Moldova’s court approves of referendum to amend constitution as trust in politics hits an all-time low

Tue 10 Nov 2015

Moldova’s court approves of referendum to amend constitution as trust in politics hits an all-time low

On 10 November Moldova’s Constitutional Court (CC) ruled in favor of a referendum of four amendments to the constitution, after the Central Election Commission (CEC) asked the court to rule on the issue. The amendments will be to Articles 60,70,78 and 89, which would limit the number of MPs from 101 to 71, ban parliamentary immunity, see the president elected by direct votes and have the president removed by a referendum supported by at least one third of MPs in case of a violation of the constitution. In order to hold the referendum at least 20.000 signatures need to be collected within three months. For the past months Moldova has experienced mass protests and last week the Prime Minister was forced to resign, leading many Moldovans to lose trust in their politicians.

Constitution

It is unclear when the referendum, if the 20.000 signatures are collected in time and are deemed valid, will exactly take place. Chairman of the CC, Alexandru Tanasa, said that the CC “clarified matters related to the organization of such a referendum, thus ruling that the parliament will only have the technical duty to set up the date and allot financial means needed to carry out the event”. Meanwhile Iurie Ciocan, chairman of the CEC, said that the CEC “has already started the examination of this draft, and its members will come up with an answer 15 days from the moment of application”. The ruling of the CC cannot be appealed and the parliament has no power to prevent the referendum from taking place. In an opinion poll by the International Republican Institute held this week , 68% of those questioned said that they would participate in the referendum. And 89% said they agree with the direct election of the president by voters.

Lack of trust
The court decision was made amid political unrest in Moldova, as parties are holding talks to form a new government coalition. Trust in politics in the country is at an all-time low, as 79% of those questioned in the International Republican Institute poll said they believe Moldova is heading the wrong way, while 71% believes the country needs reforms. Almost 90% of those questioned believes corruption is a major problem in the country. Last month former Prime Minister Vlad Filat was arrested on suspicion of corruption and fraud. Filat was a powerful figure in the Liberal Democratic Party and has accused his rival, Democratic party (PDM) figure Vlad Plahotniuc of orchestrating his impeachment. Both Filat and Plahotniuc are among the least approved politicians according to the poll. When asked to state their opinion of the two 85% of the respondents said they disapprove of Plahotniuc, while 83% said they disapprove of Filat.

Talks
Meanwhile official negotiations on the formation of a new government coalition were started on November 9th. In the current pro-European coalition of Democrats (PDM), Liberal Democrats (PLDM) and Liberals (LP), fighting between mainly the PDM and PLDM has delayed progress on the formation of the new coalition. On 9 November PDM leader Marian Lupu said he had held talks with the LP and the European’s People Party of Moldova (PPEM) and reinforced his pro-European believes by saying that the general goal of any new coalition would be “implementation of the Association Agreement with the EU and dealing with economic and social matters”. Furthermore he said the PLDM was also welcome to join the negotiations, but warned that “there is no place for those who are sulky in the current politics”. LP leader Mihai Ghimpu urged that “the Lib-Dems must sit at the negotiating table together with us. I will phone them personally to invite them”, because “the country needs a Government”. Acting PLDM chairman Valeriu Strelet said that “the Democrats must fully change their attitude” and only if that happens “the National Political Council of the PLDM will decide if we will take part in the discussions with the Democratic Party or not”. He ended by saying “the PLDM does not have confidence in the PDM”.