Moldova. The presidential elections won’t take place
BSSB.BE jurnal.md/ 05.08.2016
The MP in the first Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, Alexandru Arseni, claims that the president won’t be elected by the citizens but by the Parliament. The statement was made today during the show Alb&Negru on UNIMEDIA.
“Considering the latest information that I have heard and I believe, the president won’t be elected by the people but by the Parliament. This decision taken by the Constitutional Court is not legitimate. The Constitutional Court can’t change the Constitution. In 2000 had to be taken all the measures. Either we respect the Constitution, or it is a worthless paper. Why have the parties make all these changes? In order to have the majority for elections”, said Alexandru Arseni.
Moreover, the guest said that Iurie Leanca could be the candidate to this position if the Parliament elects the president.
“Leanca will be the presidential candidate. He will be Democratic Party’s president, not people or society’s”, concluded the guest.
- Let us remind You that Moldova’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the president should be elected by popular vote, reversing a 16-year-old constitutional amendment that gave lawmakers the power to choose the head of state.
- The decision was the latest chapter in the continuing political turmoil that erupted in 2009 when President Vladimir Voronin’s second constitutional term expired.
- The court made the decision in response to a complaint filed by opposition lawmakers, who argued that the amendment had violated the constitution.
Court President Alexandru Tanase said March 4 that the decision would help avoid a new crisis in the country, which has seen months of anticorruption protests prompted by the disappearance of more than $1 billion from three banks in 2014.
Under the decision, incumbent President Nicolae Timofti, who was elected in 2012 and completes his term later this month, will stay on afterwards as acting president until parliament sets a date for direct presidential elections.
Lawmakers will have up to two months to do that.
Protesters have been demanding early elections, a move that would favor pro-Moscow opposition parties.
Under the current system, a candidate needs 61-vote majority in Moldova’s 101-seat parliament.
A game changing Constitutional Court decision, announced on a Friday afternoon (March 4) before a four-day holiday weekend, took much of the Moldovan political establishment, expert community and the broader public by surprise. Voters will now be able to elect the country’s president directly.
The ruling turned back the clock to the year 2000, canceling amendments to the Constitution approved over a decade and a half ago that empowered the national legislature to elect the head of state. The Court cited procedural violations during the Constitutional reform of 2000 as grounds for its decision (Constcourt.md, March 4). Namely, at that time, the parliament adopted a modified version of the amendments that had been approved by the Constitutional Court.
Hence, the Court’s authority to sign off on draft Constitutional amendments was partially infringed upon. This time around, it was the Court that completely sidelined the parliament by, effectively, reintroducing direct presidential elections with no input from the legislature whatsoever.
Even though the decision is highly popular—89 percent of Moldovans support direct presidential elections (Iri.org, September 29–October 21, 2015; Realitatea, November 10, 2015)—the ruling is controversial as it further undermines the legitimacy of the Constitutional Court in light of extreme judicial activism during the past several years. Furthermore, the political implications of this decision go far beyond what anybody can reasonably predict—likely to result in both planned and unintended consequences.
Commenting on the latest ruling, a former chairman of the Constitutional Court, Victor Pușcaș, expressed disbelief, while constitutional expert Alexandru Arsene called it an outright abuse of power (Europalibera.org, March 4).
Whereas, another former Constitutional Court judge and leading scholar Nicolae Osmochescu welcomed the decision, but he struggled to answer what kind of system Moldova has now, saying that the public should care less about the purely academic discussions regarding parliamentary versus presidential systems (Europalibera.org, March 4).
Court Chairman Alexandru Tanase, on the other hand, explained on a primetime political talk show that the country remains a parliamentary republic despite direct presidential elections, since the president does not gain any new powers (Agora.md, March 4). Romanian political analyst Sorin Ioniță’s reaction probably best encapsulates the event: “the Constitutional Court has taken a mind-boggling decision of such magnitude and creativity that it is unprecedented in Europe” (Independent.md, March 4).
Even so, most leading politicians cautiously welcomed the momentous decision. Many jumped at the opportunity to claim it as their own victory. Liberal-Democrats, who had originally submitted the case for constitutional review, heralded the ruling as a fulfillment of their campaign promise (Agora.md, March 4).
Lib-Dems may also benefit by having their party leader, former prime minister Vlad Filat, released from pre-trial detention if he decides to run for president, which will give him immunity for the time of the campaign, provided that he is not convicted before then. Socialists are probably the biggest winners, as their leader, Igor Dodon, is the default frontrunner in the looming presidential race;
Our Party leader Renato Usatii, the actual frontrunner according to polling data, is ineligible on account of being under the age of 40. To add insult to injury, Usatii and his party stand to lose the most since if early parliamentary elections were called—which is now no longer in the cards—Our Party would have likely won a plurality of seats in the next parliament. Curiously, Dodon initially welcomed the ruling as a vindication of protesters’ demands (Deschide.md, March 4).
However, the next day, his fellow colleague, Socialist parliamentarian Bogdan Tirdea, questioned the Constitutional Court’s decision, calling it an anti-constitutional coup. Tirdea wondered what would now stop the Court from striking down other articles from the Constitution, such as that on the country’s military neutrality (Noi.md, March 5).
- if Moldova’s recent political history is any indication, Speaker Candu’s hopes for an election of a “visionary president” may be futile . Also, his attempts at downplaying concerns over state capture are disingenuous. If anything, a thorough analysis of developments in Moldova stimulates more not fewer questions of that nature.
- To make things even more controversial, the Court had already once reviewed the violations cited in this ruling back in 2001 and upheld the reform.
- Moreover, amid the constitutional crisis that caused two early parliamentary elections and kept Moldova without a president for almost three years between 2009 and 2012, an assistant judge and currently a candidate for the Court, Veaceslav Zaporojan, floated the idea of reversing the Constitutional reform of 2000, but was ignored (E-democracy.md, May 5, 2011). According to former deputy Justice Minister Sergiu Gurduza, even the current Chairman of the Constitutional Court, then Minister of Justice, Alexandru Tanase, considered the idea outlandish and laughed it off (Facebook, March 4, 2016).
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