In Parliament yesterday, the AIE majority voted to extend to six months the length of time for which a deputy can hold another position (e.g. as a Government minister or as a mayor).
It is not unusual internationally for ministers to also retain a seat in parliament; that is the model in the Westminster democracies as well as in many continental European systems. Many of the countries that allow such concentration of power have the highest scores on human rights, press freedom, economic freedom etc., so concentration in itself is not a threat to democracy.
What is troubling about the AIE's action, however, is that the spirit, if not the letter, of the Moldovan Constitution is being breached. While the basic law has more holes than a Swiss cheese (and gives the AIE a degree of 'wiggle room'), it is clear that Executive power and Legislative power are supposed to be separated.
What is even more troubling is that the measure was pushed through both of its parliamentary readings in a single session, with little or no possibility for debate.
This move plays right into the hands of the Communist opposition. They will be able to portray (with some justification) the AIE as 'usurpers of power'. They may be able to win some judgements in the Constitutional Court against the measure and against parliamentary votes taken.
It all begs the question why the move was necessary. Filat and his team have more than enough work at the Government to keep them occupied. Chirtoaca has more than enough work at city hall. Furthermore, in the event that the AIE ministers and mayors resign their deputies mandates, they will be replaced in parliament by new deputies from their party lists, meaning that the balance of power in Parliament should not change.
Without a clear explanation and justification from the AIE, all we will be left with is speculation. One possibility that comes to my mind is that the AIE leadership do not have confidence in the people they have placed further down their lists. Another is that the AIE have some sort of secret plan (e.g. involving early elections or a constitutional referendum) that will unfold within the next few months, and they don't want this disturbed by changes to the composition of Parliament.
If readers have any other ideas, I'd love to hear them. Oh, and perhaps the AIE could also tell us what is going on?