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Moldova Mulls Changes to Electoral System

Both potential changes drew international criticism for being a way for the current regime to shun accountability and stay in power longer. 

11 May 2017

Hundreds of people, including opposition figures, have been protesting in Chisinau against a recently approved proposal to change the electoral system, RFE/RL reports.

 

Last week, parliamentary deputies from the Democratic and Socialist parties presented their proposals for a switch to either a uninominal or a mixed electoral system. Parliament approved both proposals last Friday, Deutsche Welle writes. The next step is an assessment from the Venice Commission, an advisory body of the Council of Europe, composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law, after which the initiative will be discussed in parliament again.

 

Pro-Russian President Igor Dodon (pictured) announced last month that he is in favor of a mixed electoral system, and against a uninominal one, Deschide.md reports.

 

“Doing away with the proportional party system is a step backwards for Moldova. I do understand that some people want changes, including in the electoral system. Taking into account that the Democrats’ proposal is unacceptable, and that most people want to change the electoral system, I decided to come up with the proposal of a mixed electoral system,” Dodon said, according to Deschide.md.

 

However, both proposals have been criticized in Moldova, and in Brussels as well, New Europe reports. The European People’s Party (EPP) and the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) groups in the European Parliament said they “have never been as alarmed as we are now about the state of play” in the country. They said that the move is meant to consolidate the power of the leading Democratic Party “which calls itself pro-European — when in reality it is neither pro-Europe nor pro-Moldova.”

The proposal also led to protests in Chisinau, attended by hundreds of people, including former presidential candidate Maia Sandu, and other civic activists, Crime Moldova wrote. The protesters carried banners and shouted slogans like “We don’t want to replace the voting system, we want to replace you!” and "We won’t change the system, we’ll change you."

 

“It is our duty to defend our country from people who steal our future. When an illegitimate and compromised political party makes decisions against citizens, with the risk of turning into a dictatorship, we have the duty to defend democracy and the legal state,” Sandu said, according to Jurnal.md.

 

 

  • The president’s proposal states that 51 seats (out of a total of 101) should be elected from party lists, and the rest from electoral districts; at least half of the districts should be dedicated to voters abroad and from the breakaway Transdniester region. 

 

  • Moldova’s current electoral system is based on proportional representation, where several people are elected in each district, their number depending on the size of the district. The final number of seats for each party depends on the proportion of votes received by each party’s candidates. In contrast, the uninominal voting system consists of only one member selected from each electoral district.

 

  • Dodon has vowed to shift Moldova from an EU-directed path to a pro-Russia one, which is a radical departure from the pro-EU policies of several successive ineffective and corruption-tarnished administrations.

Compiled by Ioana Caloianu

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