Nine presidential elections have been held in the Republic of Moldova since 2000, all held in parliament, under the Moldovan Constitution, and only two of them – in 2001 and 2005 – actually produced a president. Such an unusual situation was possible because the Moldovan Parliament was controlled by the communists who reached the constitutional majority of 61 out of 101 votes to obtain a positive result. At all seven attempts, the communist opposition blocked the election of the president, producing, by repeated elections as well as by early elections, a state of political uncertainty with negative consequences on the country’s social and economic development.
At first sight, this odd situation – there have been cases where they came one or two votes close to electing the president – is due to either inadequate constitutional prescriptions or other causes, among which we need to note the very tight electoral results – sometimes it is difficult to understand just how tight not to allow for the election of a president.
Apart from al these more or less justified reasons, there is, however, a stately geopolitical reality that simply cannot be missed in any political analysis. The Republic of Moldova is a state at the border between two massive state-economic entities, therefore in the vicinity of both the European Union and the Russian Federation. The competition for this neighbourhood between the two massive geopolitical entities, with commensurate irradiation of power beyond their borders, could but have left an imprint on the domestic political situation in R. of Moldova that happens to be on the borderline separating the EU from an area which is controlled by Moscow or that Moscow wants to control. In other words, the geographical situation of Moldova in between two giants, in a disputed neighbourhood which the EU wants to be peaceful and predictable and which Russia wants to keep under close monitoring (‘droit de regard’) is at the origin of a constant internal political tension. And not just in the Republic of Moldova.
In 2009, after the Russian-Georgian war, the Eastern Partnership was set up with the intention to implement the EU neighbourhood policy in neighbouring states – Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan – which attracted Russia’s discontent. It is from this standpoint that one needs to also understand the fact that the EU and Russia do not manage to renew the Bilateral Strategic Partnership initiated in 1997, although bilateral summits take place periodically. Supported by Russia, secessionist entitles such as Transdniester in R. of Moldova have been spots of instability in this neighbourhood, some having been solved – like in Abkhazia and South Ossetia – by war and becoming independent, although only recognised by Russia and a few other countries. It is in the same key that one should also read the commitments made by US Vice-President Joe Biden during his 2009 and 2010 visits to the region, with respect to the independence and integrity of those border states or to the rejection of the policy of spheres of influence pursued by Russia, the former major unionist integrator of the region at the time of the Soviet Union.
A new parliamentary voting on the election of the president of the republic was due on January 15, 2012, after a previous December attempt did not gather the necessary number of votes. The political blockage installed ever since the Alliance for European Integration (AIE) wan election in 2009 was going to perpetuate, depriving the Republic of Moldova of the political stability it needed to deal with pressing economic and social issues. The spectacle of a new snap election was already shaping up for an electorate already fatigued by the excesses of this constitutional deadlock. However, on January 12, the Constitutional Court ruled the December 16 voting on the election of the president unconstitutional and cancelled it, finding that the MPs had broken the law when they chose to disclose their voting intentions. That also annulled the parliament’s decisions validating the results of the voting and scheduling a new election for January 15.
The Constitutional Court ruling practically created a new political situation which entitled AIE to proceed to a new project: initiate a referendum on the modification of the Constitution to simplify the procedure for the election of the president of the republic. On January 15, the AIE party leaders said the referendum will take pace no later than April this year, which will allow for the president to be elected within a month afterwards.
The recitals of the declaration of the heads of AIE parties on January 15 state that ‘the citizens expectation from the Government is to elect the President and not an early election, thus ensuring stability and a European future for the Republic of Moldova,’ that AIE’s number one priority is to identify a sustainable solution to the constitutional crisis, because, only in that way ‘the protests starting two years ago advocating a genuine democratisation of the society, R. of Moldova’s integration in the European Union, the reintegration of the country, ensuring a good operation of the institutions of the state and a decent living standard for the citizens of the Republic of Moldova will have continuity and a finality.’ The declaration is signed by the leaders of the three AIE parties: Vlad Filat (PLDM), Marian Lupu (PDM) and Mihai Ghimpu (PLM). Constitutional law experts are already working to identify ways to amend the constitution to allow the new political project that will be submitted for referendum in April to concretise.
There is no doubt that this is a logical and welcome step, as all conscientious political forces of the country are called to contribute to the success of the identified constitutional coalition. If the referendum is successfully carried out which can already be anticipated, although the results of a similar one two years ago is a warning for AIE in respect of the preparations that need to be made ahead of consulting the national electorate – this will put an end to an extended period of political instability. The courage of the AIE leaders cannot be enough emphasised, and the same applies to the respect for the democratic norms of identifying and concretising solutions through which stability and fluency will be achieved for the Moldovan political life.