8 December 1991. Mircea Snegur is elected president of Moldova by nation-wide voting
18:09 | 06.12.2021 Category:
The issue of the political regime due to be established has been present on the political agenda since the beginning of the work of the first democratically elected parliament. Moldova’s presence as part of the USSR and the lack of a parliamentary majority able to assume an important decision and to amend the Constitution did not allow a sincere and competent discussion on this matter during the 1990 year and the first half of the 1991 year.
By the end of the summer of the 1990 year, the actions of the separatists from the eastern and southern Moldova intensified. All bodies of the legitimate power were liquidated in the districts from the left bank of Dniester and pseudo-institutions were set up, subjected to the breakaway regime from Tiraspol. In these conditions, on 2-3 September, the parliament held an emergency meeting in Chisinau and described the situation as serious and established the office of Moldova’s president. Mircea Snegur was elected as president by qualified majority.
Yet, after the proclamation of independence and starting of the process of international recognition of Moldova, the situation worsened in the breakaway regions even more. An important group of MPs proposed discussions on the issue of the political regime and election of the country’s president by nation-wide voting. At that time, an opposition was set up in parliament, made up of supporters of the People’s Front, who were angry on the dismissal of Mircea Druc from the office of prime minister. They perfectly understood that the only candidate with real chances for the position of head of state was Mircea Snegur, whom they regarded as author of the dismissal of People’s Front’s PM. Following several days of hot discussions, sometimes exaggerated ones, nevertheless, on 18 September 1991, most lawmakers voted for the establishment of a semi-presidential regime and the president’s election by nation-wide voting. The presidential elections were established for 8 December 1991.
At that point, no multiparty system was set up in Moldova. The Communist Party was banned immediately after the coup d’etat from August 1991 and the People’s Front was a strong movement, yet quite heterogeneous and with permanent staff fluctuations. It was a problem for someone to put forward a candidate able to cope with Mircea Snegur, who had got a solid capital of trust among the residents.
From the very beginning, nevertheless, the former first secretary of the Communist Party, Grigore Eremei, and writer and ecologist Gheorghe Malarciuc announced their candidacies. Yet, after the first meetings with citizens, they understood that they had quite poor chances at this ballot and withdrew their candidacies. The first presidential elections in Moldova’s history started with a single candidate – Mircea Snegur.
The candidate, according to the legislation in force, created his staff and established 50 confidence people. Here, Snegur gave a spectacular blow to the opposition, through the inclusion of a large number of well-known people from politics, science and culture supporters of the People’s Front in the list of the confidence people. The only way through which the opposition could thwart the election of Snegur was the boycotting of the elections, which they actually did with much endeavour.
It was obvious that Snegur will pick up a large number of votes in almost all districts. Exception represented only the districts from the left bank of Dniester. A part of the citizens were backing the breakaway regime there and agreed with the boycotting of the polls. Nevertheless, most Moldovans wanted to participate in the ballot, in order to confirm their support for Moldova. Snegur set the task to get an as large as possible number of votes on the left bank of Dniester, in order to prove the belonging of these areas to Moldova.
With all efforts of the electoral campaign team, decision-makers managed to open polling stations only in the districts of Dubasari and Grigoriopol, where the Moldovan population was majority. Electoral meetings took place in more settlements and citizens were expressing their enthusiasm for the fact that they can participate in this political exercise. As it was expected, the elections took place in the Dubasari and Grigoriopol districts and the results were impressive.
Candidate Snegur came to voters with a complex and balanced electoral programme. This document was made up of three components: political, economic and social. In the political part, the programme emphasized the need of adoption of a New Constitution of Moldova, based on the principles of the international law, of the universal declaration of human rights, which is to assert within the state the democracy, fairness, freedom of person, conscience and expression, state powers’ separation.
In the economic part, emphasis was put on the complex privatization of the state property, free competition and putting peasants in possession of land.
In the social part, the programme was taking into account the difficulties of the transition period and the need to protect the vulnerable categories of the population, develop the culture, science and education.
Given the absence of a counter-candidate, Snegur was heading towards a comfortable victory. On 8 December, a quite high voter turnout was recorded in most districts controlled by the constitutional regime. On the left bank of Dniester, the separatists made huge efforts to intimidate the population and thwart the electoral process. By the mid-day of 9 December, the Central Electoral Commission announced the results. The voter turnout was of 83.96 per cent at the ballot. Almost 2 million electors voted for Mircea Snegur, which accounted for 98.22 per cent. And important was that about 89 per cent of the voters participated in the elections in Dubasari and 62 per cent – in Grigoriopol. In general, a record result was registered in Moldova, never repeated in the country’s contemporary history.
Mircea Snegur had an extremely difficult presidential mandate, marked by the independence war from 1992, a difficult and late agrarian reform, privatization for vouchers, which enriched certain people and impoverished the overwhelming majority of the population, as well as by a self-assertion of Moldova internationally and the appearance of the democratic institutions and the first elements of a functional market economy. Mircea Snegur remains as the first president of Moldova’s in history. A president who hesitated, made serious mistakes, but also proved a special courage and an authentic patriotism.