The electoral “kolkhoz”

The electoral charisma of the party leaders is not the only criterion for evaluating the quality of a political party.
Petru Culeac, 24 June 2009, 7:15

Besides this there are many other criteria such as: party leaders' and party members' professionalism, prior activities and achievements, loyalty towards the the declared principles, results obtained in previous parliamentary or local elections, the quality of the electoral programs, number of followers, implemented projects, participation to the governance process, etc.

Above all the quality of a political party is proven by its performance during an electoral campaign and the efficiency of the political parties is reflected in the results they obtain after the cast votes have been counted.

All these criteria serve to evaluate not only the quality of a political party but also its capacity to obtain enough votes from the voters in order to represent them in the parliament. These votes reflect voters' and constitute an indicator of the viability of the political parties.

 The voters have to realize that out of all the non-communist political parties currently existing in Republic of Moldova for the moment only three have confirmed their status of viable political parties worthy of voters trust – Liberal Party (PL), Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) and “Our Moldova” Alliance (AMN). These parties have passed through several tests that confirmed their capacity to continue the electoral battle as well as the moral right to receive the people's votes.

First of all, PL, PLDM and AMN are three non-communist parties that have passed over the electoral threshold with a relatively good result given the tough conditions of total communist domination of local mass-media and possible electoral frauds, which demonstrates the demand for these parties among the electorate.

 Second, PL, PLDM and AMN are the parties that have passed the “baptism of fire” organized by the governing party on April 7 and in the following days. These parties managed to survive and establish a relative solidarity among themselves, which still holds, even if this solidarity sprung up rather as a symbiosis imposed by the circumstances.

 Last but not least, PL, PLDM and AMN are the parties that resisted in front of the pressures and did not vote for the communist candidature for the post of president of the state. This way these parties have demonstrated that their existence is based upon certain principles that are not easily discarded for the sake of some immediate benefits. This accomplishment has confirmed the capacity of these three parties to make politics beyond the customary games of circumstantial compromises.

 These three tests through which PL, PLDM and AMN had to go through, gave them an additional amount of authority and legitimacy. What do other political parties rely on when they declare their intention to participate in the next parliamentary elections planned for July 29th?

 Besides the Party of Communists of Republic of Moldova (PCRM) the other parties seem to continue to be in some virtual spaces isolated from the rest of the public space, spaces inhabited only by the leaders of these parties and their most loyal members. In addition it seems that these crepuscular political zones are also isolated one from another, which only maintains the formal existence of these political parties but doesn't contribute to the moderation of their utopic ambitions .

 There are various projects that appear periodically on the extra-parliamentary segment, and are meant to reanimate or restart some of the extra-parliamentary parties. Some time ago, the Social Democratic Party had such an experience with the arrival of Eduard Musuc, and then with the arrival of Dumitru Braghis; as well as the Centrist Union with the arrival of Vasile Tarlev.

 History repeats itself, only this time it is the Democratic Party (PD) that passing through this process. Again the idea of restarting the party has not appeared within the large masses of the party supporters, due to the fact that those masses simply do not exist, fact which was confirmed also by the results this party obtained during the last parliamentary elections.

In order to compensate this disadvantage, the restart of PD takes place according to the formula that was already applied previously in the case of other projects – the creation of an electoral “kolkhoz”, consisting of two steps: the transplant of a new leader and a team make-up through the adherence of various well-known people respected in the society with the main purpose of legitimizing and giving content to the new political product.

 These operations performed on the Democratic Party are not necessarily bad and could in fact result in an attractive product for the center-left electorate with the condition that the reanimation of the party is done on different grounds and not one and a half months before the anticipated elections. If the reanimation of a party is done as in the case of PD, on the grounds of a politician's sudden pre-electoral metamorphosis caused by a belated epiphany, such a party doesn't have the moral right to pretend to obtain the voters' trust, because this right as well as the trust of the voters is won in time by confirming the existence of certain principles and a consistency of actions.

 Still we have to admit the fact that these observations have yet to be brought to the attention of the simple voters so that they understand the difference between parties that have a proven record, and those parties that have been set-up or reanimated in the rush preceding new elections. Failure to do so will mean that the voters risk to be again fooled by the new rhetorics of an old party, which in an end will result in a repeated loss of the people's votes.

 Petru Culeac is a research fellow at Vienna School of Governance, Austria