First Vlad Plahotniuc's interview after elections: Citizens did not vote for a snap election
The President of the Democratic Party of Moldova Vlad Plahotniuc gave Deschide.MD the first interview after elections.
— I would like, first of all, to ask you whether you are satisfied with the result of the Democratic Party in the elections held on February 24?
— The result reflects the last opinion polls, and I had no other expectations. For the Democratic Party, this was a historical score. For me, personally, the result I scored in constituency no. 17 is one that honours me and, at the same time, obliges me towards my fellow citizens, whom I thank for their trust. I also thank all citizens who voted for the Democratic Party and my hard-working colleagues, who have run in constituencies.
I think the most important result of these elections is the beginning of a geo-political reconciliation; these are the first elections marking the prevalence of social issues rather than geo-political subjects. We participated in hundreds of electoral meetings, and people did not ask us whether we were pro-Europeans, pro-Romanians, pro-Americans, pro-Russians, they were interested in what can we do for Moldova. I believe that Moldovan citizens have always prioritized social and economic issues, but some parties have pushed divisive agendas, in order to win over certain segments of voters. In all elections, we have always had pro-Europeans, pro-Russians, unionist parties, but never a party for Moldova. However, PDM [Democratic Party of Moldova] tried to break this false geo-political myth and unite people around a project for Moldova. This downgraded importance of geo-political issues in this campaign is also reflected by the results of parties with extremist views, that have not entered the Parliament. However, the gain is different: these elections have shown that people are no longer vulnerable to geo-political issues. Many analysts and politicians prefer to avoid seeing this positive reality, because it would confirm that PDM's strategy was successful, and the benefits of the mixed voting system for citizens are real, as well as the fact that this mixed system gave access to a very large number of new people in the Parliament, which is a first real reform of the legislative body.
It must be noted that many people were telling us before the elections that we risk by running in elections on a social agenda, but our very good result shows that people have voted for us exactly because we share their concerns, as proven by our time in government, before the elections.
I would also like to mention that, as a result of these elections, right-wing parties have severely dropped, and a number of parties felt forced to join the ACUM bloc to ensure their access to Parliament, which is a signal that should not be neglected. We also take into account the opposite effect produced by the European Union suspending funding for Moldovans, at the request of some leaders of the ACUM bloc. It was visible in recent polls how much confusion and negative effects were generated by this decision of a blatant political nature. There are, however, lessons to be learned, if we look realistically and objectively at the outcome of these elections.
— Do you think the elections were held in good conditions, were they free and democratic?
— That's not for me to say. First, those who give legitimacy to the elections are the citizens, through their presence at ballot stations and by voting. Then there are foreign and local observers, who, for these elections, I believe, were more numerous and more vigilant than ever, concluding that these elections were competitive and fundamental rights were observed. Certainly, problems may arise in any elections, it happens everywhere, but what is important is that there were no problems affecting the electoral process or the results of the elections. Many used to tell us that Moldova will go through a decisive test of how these elections will be organized under the new mixed system, and the conclusions of international observers were that these elections were held in a competitive environment and the fundamental rights and freedoms were respected, starting with the registration of candidates, campaigning, voting, observing the citizens' vote. And the merit for this is not of the Democratic Party, even though it is the ruling party, but it is the merit of the state institutions that handled this electoral process correctly.
— The leaders of ACUM bloc do contradict you, they say the elections were fraudulent.
— They are the only ones who say this after the assessment made by all international organizations pointing that these elections were conducted in a correct way. It happens that some politicians, if they are not satisfied with the outcome, would resort to such accusations in order to justify the result. Here we are talking about an obvious situation when everyone has already mentioned the democratic way in which these elections were held. However, it is the right of any participant in an electoral competition to have opinions, to express dissatisfaction.
— Could we have new elections? Are you preparing for early elections? Or what might be the meaning of the referral to the Constitutional Court made by Mr. Sergiu Sirbu?
— For the Democratic Party, early elections would not be politically problematic, it would be a new challenge which we would overcome with a better outcome, because we learnt from all things that maybe did not go well in some places and we are ready to improve ourselves. However, early elections may represent a serious problem for the country and for citizens. Early elections would trigger a complicated crisis with possible severe effects on economy and social aspects. Whoever is trying to trigger early elections must prepare to respond not only for this political decision, but also before the citizens, for the negative effects that would follow. However, we have learned to be always one step ahead of events, and not letting ourselves being taken by surprise, that is why we asked the Constitutional Court to provide an interpretation, so that if anyone forces a crisis of early elections, we should know how to protect the citizens. We did not file this referral to obtain more power for the Government or to substitute the Parliament. We lodged it to understand how we can handle an exceptional situation, one that would entail very negative effects for the country. People have elected us to solve the problems in the country, not to conduct elections until someone is happy with their outcome.
— The bloc ACUM refused any discussion with you and announced that it will further keep this position. What the Democratic Party will do in this situation?
— In a way I understand them, they announced they would refuse a dialogue, because they caught themselves in a trap even before the elections, when, in order to better mobilize their supporters, they signed that document about not making any alliances. It was a political step that they perhaps considered useful and it should be accepted as it is. However, parties in electoral competitions all over the world, that compete as enemies, often make statements that in no way they will ally with the opponents, but after the elections things start to change, because everybody understands that the country needs to be governed. We had similar situations in other European countries, where the President swore he would not appoint a certain person as Prime Minister and then actually appoints him or her, or some other situations when parties used to declare wars, but then they allied in the Parliament; we also witnessed a long crisis in Germany, which eventually brought the political opponents together in government.
— But these countries have different models of democracy, where opposition and governance are in a real political competition, which does not go beyond certain red lines...
— It's not exactly like that. Look what kind of statements they have made about each other, you will see that they addressed each other with very ugly accusations. During the entire electoral campaign, the Democratic Party did not attack anyone, we never used hate speech or divisive language, we responded only when we were unfairly attacked, but even then we did it decently. So, we are not in the situation to come out of this election as from a very ugly fight of words. If there were some linguistic spillages, they came from our political opponents, but we are not upset, we have forgotten them, since for us the words are not important, but the deeds, what can we all do for the country. Otherwise, what politicians think about each other, this interests less the citizens. And I give you an example: many of those who have been elected on the list of ACUM or in constituencies used to be in alliance with PDM in the past, they used to be appointed to various positions based on PDM’s vote, they participated in negotiations for establishing alliances with PDM and other parties. And at that time they had no problem in making alliance with us. This is just an example showing that the impossibility of holding discussions between parties does not really exist, it is strictly a matter of willingness and a desire to work for the country, and not to just follow your own interests.
— This invitation for a dialogue that you have sent to the bloc ACUM – isn’t it a new poisoned apple, as they say in Chisinau?
— We have sent that invitation to the leaders of the ACUM bloc without making it public and without even publicly announcing that we have sent it, precisely to avoid such interpretations and to try in the most serious way to have a first discussion with them, to understand whether we can find a way to sit down at the negotiation table. We were ready to go to such a meeting with a very clear negotiation plan, with a proposal for a possible agreement on very concrete issues, as they resulted from the problems raised by citizens during our electoral meetings. I think that, first and foremost, we must show to our citizens and to foreign partners what kind of government we want to establish, and then with whom.
— And what shall you do if ACUM still refuses to meet with DPM and talk about a possible deal? Will you send them a letter again?
— I think that those who put public pressure on the leaders of the ACUM bloc made a mistake, this will block them even harder. I think they understand that they will be directly responsible for possible early elections and for pushing this country into a crisis. Do not forget that this is an electoral bloc made up of several parties, new entities, people with no experience in politics, people who entered the Parliament based on hate speech against the governance. I don’t criticize them for this, it was a strategy based on which they won some mandates, there is always an electorate that is against the government and they have spoke to this electorate. The problem is that their, ours or any other party’s voters want this country to be governed, they did not vote for a political crisis, for making this state unable to pay pensions and wages. If they knew their vote for the bloc ACUM means early elections in the country, I think their vote would be different or would not exist at all.
— If ACUM refuses to negotiate with PDM, what is the next step? Are there some talks about an alliance with PSRM?
— It is natural to ask me about this, but it is just as natural for me and especially fair to refrain from exposing any scenario in advance. At this moment, we are not negotiating with anyone, we have made just one step, which is already known, we have sent this invitation to ACUM. We did not undertake other actions. We are waiting for the validation of mandates and the constitution of the Parliament, and then, depending on the developments, we will decide on next steps. I think that any answer I may give today could be used later as a pretext to speculate on the reasons why negotiations with ACUM failed.
— How long would Moldova stand without a Government, so as to avoid triggering the crisis you spoke above?
— We had a certain pace of governing until the elections, an alert one, during which we launched important projects, which should be continued immediately. But some of them cannot be continued without a fully operational Government and without a parliamentary majority. People are expecting us to vote for a range of social projects, they want to see the elected ones working. We are not here to witness the crisis coming, we shall find solutions to move forward.
— Well, now you are solving these issues, but what if the Governments is not established, and a crisis will mess everything up anyway. What will you do in that case?
— You should ask this those who will trigger that crisis, because they will have to respond before the citizens. The elected MPs of the ACUM bloc have to assume the crisis they are unleashing in the country, if they refuse the dialogue and chose the path of chaos. In such a situation, it will be our priority to protect the citizens from suffering. But it is not the proper moment to anticipate more. What I can tell you for sure is that the Democratic Party will do everything politically possible to avoid a new crisis, similar to that of early 2016, we will do our best to keep citizens from going through such moments.
— I understand that you do not want to anticipate more clearly what happens if ACUM keeps refusing taking part in negotiations, but can you tell us how do you see the future government? How it will work, what direction it will take?
— The way how the future governance will work is provided by the agreement concluded by those who create the parliamentary majority, but it must be based on the social needs of the people. The Democratic Party is the only party that has already made public such a draft agreement, we think that people are rather eager to see how we will govern, than who allies with whom and who is put into office. That is why I think that negotiations for establishing the future alliance should be focused on social issues, concrete projects of renovating the roads, water supply and sanitation, waste management, wage and pension increases, very clear actions for people, not political ideas and empty words.
— Finally, I would like to ask whether those attacks against you from Moscow did influence the DPM score? Two days before the suffrage Russians announced that they would have made a criminal case-file on you. There have also been several critical articles against you in Russian media.
— In these elections, the Democratic Party won the largest number of mandates in our political history. I personally wasvoted by 72.36 percent of the voters who voted in 17th constituency, PDM had an extraordinary score in this constituency - 72.27%. The party has also had record scores in localities with Russian speaking population. So,the results show that if electoral attacks had any impact, it was a positive one for my result and for the party I lead, and it was a failure for those who have orchestrated these attacks against us.
— Thank you.
— I thank you, too.