The process of arranging early elections to the Parliament of Moldova might drag on against the background of the tactical struggle between authorities and opposition, who try avoidingthe traps cleverly set against each other.
Early parliamentary elections are gradually becoming the “alpha and omega” of the social and political life of Moldova this year. The need to hold them was discussed during the presidential campaign, including by both key candidates for the presidency. Indeed, there are more than enough arguments for arranging an extraordinary vote – the current composition of the country’s main legislative body has, to a certain extent, compromised itself by untenable coalition configurations and massive parliamentary migrations. It should also not be forgotten that it was assembled according to the “Plahotniuc” mixed electoral system.
Formally, all major political forces represented in parliament support the idea of organizing early elections. President Maia Sandu spoke about as well after consultations with parliamentary factions. “All formations are in favor of holding early parliamentary elections. Some want this happening as soon as possible, while others believe that elections should be held later. Anyway, absolutely all parliamentary factions agree that this parliament should be dissolved and citizens should elect a new legislative body that will represent them,”Sandu then stated.
In fact, the situation has no whit moved since then. The main problem is that there are few legal grounds to dissolution of current people’s deputies unless, of course, resorting to unconstitutional methods (for example – the street, which the opposition will not probably do now). This is the parliament’sdysfunction for 90 days or the two-time rejection of the nominated candidate for the post of prime minister within 45 days. The latter method seems to be the fastest and simplest one, because since the December consultations, they have been expecting the name of a candidate for the post of head of the Cabinet from Maia Sandu.
Nevertheless, the Moldovan leader is in no hurry to take this step, trying to find alternative ways. Thus, PASrepresentatives filed a request to the Constitutional Court (that became a kind of a lifesaver in the fight against the ruling majority) with a request to clarify whether there is a mechanism for the independent dissolution of Moldovan legislators. In theory, the answer is obvious – after all, there is the1993Constitutional Court decision, stating that parliament cannot dissolve itself simply by adopting an appropriate law. However, the court is not the first time to go to the perversion of the country’s basic law.
So far, judging by the statements of the head of state, self-dissolution is a priority scenario, and if it fails to be implemented, then some other steps will be taken. At the same time, it is not entirely clear when istheCC exactly going to consider this request since at least, it is not on the agenda of the institution in January.
Thus, we have to admit that the new president did not manage to quickly “push through” the early electionsissue and the process of arranging them is gradually delaying, postponing potential dates until the summer seasonat least. At the same time, Sandu herself has apparently abandoned the “cavalry swoop” tactics fearing to fall into the traps that her political opponents have set.
The president’s fears are clear. The PSRM’s “For Moldova” situational coalition seems to have collapsed (perhaps, under the weight of excessive ambitions of some of its members), but another opinion suggests this is just a tactical trick. This means that even a sheer underdog candidate for prime minister (Renato Usatii recently proposed himself for this role) may receive unexpected support from this de facto majority. The latter will thus be able, on the one hand, to postpone early elections for a while, and on the other, to shift responsibility for the grave domestic situation on the president and the Sandu-nominated prime minister, who will undoubtedly be widely-criticized by the socialists and the Sor parliamentary group, which will be extremely useful for tipping the pre-election scale.
It is obvious that Maia Sandu does not plan to play the card of early elections according to her opponents’ rules, and is trying to find other options, while preparing for the long game. This is indirectly evidenced by her request to the Constitutional Court regarding the possibility to enhance powers of acting Prime Minister Aureliu Ciocoi, who sided with the new head of state. “Even if dismissed, the government must ensure that the country is governed until the next cabinet is appointed. This implies the ability to reshuffle, dismiss and appoint high-ranking officials and civil servants under certain conditions, have access to funds within certain constitutional limits,” Sandu states.
The “minefield” laid by opponents before the new head of state’s rule significantly constrains her actions, extremely narrowing the room for maneuver and forcing her to look for non-trivial ways to solve urgent political problems. At the same time, trying to dodge the prepared “traps”, the president is taking a serious risk. Actually, her personal statements about the need for early elections throughout the election campaign prompted quite clear expectations in society in this regard. Now, any delay will simply not be understood by people who are tired of political games and waiting for clear and decisive actions.
Maia Sandu tried to explain her actions by the fact that nominating any candidate for prime minister of the country postpones early parliamentary elections, “We all understand that Moldova needs a reliable government to solve major challenges of our society and citizens. A huge problem is the lack of a robust majority support for such a government, and nominating any candidate for the post of prime minister today will postpone early elections, and I suppose that even those who made such proposals do not want this.”
However, according to the Constitution, the president is one way or another obliged to propose a candidate for the post of head of the Cabinet. Yes, no specific deadlines are provided, which in fact gives Sandu certain opportunities to temporarily ignore the existing legal guidelines. But for the president who declared the fight against corruption and strict adherence to the letter of law as her basic principles, it is in no way a very inspiring start to try to circumvent the Basic Law provisions in the very first weeks, even in the interests of good.
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