Uninominal voting is better for Republic of Moldova

07 March 2017

Ever since the Congress of the Democratic Party in December 2016, when I was elected president of the party, my main project is to bring the party closer to the people, to govern correctly and to generate results that people would perceive as positive.
We already started every week, at Democratic Party's main office, to organize a meeting where members of the Parliament and ministers of the party, other ministers supported by the party, as well as other colleagues involved in organization of party activities, are involved. The goal of those meetings is to bring the activities of the party closer to people's agenda, to adjust it better to their needs.
We also propose to make party's communication with citizens more dynamic, also via briefings that are going to be organized every Monday, immediately after the meeting at the head office of the Democratic Party. Briefings are going to be held either by a representative of the party leadership or by our representatives in Government and in the Parliament, depending on the topics that were discussed at the weekly meeting.
The representatives of the Democratic Party will start a much more active program of field work, where their main task is to talk to people, to listen to them and to provide solutions to problems people face.
At the Congress, we spoke of political class reform, of the reform of the way we do politics in Moldova.
I was saying then that the reform must give people a chance of real control over politicians through their participation in decision making, but it should also allow people to sanction politicians that do not do their job well.
Unfortunately, nowadays the parliamentary elections looks like that:
  1. Presently the majority of citizens do not know the people they vote for. They vote for a party list, which is mostly anonymous.
  2. Presently the majority of citizens do not have representatives in political bodies of the state because the members of the Parliament are elected based on criteria other than direct representation.
  3. Presently the majority of citizens only control members of the Parliament once in 4 years time, on the day of parliamentary elections. After that, once elected, members of the Parliament forget about those who voted for them and the citizens must wait for another 4 years to be able to sanction them through voting. 
 It is neither correct, nor fair! It is also for this reason that we have in politics this huge gap between the people and politicians. 
In this context, now, we initiated a major project which will have positive effects on the politics in the Republic of Moldova.
Pursuant to the need to reform the political class, to the wish of people to have a better life together with their children, we decided, together with the colleagues from the Democratic Party, to support the reform of the system to elect members of the Parliament and to promote in the society and in the legislative forum the idea of uninominal voting system.
Uninominal voting shall solve several very important issues:
Uninominal voting gives citizens a real possibility to decide who they want to send to the Parliament, to no longer vote for party lists behind which sometimes there are anonymous, incompetent people or politicians that feel comfortable and forget about people who voted for them once the elections are over.
Uninominal voting makes the member of the Parliament be representative of a clear community of people, from a specific district. Thus, the districts are going to be represented in the Parliament by local people, not by people entered on the list centrally, by wish of the party leader or of a group of politicians. 
However, uninominal voting by itself will not solve the problem of citizens' control over members of the Parliament.
In business, for example, if you hire someone and the person does not do his or her job you fire that person and bring in another, more competent one.
Imagine what it would mean to be forced to keep incompetent personnel in a company for 4 years : you would very quickly go bankrupt.
In politics, however, under the current electoral system, the citizens must wait for 4 years and watch helplessly their vote being neglected and nothing being done. 
Thus, I proposed and discussed with my colleagues from the Democratic Party the proper solution and they agreed to it: for the first time in the Republic of Moldova we shall introduce for the citizens the possibility to withdraw the mandate of the member of the Parliament that does not do his/her job before the mandate expires.
To be more precise, if an MP:
  1. does not properly represent the interests of the community which elected them;
  2. resorts to fraud to dupe voters into electing them;
  3. is proven to be corrupt or serves special interest groups;
  4. disappoints the people who elected them;
  5. disregards voters’ voice, making promises but failing to deliver,
then the citizens will not have to wait for 4 years to sanction the MP, but will rather be able to vote them out of office during their mandate.
Therefore, the citizens get full control over those whom they will elect in a direct vote. They stamp the name of a candidate and not a party symbol. They send their candidate to the Parliament but at the same time can vote them out during their mandate if MPs don’t fulfill their duties.
In this way, a range of problems is addressed, including those related to: incompetence, party switching, political corruption, disregard of the votes which MPs receive from their respective communities. 
Another issue discussed today was the way in which we can ensure more active involvement of the diaspora in decisions taken in the country, so that diaspora is directly represented at the Parliament.  
At this stage, citizens who are abroad are not represented in the legislative forum and cannot make their voice heard.
It is difficult to bring back home, to Moldova, those who have left abroad if they do not even have parliamentary representation at home.
As a consequence, through this initiative to change the electoral system, for the first time in Moldova we will give the diaspora the possibility to have their own members of Parliament, the people who will come from the ranks of the diaspora, who will understand diaspora’s problems and who will be in a position to address them.
Thus, with the single member constituency system, the diaspora will have their own members of Parliament.
I know that some politicians, despite all the advantages of this system, will criticize this initiative, only because it is put forward by Plahotniuc! They will criticize it even though by doing so they go against the will of the people. 
My message to these politicians is the following:
Yes, dear politicians, through single member constituencies Plahotniuc wants citizens to elect members of parliament directly in their rayons, just as they elect mayors, and not vote for party lists with people they don’t know at all.
Yes, dear politicians, through single member constituencies Plahotniuc wants to give citizens an option to vote you out of Parliament, if, instead of going to the people to resolve their problems, you will do politics through populist posts on Facebook and empty shows in TV studios.
Yes dear politicians, through single member constituencies Plahotniuc wants citizens from the diaspora to elect their own members of Parliament from their own ranks, so that they are heard as well, and not only heard, but also empowered to resolve their problems. This all means real control over the political class and this is what we are proposing through vote in single member constituencies. 
In conceptualizing and elaborating this initiative which we will submit to the Parliament we have studied the experience with single member constituencies of many countries, advanced democracies, including the USA, Great Britain and France.
But our initiative is also based on opinion polls, which show that almost 80% of Moldovans support the shift to the voting system in single member constituencies and that the people want to have control over MPs for whom they vote. 
In 2013 there was an initiative to change the voting system. It was analyzed and received positive feedback from the Venice Commission, with only two remarks, which needed to be clarified.
In the new initiative which the Democratic Party will submit, these objections will have been resolved; but, even this being so, we will again send the initiative to the Venice Commission for approval. This is the reason why in the next few days we will submit this initiative to the Parliament, because from the procedural point of view this is the only way for this initiative to receive expert appraisal. 
In order to dispel speculations and misinformation, this initiative will be voted in final reading in the Parliament ONLY after we have the opinion of the Venice Commission and ONLY after we have conducted public consultations, including with civil society and political parties. 
We have analyzed most of the proposals to improve the electoral code which the Constitutional Court put forward after the last election. Solutions already exist for some of these proposals; other drawbacks could be eliminated with the change of the electoral system; and for the rest we will need to find solutions within a working group that has already been established at the Parliament. 
We will also conduct a national-level information campaign, in which we will first explain to the people what elections in single member constituencies and our initiative mean, and will then offer to sign in favor of this initiative, if, of course, they would be willing to do so. 
We believe that this direct dialogue with the people is very important, because we are speaking about an initiative which directly concerns them. In conclusion, the Democratic Party will stand for changing the electoral system into single member constituencies for the following reasons:
  1. Firstly, voting in single member constituencies enables the people to directly elect MPs, people whom they know in their constituencies, just as they elect Mayors, and not party lists, as is the case now.
  1. Secondly, vote in single member constituencies enables the people to withdraw before the expiration of the term the mandates of those MPs who do not fulfill their duties, and to elect others in their place.
  1. Thirdly, vote in singly member constituencies enables citizens from the diaspora to elect MPs from their ranks, and the diaspora will be able to have their own members in the future Parliament. 
We will do this transparently, by going through all the stages of the democratic process and through dialogue with all those who want Moldova to become a prosperous country with a perspective. 

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