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Moldova - Referendum

The referendum on the reform of the Constitution is invalidated in Moldova due to inadequate turnout

The referendum on the reform of the Constitution is invalidated in Moldova due to inadequate turnout

06/09/2010 - Results

The referendum organised in Moldova on 5th September was invalidated because turnout was too low. Indeed only 29.05% of the electorate went to ballot, which is below the minimum required by the electoral law (one third of those registered) to validate the popular consultation. Moldovans were called to answer the following question: "Do you agree for the Constitution to be modified to enable the election of the President of the Republic by direct universal suffrage?"
The votes of the electorate in Transnistria and those living in Europe, which still have not been counted, will not be sufficient to change the final turnout figures.
This is therefore a severe setback for the Alliance for European Integration coalition which rallies the Liberal Party (PL) led by Mihai Ghimpu, the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) led by Vladimir Filat, the Democratic Party led by Marian Lupu and the Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) led by Serafim Urechean in office since the last general elections on 29th July 2009. After the invalidation of the referendum Moldova, a country in great need of reform, finds itself in stalemate and a political crisis ongoing since the spring of 2009.

The constitutional reform put to the electorate comprised the modification of article 78 of the Constitution (election of the Head of State by Parliament) and was due to enable the election of the President of the Republic by direct universal suffrage. It was an attempt to bring the country out of political deadlock.
Indeed under the terms of the present Constitution in force since 2000 the Moldovan Head of State is elected by secret ballot by 3/5 of the MPs in Parliament i.e. 61 of the 101 representatives. If this process fails then the President of the Republic has to dissolve Parliament and convene early general elections. The parties in the Alliance for European Integration, in office for the past year, do not have an adequate majority in Parliament to have their candidate elected as Head of State. Moldova therefore has had no President since last year (the last general election were already early and took place to settle a similar problem, since the Communist Party (PRCM), in office before 29th July 2009, did not succeed in rallying the vital 3/5 majority in Parliament.

The Communist Party which had called for the boycott of the popular consultation therefore won its wager amongst the Moldovans who are however tired of this political paralysis. Former President of the Republic (2001-2009) Vladimir Voronine (PRCM) qualified the referendum as "anti-democratic" saying that it was a "trap"; he accused the Alliance for European Integration of "continuing the usurpation of power that it started on 7th April 2009."
By this he is referring to the date when violent demonstrations occurred after the general elections on 5th April 2009 with the opposition parties accusing the Communist Party of cheating and falsifying the election results. On 7th April around 10,000 demonstrators rampaged through the Parliament buildings and the residence of the President of the Republic above which they raised the Romanian and European flags.

Several other leftwing parties which are not represented in Parliament also boycotted the election on 5th September.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe whose 15 strong mission led by Andreas Gross was responsible for observing the election declared before the vote via its chair Mevlüt Cavusoglu that she hoped that the referendum would be the "start of the country's political stabilisation."

The present leader of Parliament and Head of State by interim Mihai Ghimpu declared on 2nd September that the presidential and general elections would be organised on 14th November next in Moldova if the "yes" vote won and if of course the referendum was valid. He also said that if the referendum failed he would be forced to dissolve Parliament and convene early general elections. "This result was quite unforeseeable for the democratic parties. It is not a tragedy. We have to act according to the law and convene an early general election," said Vladimir Filat after learning of the low turnout. The Prime Minister explains the failure of the referendum because of the boycott of the communist voters and also because of "differences that exist within the Liberal-Democratic coalition." "This campaign lacked unity," declared Mihai Ghimpu. "No one explained the importance of this referendum. Some politicians, confident of the result, had already started to campaign in view of the presidential and general elections," regrets Marian Lupu.
The Moldovans will be called to ballot again soon for early general elections.
Publishing Director: Pascale JOANNIN
The authors
Corinne Deloy
Author of the European Elections Monitor (EEM) for the Robert Schuman Foundation and project manager at the Institute for Political Studies (Sciences Po).
Fondation Robert Schuman
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