Moldova’s Constitutional Court has invalidated a decree issued by President Igor Dodon, by which Dodon planned to increase the power of the presidency by a consultative referendum.
The decision shows Moldova has functioning legal institutions that are able to prevent politicians using their positions to undermine democracy in the country. This could have implications for Moldova’s newly adopted electoral law, which stipulates a switch to a mixed electoral system, but will probably need clarifications before it is enforced.
In the referendum, Dodon planned to ask for more powers for the presidency to dissolve the parliament. However, the court explained that this would not be to the benefit of political balance in a parliamentary regime such as Moldova’s. The president already has the power to dissolve the parliament under certain circumstances that would lead to political deadlock.
Dodon also wanted to cancel the law under which government agreed to pay the loses incurred by three failed banks in Moldova’s “$1bn bank frauds” from the state budget. The court explained that this cannot be the topic of a consultative referendum, although it could be the subject of a legislative referendum.
In addition, the president wanted to reduce the number of MPs from 101 to 71 and replace the History of Romanians currently on school curricula with the History of Moldova.
Reducing the number of MPs should also be the subject of a legislative rather than a consultative referendum, the court explained.
As regards history, this topic would be more appropriately decided by academic institutions, the court concluded.
Finally, the Constitutional Court ruled that the president can initiate a consultative referendum, but the final decision should be taken by the parliament. The court also explained that a consultative referendum can focus on one topic only.