At the same time, there was made no graphological verification. If the votes were rigged, this means that the state agencies that drew up the electoral rolls acted against the existing political system and the damage caused by such actions are much larger than all the damage caused by the protesters on April 7," the executive director of IDIS - Viitorul" explained.

The risks of early elections when there is a crisis

- When there is a financial crisis, we should ask ourselves who can benefit from fixed elections and the lack of reaction on the part of the jurisdictional bodies when they are asked by election contenders to professionally examine the irregularities identified by them. There are many international organizations, including the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which could make the graphological analysis of the lists of voters in a week, if the authorities were disposed to accept other opinions as well. As they chose the way of confrontation and the Constitutional Court tried to not assume responsibility for vote rigging, things now stand as they stand," Munteanu said.

If early elections are held, the Government will have to cope with a difficult period of crisis. - It would be a temporary Government that would not be able to make important decisions without the Parliaments support, including the redistribution of the budget. When there is a crisis, the first wise thing to do is to drastically reduce the public budget. If the ruling party reduced the already small salaries, it would commit suicide as it promised to raise them 500 euros. It wouldnt be a Government of national consensus. In crisis situations, only a coalition government that enjoys the peoples support can find suitable solutions," Igor Munteanu said.

However, the analyst considers that this is not an argument against early elections. - Even with a limited mandate, a well-managed Government that focuses on the real problems can handle well. When Voronin ruled the country and had great influence on the executive, the Government was limited in its acts and was in fact a two-headed Government, where the most important decisions were taken by the head of state," Munteanu explained.

On the other hand, Viorel Cibotaru says that the early elections could have serious economic and social consequences. - The Oppositions determinedness not to take part in the election of the head of state so as to cause early elections can be understood, but also criticized. The parties must take decisions that would favor the Moldovan people that are confronted by the economic crisis. If the Opposition does not win the early elections, there will be perpetuated out-of-date models of government. It if is victories in elections, it will have to undertake serious administrative reforms and this could have grave economic and social repercussions," Cibotaru said.

Moment of truth

The election of the head of state will take place on May 20. The president is elected by the vote of 61 out of the 101 MPs that form the Parliament. The former Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii and neurosurgeon Stanislav Gropp are the candidates for president, both fielded by the Communist Party.

The Opposition has repeatedly announced it will not put up candidates and will not participate in the election of the head of state. The parliamentary group of the PCRM is composed of 60 MPs and needs one more vote to elect the president.  

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