Presidential Election

If the US hadn't messed up our presidential election so thoroughly we could give the Moldovans more grief over their elections.

It all started last summer. The Parliament amended the constitution so that they would elect the president directly instead of having popular elections. So far so good - there are lots of countries where the Parliament elects the chief executive. However the new constitution also requires that to win the election the new president must receive 61 votes out of the hundred members of parliament in a secret ballot election. If no candidate receives 61 votes then a second election is held two weeks later. If there is still no winner then the President may dissolve Parliament and call for new elections.

So at the beginning of December Parliament had the first vote. There were two candidates, one communist and one "reformer", the chairman of the Supreme Court. The communists have forty members of Parliament so that if they all vote for their candidate then nobody else can win. But it is a secret ballot, so who can predict what will happen, right? Well, at the first election the communists all showed each other their "secret" ballots before dropping them in the box. The communist candidate got 57 votes, four short of victory.

But the other candidate cried foul, that this was not a secret ballot. A few days later the Supreme Court ruled that a secret ballot wasn't secret if people showed others what they had written on their ballot. At least the candidate who is chairman of the Supreme Court recused himself from the case. Even without his vote the court ruled that a new first round of elections must be held. A few days later they held the second vote and the communist got 59 votes - still two short. Several members abstained.

But now the right wing began to panic. They were afraid that two more members would defect (in secret) because they don't really want to have new parliamentary elections. They offered the communist the prime minister position if they would agree to a different president. I don't understand that because the prime minister seems to have much more power than the president. But anyway he refused.

Then the right wing figured out a way to get around the secret ballot provisions. They decided to boycott the election. On the appointed day fewer than 61 parliament members showed up to vote. The Speaker ruled that they lacked a quorom and a new vote was scheduled for a week later.

Now it was time to go back to court. The President asked the court to rule whether he now had the power to dissolve Parliament since they had failed to elect a new president within the required time. The court ruled for the President. So on December 31 he dissolved Parliament. New elections will be held at the end of February. Meanwhile the current President's term expires in mid-January. But under the constitution he will remain president until a replacement is elected. Of course the new parliament may also fail to find 61 votes for one candidate. Some people claim the incumbent is "President for Life".

I'll send an update next month.

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