19/06/2009 - Analysis
Since the Moldovan Parliament failed to elect the President of the Republic before 4th June outgoing Head of State Vladimir Voronin (Communist Party PRCM) dissolved Parliament on 15th June and convened early general elections on 29th July next. During the 1st and 2nd rounds of the election on 20th May and 3rd June Communist Party candidate, Prime Minister Zinaïda Greceanii needed one more vote to be elected to the supreme office. She won 60 votes whilst the Constitution stipulates that the head of State has to win at least 3/5th of the votes ie 61. The Constitution also obliges the members of parliament to elect the President of the Republic within the three months following the dissolution of parliament.
The Moldovans are therefore being called to ballot again to elect Parliament on 29th July. This date is believed dangerous in the eyes of many political observers: indeed turnout, that has to be over 50% for the general election to be declared valid, may very well be low because it is the summer (57.54% of Moldovans took part in the last general elections). The choice of a Wednesday, ie a week day is an all time first. The previous elections took place on 5th April and saw the victory of the PRCM with 49.48% of the vote and 60 of the 101 seats in Parliament. The Liberal Party (PL) of Mihai Ghimpu came second with 13.13% of the vote (15 MPs), followed by the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) led by Vladir Filat 12.43% (15 seats) and the Alliance, Our Moldova (AMN) of Serafim Urechean, 9.77% (11 seats). The three opposition parties therefore have a minority "blocking" vote of 41 votes.
Violent demonstrations occurred just after the general elections on 5th April, since the opposition parties accused the PRCM of having cheated and tampered with the election results. Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the EU and from the Community of Independent States (CIS) did however acknowledge the legitimate nature of the election. On 7th April around 10,000 demonstrators ransacked the Parliament buildings and the residence of the President of the Republic over which they raised the Romanian flag and that of the European Union. Two people were killed during these events and several others were injured; demonstrators were violently put down by the police who arrested 200 people.
In May Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout, whose country is ensuring the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, invited the Moldovan authorities to start dialogue with the opposition in view of finding a "viable solution" to the political crisis.
Head of State Vladimir Voronin in office since 2001 cannot run for a third term in office. On 12th May he was elected president of Parliament. The PRCM orchestrated matters like a game of musical chairs. Vladimir Voronin, who was now president of Parliament, Prime Minister Zinaïda Greceanii was to replace him as head of State and former President of Parliament Marian Lupu was to succeed Mrs Greceanii as Prime Minister.
Parliament proceeded to the first round of the presidential election on 20th May. Prime Minister Zinaïda Greceanii was running against Stanislav Groppa, a PRCM MP, director of the Neurological Clinic in Chisinau, since it is compulsory to have two candidates running for the election to be valid. In the second round on 3rd June (initially planned for 28th May, the election was delayed because of a religious holiday – the Moldovans celebrate Ascension date on 28th May), the Prime Miniser faced Andrei Neguta, Moldova's ambassador in Russia. In the two rounds, Zinaïda Greceanii only won 60 votes ie one vote less that the majority required by the Constitution. These two failures led President Voronin to dissolve Parliament and convene early elections. Before proceeding to dissolution he asked Zinaïda Greceanii to form a new government. This was approved by 59 MPs.
The three opposition parties in Parliament – the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Our Moldova Alliance – chose to boycott the presidential election. "We have no moral right to agree with the Communists. We shall not betray the interests of our voters and we are determined to win the early elections to put an end to the anti-democratic government set up by the Communists. We recommend the Communists and Vladimir Voronin to show their political courage, to accept the situation and admit that only early, free, fair elections will settle the political, economic and moral crisis in Moldova," declared Vladir Filat leader of the Democratic Party. "Dialogue is impossible with these authorities," added Our Moldova Alliance leader Serafim Urechean who said together with Mihai Ghimpu, the Liberal Party leader, "We shall never vote for a Communist candidate as President of the Republic." "I guarantee that the Communists will understand for the very first time that people are not for sale, they will understand that times have changed, that the opposition has changed," said Serafim Urechean just before the second round.
"The opposition has rejected the hand extended by the authorities by refusing to vote in the presidential election. These people who claim to be in the opposition are aiming for neither an electoral victory nor that of their principles and their ideas, they are aiming to create chaos and to destabilize Moldova," stressed Vladimir Voronin after dissolving Parliament, adding "their principle is the following: the worse the situation is in Moldova, the better they feel."
The PRCM in power is running as the favourite for the 29th July election recording a sharp rise in popularity since the demonstrations. But on 10th June it had to face a final turn in events: the departure of Marian Lupu, former Economy Minister and President of Parliament, who until a few days ago had been pinpointed to become the next Prime Minister.
The three opposition parties represented in Parliament are calling on the "small" parties (those which did not manage to win seats in the general election) to give up taking part in the elections on 29th July in order to attract their electorate and to win the ballot.
The electoral threshold to enter Parliament previously established at 4% of the vote cast then raised to 6% in December 2007 was then reduced to 5%.
The electoral campaign will be two weeks shorter than the previous ones and will not last more than 45 days.