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19 October 2019
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Interviews

Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises

Ion PREAŞCĂ

20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

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Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

Parliamentary election in Romania and its impact on the Republic of Moldova

The electoral conduct of Romanian political parties (the rhetoric, the Governance Program, etc.) suggests not only their vision of internal processes within the country, but also their projections on foreign policies, including their attitude towards the Republic of Moldova.
Denis CENUŞĂ, 21 November 2008, 11:01

 

Any events that take place in the proximity can influence the internal situation in the Republic of Moldova. So, in order to determine the nature of elections in Romania and how they affect Moldova, it is necessary to radiograph the electoral political behavior of the main Romanian political parties (L-DP, SDP, NLP), as well as the extent and area of their impact on the political circles in the neighboring countries. Correct and total reflection of electoral political circumstances will allow us to make a conclusion on the opportunities or, on the contrary, on the challenges generated by these elections for the current and future political climate in the Republic of Moldova.

 

Electoral Campaign in Romania and References to the Republic of Moldova

 

The electoral conduct of Romanian political parties (the rhetoric, the Governance Program, etc.) suggests not only their vision of internal processes within the country, but also their projections on foreign policies, including their attitude towards the Republic of Moldova. Given that recent polls in Romania have shown that the main competitors in possible elections (L-DP and SDP) are likely to get similar percentage of votes, the importance of voters from outside the country in ensuring high functionality of the future Romanian Parliament grows. According to the poll carried out by INSOMAR, L-DP came first by the number of voting options (36.6%), SDP-CP obtained 31.9%, while NLP got 17.5% (www.ziua.net, 9.11.08). As compared to previous polls, the rating of L-DP is decreasing (September - 39.4%, July - 38.5%), just like that of NLP, unlike the swift increase of the popularity of SDP (July - 26.4%, September - 24.7%). An essential role in this redistribution of voting preferences could be related, in the case of NLP, to the last legislative initiatives promoted by L-DP and SDP to increase teachers' salaries by 50% (Tariceanu's Government opposes this increase qualifying it as a bankruptcy from the economic perspective). The regress of L-DP in polls can be caused by the strategy that is focused on "tough attack messages" against SDP and Mircea Geoana and attributed negative characteristics ("SDP is the National School of Corruption", "The biggest lie is that SDP is in opposition", www.impactnews.ro, 29.10.08). In the context of the large-scale international economic crisis that also affects Romania, Romanian voters are inclined to give priority to the "electoral appeals" that refer mainly to social and economic issues, while neglecting political ones (according to the INSOMAR poll carried out within October 30 - November 3, the population considers wages, living standards, job creation, health care, pensions to be imperative objectives). In such a delicate situation, L-DP needs additional stimulatory factors to be able to guarantee a comfortable majority in the legislative forum against SDP-CP and NLP accused of cooperation with Geoana's social democrats after the breakup of the D.A. Alliance (for Truth and Justice). Romanian voters from abroad are also part of those, and namely Romanians who have emigrated to work, as well as Romanian citizens localized in neighboring countries.

The contents of the rhetoric of the L-DP leader, Traian Basescu, with regard to the issue of Romanians who have left for abroad to work in the countries of the European Union demonstrates that such an interest exists. The numerous accusations of L-DP representatives against the current Governance and Parliament (dominated by SDP, NLP and their fellow fighters) on the derisory funds allocated for Romanians everywhere are quite convincing in this sense. The arguments launched by L-DP aim at exteriorizing the frustration of Romanian emigrants and of Romanians everywhere for the fact that SDP and NLP do not promote the cause of Romanian diasporas, thus, collecting political capital (Traian Basescu declared that the funds allocated to the Department for Romanians Everywhere had been reduced from 20 million RON in 2007 to 1.4 - 1.5 million EUR in 2008; www.infopolitic.ro, 6.10.08). In addition to purely declarative gestures, L-DP dedicated a chapter of its Governance Program to the issue of Romanians everywhere, including from the Republic of Moldova. One of the central visions contains the clause on re/acquiring Romanian citizenship and preserving Romanian identity, creating beneficial intra-community business climate in partnership with representatives of Romanian business environment from abroad, and developing social and education projects designed for Romanians everywhere, etc. (the Governance Program of L-DP, www.pd.ro). Special attention in this electoral document is paid to Moldovan-Romanian relations with a focus on extension and consolidation of relations with the Republic of Moldova, including support in rapprochement with the EU, as well as creation of stronger connections between the Moldovan economy and the European market. Certainly, these provisions concern Moldovan citizens who have Romanian passport (but especially those who are on the territory of Romania for various reasons: studying, working, etc.) and could provide considerable "assistance" to L-DP at the elections on November 30.

However, liberal democrats are not the only ones who count on the vote of this segment of voters, having NLP and SDP as rivals. Unlike the latter, the liberals focus more on Romanians everywhere and on relations with the Republic of Moldova. Their logic is based on the fact that their ally in Moldova is the political formation Alianta "Moldova-Noastra" (Our Moldova Alliance) that has a relatively significant credit with the voters (a bilateral cooperation protocol has been signed between these parties), as well as because the position of NLP is precarious according to the poll, which has made it more receptive to these subjects (relations with Moldova, Romanians everywhere). As a result, the liberals make several references to Moldova in their Governance Program. First of all, they call to support Moldova in the process of European integration. As for bilateral relations, they intend to establish partnerships and activities with the countries from the Black Sea region, including the Republic of Moldova. Moreover, according to NLP, one of Romania's priority tasks will be "to improve political, economic and social climate in the Republic of Moldova" for its efficient integration in the European space, both at institutional and value level (NLP Governance Program, www.pnl.ro). In addition to the political component, NLP also intends to establish relations between Romania and Moldova in the economic field based on the fact that Romania is not only a neighboring country with a dynamic economy, but also an EU member. In case of Romanians everywhere, there is a certain degree of reticence, especially as far as L-DP is concerned. As a result, the liberals do not invoke the need to simplify the procedure of granting and reacquiring Romanian citizenship, but first of all call to promote and monitor human rights (with a special reference to the Transnistrian region), as well as to carry out actions of educational, social and other nature, which do not correspond to the requirements of Romanians everywhere and to the challenges they have to face in real terms. In fact, this shy attitude can be considered the main disadvantage of NLP in their electoral confrontation with L-DP for voters among Romanians everywhere (including those from Moldova).

A detailed examination of the Governance Program of the Social Democratic Party of Romania identifies an extremely reserved if not secondary interest for Romanians everywhere and, accordingly, for bilateral relations with Moldova. Supporting the European integration of Moldova is a priority, which is however conditioned to a certain extent by consolidation of democratic reforms and fulfillment of pro-European commitments backed up by an appropriate electoral process and by the results of parliamentary and presidential elections in 2009. As a result, SDP is the only party in Romania that subtly inoculates the idea that the progress of Europeanization for Moldova will depend on the political structure of the future Parliament and the President of Moldova. By this provision, SDP is trying to waive the responsibilities that Romania could find itself with if elections in Moldova result in a complex and controversial "political variable" in terms of European values and principles. As for Romanians everywhere, SDP does not make any promises regarding the possibility to facilitate granting of Romanian citizenship, focusing only on institutional support provided to Romanians everywhere, elimination of restrictions on the labor market for Romanians and protection of the cultural identity for Romanian minorities (SDP-CP Governance Program 2008-2012, 10 commitments for Romania, www.psd.ro). The deficit of attitude and interest both for Moldova and for the requirements of the population of Romanian nationality/ethnic group proves that SDP tends to focus on another social category in the elections, dedicating 9 items out of 10 of the Governance Program to social-economic and political commitments/business.

Given the fact that these three formations will get to the Parliament, the final governmental agenda will depend on their numeric structure and the modality, in which they will interact. Still, one thing is obvious; the lack of a comfortable majority in the Romanian Parliament for L-DP will considerably reduce their capacity to develop policy directions in compliance with the promises they have made, including with regard to Moldova and reacquiring Romanian citizenship by Moldovan citizens, etc. After the breakup of the D.A. Alliance, efficient parliamentary cooperation between L-DP and NLP is improbable, which will provide opportunities for establishment of cooperation relations between SDP and NLP, where the social democrats (who will dominate numerically) are skeptical and even "undeclared" opponents to the simplification of procedures for granting Romanian citizenship.

 

Romanian Elections or the Prelude for Elections in the Republic of Moldova

 

For the first time, according to the new electoral legislation of Romania, members of the Chamber of Deputies and of the Senate will be elected on behalf of Romanian communities from abroad on the basis of uninominal mandate by respecting the geographical principle. Thus, the Eastern Europe and Asia College is addressed directly to the holders of Romanian citizenship from the Republic of Moldova (Ukraine and other countries in the region). L-DP, SDP and NLP have assigned a candidate each for this College (on behalf of liberal democrats - Eugen Tomac, social democrats - Tudor Pantaru, liberals - Nicolae Dabija). Nicolae Dabija has the biggest support among local parties. At least three parties (AMN, NLP and MAE) have expressed their support for the publicist Nicolae Dabija who is objectively outrun by Eugen Tomac (presidential advisor for the relations with Romanians everywhere) and by Tudor Pantaru (an experienced lawyer, currently member of the Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina) with regard to recent experience of working in state institutions in the country and abroad. Due to the fact that Eugen Tomac is the candidate favored by the Liberal Party of Moldova (that has transferred the pro-Romanian message from the PCDP and is in ascension according to local polls), his position is net superior to that of the other opponents (even if Nicolae Dabija is famous among intellectual groups in the Republic of Moldova, Eugen Tomac has chances to leave him behind because he is close to the president Traian Basescu who has authority in Moldova and because he can benefit from the experience of the "Chirtoaca phenomenon"). Despite his incontestable experience, Tudor Pantaru is supported by SDP, which is not only unpopular among Moldovan citizens (due to the reservations expressed within the period of their governance with regard to the issue of reacquiring Romanian citizenship), but also does not have any valuable political support in Moldova (although the LDPM, which is also advancing on the political arena, is the unofficial "advocate" of Pantaru) to be able to oppose the LP and/or the triad AMN-NLP-MAE. In this context, the confrontation could take place between Tomac and Dabija, that is, indirectly between LP and AMN-NLP-MAE (dominated by LP - central partner of L-DP in Moldova).

By means of Moldovan citizens with Romanian citizenship exercising their voting option (at the four polling stations opened by diplomatic and consular representatives of Romania in Moldova) the parliamentary election campaign in Moldova will be launched, at least for the Moldovan parties that have engaged in/directly in supporting candidates for the Romanian Parliament. In this sense, the victory of Dabija or of Tomac will immediately bring political capital to their supporters from Moldova. At the same time, their electoral activity will play a significant role in the preliminary mobilization of pro-Romanian voters in the Republic of Moldova (if the relations between L-DP and LP continue consolidating and Tomac wins on November 30, Moldovan liberals will receive a substantial credit on the part of pro-Romanian voters. Anyway, there is a risk that part of the voters frustrated by the failure of their candidate will stray from the local election campaign, which could diminish the political-electoral value of pro-Romanian forces). In addition, the elections for the Romanian legislative could be used by Moldovan parties as "partial" testing of the electoral potential of Moldovan voters, which will allow them to correct or improve their electoral strategies and tactics to obtain better results in 2009. Moreover, any result obtained in these elections will represent an alternative political reality to the one imposed on the public opinion in Moldova by the Communist Party regarding the communists' victory in 2009 elections, which will encourage more and more categories of voters to participate actively in the upcoming parliamentary elections (especially Moldovan emigrants who have Romanian citizenship, young Moldovans who study in Romania, the pro-Romanian population of Moldova).

 

Limits of Elections in Romania

Renewal of the Romanian Parliament and possible parliamentary alliances could have a limited impact on the Republic of Moldova for various reasons. Firstly, the political mutations in the Romanian political environment are not able to generate transformations in Moldovan politics directly (the influence of Romania is still insignificant as compared to that of Russia and many Romanian top officials give random importance to the situation in the Republic of Moldova). Secondly, the political life in Romania is far from the Moldovan one, both due to its status of an EU and NATO member and because of the insufficient interest of Moldovan population in the political processes that take place in the neighboring country (Moldovan public is rather connected to CIS realities and, first of all, Russian ones, due to pro-Russian and/or Russian-speaking medias). Thirdly, the current Moldovan governance opposes rapprochement of the both banks of the Prut River not just for geo/political reasons dictated by Russia, but also in order to avoid damaging the state policy of promoting the "Moldovenism" (establishment of relations between Bucharest and Chisinau at any level will take place when Moldovan political elites become oriented mainly to the West and undertake common commitments before European and Euro-Atlantic institutions, etc.).

 

In any case, the elections for the Romanian Parliament will have an impact on Moldovan voters (who have Romanian citizenship), because they will establish relations of responsibility between the Romanian voters from the Republic of Moldova and the Romanian Members of Parliament. In this way, the interests, concerns and requirements of Romanian citizens from Moldova will be heard, discussed and/or transformed in legislative initiatives within one of the European forums. Additionally, Moldovan citizens who have Romanian citizenship will get the possibility to access European realities via the Romanian legislative body.         

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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