Referendum in Moldova: is it a failure and which are the implications?


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Referendum in Moldova: is it a failure and which are the implications?

  1. 1. Referendum in Moldova:is it a failure and whichare the implications?Leonid Litra, Cornel Ciurea IDIS “Viitorul”The referendum held on September 5, 2010 in Moldova was considered almostaccomplished. The people were invited to express their opinion in favour / againstchanging the Art. 78 of the Constitution that would allow the citizens to elect directlythe president. Despite the optimism that was haunting through the Alliance forEuropean Integration, the Central Electoral Commission announced the results of theturnout – 29,05% out of 33,33% needed to be considered valid.Let’s agree that the referendum is a semi-failure and not a total failure as somealready stated. In order to prove this it important to answer several questions: whywas the participation so low? Who’s to blame? How did the votes were divided? Andwhich are the implications for the upcoming period? out of which 701,486 represent the votes in favour of changing the Art. 78.Dividing the votes – Comparing these numbers to July 29, 2009 early parliamentary elections, thegetting the puzzle difference is not very impressive as the total votes of the 4 parties from the Al-The referendum was not a failure due to liance were 808,598. The advise of thethe fact that traditionally in Moldova the Communist Party was easy to follow asaverage participation rate is in between it requires no action and we cannot at-55 and 60% (see other elections). Even tribute to them the people who didn’tthough the Communist Party, which is participate, even that 30% who are tra-also the biggest opposition party, ad- ditionally voting for them, due to thevised people to boycott the referendum, fact that, in their case, it is difficult tothe Alliance for European Integration measure, while in the case of Alliance wesucceeded to get an important result have concrete a disadvantaged circumstance. It wasalready mentioned that 35%-40% areusually not participating in elections ordo not have access to vote (e. g. Moldo- Who’s to blame?vans that are illegally abroad). Out of the The poor campaign deployed by theremaining 60% almost half of them are parties from the Alliance for Europeanrepresenting the electorate of Commu- Integration is only one of the reasons.nist party and the rest are the voters of More important is to pay attention tothe Alliance. Out of the turnout, 87,5% the character of this campaign. Mostvoted in favour of electing directly the of the parties (especially Liberal-Dem-president and the rest were against. In ocrats and Democrats) promoted thenumbers the 29,05% represent 779,527
  2. 2. 2 Referendum in Moldova: is it a failure and which are the implications?referendum, as it was both: referendum The obstacles that were artificially cre-and presidential elections. It is clear ated by the self-proclaimed authoritiesthat none of the Alliance parties ever of Transnistria were frustrating Moldo-seriously thought that the referendum vans who were willing to take part. Butwill not pass and they were already pre- the most important problem because ofparing for the presidential elections. Transnistria is that most of these peopleAlso, it is noteworthy that there were are registered in the voters’ lists, while3 opinion polls that besides the over- their participation is very low and imag-whelming support for changing the Art. ine they wouldn’t be included in voters78, were indicating a turnout ranging list, and then the referendum was, mostapproximately in between 55% to 70%. probably to be considered as passed.As the exit-poll at Chisinau level was or-ganized, it clearly shows that the most In fact, Communists declared the refer-active were the Liberal-democrats that endum failure as a great victory of de-participated in amount of some 44%, mocracy in Moldova and a proof of rais-the Liberal Party voters that participat- ing political conscience of Moldovaned at approximately 32%, Democrats at population. Despite being criticized bysome 16%, Communists at some 3,5% mass media and political commenta-and Our Moldova Alliance at almost 2%. tors, the ruling parties interpreted theThese figures show that the July 2009 results in an optimistic vein, pretendingelections results are quite different di- that they are not so bad. In their opin-vided within the Alliance, even if some ion, the low turnover rate of approxi-candidates were more motivated to mately 30% reflects the hard core ofadvocate for this referendum, because their electorate, which, in theory, seemsthey had more chances lately to benefit to be bigger than the remaining frac-out of this. The cause for this differenc- tion of unexpressed votes which couldes hinges in the heavy hand of identity be attributed to Communists, minorand conflict politics. parties and people living abroad.The polarization that boosted afterApril 7 events is being observed in the Some eventualreferendum participation. As an ex-ample could serve the Russian highly scenariospopulated Balti, which participatedat 18,9%. A worse example represents As a result of this referendum, the po-the participation in Gagauzia that was litical landscape of Moldova is notnot exceeding 8,61% and the partici- changed dramatically but the politicalpation of Bulgarians from Taraclia that parties are compelled to redraw theiramounted to 12,1%. The low partici- political plans. The ruling alliance an-pation is also explained through the nounced that it will proceed immedi-propaganda that was cleverly used by ately to the parliament dissolution andcommunists, an example of a “victim” organization of the pre-term electionsof propaganda was a young man who which should take place in Novem-said in an interview that he did not par- ber this year. Its position on this issueticipate because he does not want to be matches the point of view expressed byoccupied by Romania. Also, the Transn- the Communist leader Vladimir Voronin,istria issue should not be overlooked. who advocated traditionally in favor of
  3. 3. Referendum in Moldova: is it a failure and which are the implications? 2quick parliament dissolution, being at the opponents. The political leaders ofthe same time not very specific regard- the existent AEI declared their intent toing the period of early elections. Taking pursue further the idea of direct elec-into account the coming winter, which tion of the president but there is no clearcould erode the electoral score of the idea of how this could be implemented.ruling Alliance, it could be concluded In fact, situation in the next parliamentthat the Communist party would prefer could replicate the present situation.spring as the optimal period of the or- In the new parliament, the parties willganization of pre-term elections. try to elect the president with 61 votes. In case they manage to collect them,The biggest problem is the postpone- the parliament is going to continue itsment of the amendment of the article activity. If they fail, the parliamentar-78 regarding the direct or indirect elec- ians will elect an interim President andtion of the president. By letting this could proceed to the change of Con-problem unresolved, the political par- stitution according to the Communistties condemned themselves to a very proposal of electing the President insoon return to this problem in the next Parliament in three rounds. The otherparliament, whose political composi- possibility will be to try again to insisttion doesn’t promise to be very differ- on the direct election of the presidentent. Practically, all the parliamentarian but this initiative will take much longerparties could change the Constitution because of the 6 month provision and itin the present representative body, by is highly problematic due to the recentvoting the constitutional initiative reg- failure of referendum. If the Parliamentistered by the Constitutional Court in changes the Constitution according toMay 2010 about voting the president in the communist’s proposal, the parlia-the parliament in three rounds, the last ment is again dissolved and new earlyone allowing the president to be elect- elections should be organized.ed with 52 votes, i.e. a simple majority.Such a decision will facilitate immense- The threat of never-ending sequence ofly the president election in the future repetitive elections is so high that theand the cancellation of the political political parties are practically obligedstalemate. This possibility is not to be to find a compromise in order to avoidwelcomed by any party which doesn’t the ridicule. They should come to anwant to allow a decisive victory to their agreement and vote the president inopponents in case of its own marginal- the parliament by 61 votes. It meansization. that in the next parliament a possible “malefic contamination” could takeIt seems to be that the main political place between the opposing politicalparties want to reproduce the present camps that could be drawn forcefully instalemate in the next legislative, hop- a complicity determined by the neces-ing in the meantime that something will sity to escape the stalemate.happen which will help them to beat Str. Iacob Hîncu 10/1, Chişinău MD-2005 Republic of Moldova 373 / 22 221844 phone 373 / 22 245714 fax