The Mayor Who Never Was

After Andrei Năstase, leader of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party, filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights regarding the invalidation of his victory in Chișinău’s May-June 2018 local elections, the Court suggested an amicable settlement. As a result, on October 8, 2019, Năstase became mayor of Chișinău for 12 days – until the next local elections on October 20. However, he resigned shortly after entering office, so he could continue his current electoral campaign.

During the second round of the 2018 mayoral elections, Andrei Năstase –  the current leader of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party who is also serving as Moldova’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs – defeated his opponent by 12,643 votes. However, the Chișinău Court invalidated the results. The Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice then maintained the Chișinău Court’s decision.

The main argument was based on a video Andrei Năstase posted on his Facebook page on election day, urging people to go to the polling stations. Năstase did not suggest who the citizens should vote for, but the court qualified his message as an act of electoral agitation in his own interest. 

Later on, Năstase filed a complaint at the ECtHR and received a response in July 2019, when the Court invited the Moldovan Government to express its position regarding a possible amicable settlement in the case of Andrei Năstase vs. Moldova by October 8, 2019. 

Andrei Năstase, the Dignity and Truth Platform Party, the Socialist Party, as well as the Electoral Council of Electoral District no.1 also submitted a request to the Chișinău Court of Appeal in August 2019, for a review of the previous court decision that invalidated his victory in the local elections on the basis of “electoral agitation on election day.” 

On October 8, 2019, the Chișinău Court of Appeal decided to completely overturn the decision judge Rodica Berdilo made in June 2018, which invalidated the results of the 2018 local elections in Chișinău. 

“As a result of the new local elections of the General Mayor of Chișinău from May 10, 2018 (round I) – June 3, 2018 (round II), Andrei Năstase, the candidate of the Political Party ‘Dignity and Truth Platform’ is considered elected in the position of General Mayor of Chișinău,” states the decision, taken by Chișinău Court of Appeal judges Vladislav Clima, Ecaterina Palanciuc and Ala Malîi on October 8.

According to Năstase there was no evidence of the alleged act of electoral agitation that was attributed to him. 

Thus, taking into account the request submitted to the ECtHR, the Chișinău Court of Appeal overturned the decision of June 12, 2018 and reopened the case for trial.

Then on September 11, 2019, Andrei Năstase filed another request for revision, this time against the Chișinău Court of Appeal’s decision (taken on June 21, 2018) to invalidate the results of the local elections. 

In his application, Năstase asked that the decision that served as basis for the invalidation of the elections be overturned. 

The Chisinău Court of Appeal examined Năstase’s request for revision and quashed the Chișinău Court of Appeal’s previous decision. The Court re-examined the case on October 4, 2019 and the final decision was announced on October 8.

With this appeal, the parties requested the confirmation of the legality of the new local elections for the general mayor of Chișinău and the validation of Năstase’s mandate.

The Chișinău Court of Appeal then issued a new decision, confirming that Andrei Năstase was the rightfully elected Mayor of Chișinău during the 2018 local elections. 

According to Maxim Lebedinschi, member of the Central Election Commission (CEC), the decision of the magistrates meant Andrei Năstase could exercise the function of Mayor General of Chișinau until the next local elections, set for October 20, 2019.

However, on October 9, Andrei Năstase suspended his activity as elected mayor of the capital and handed over all the duties to the current interim mayor, Adrian Talmaci.

“I suspended my activity as mayor. I submitted an application for suspension from office. I handed the duties over to Mr. Talmaci, I had a discussion with him. I have complied with the legal norms. I made this decision according to the rules established by law. I will not receive the mayoral salary during this period, because I was out of office,” Năstase said. 

When asked about the Chișinău Court of Appeal decision Năstase claimed that the court decision does justice to him “only to a certain extent” and that those who are guilty of the fact that “the citizens of Chișinău were deprived of a mayor will have to respond for their actions.”

“Plahotniuc’s criminal government, instrumentalized the controlled and politically corrupt justice [system], and Dodon’s candidate Ion Ceban, committed an act of illegality and injustice in relation to the citizens and voters in Chișinău and the suburbs,” Năstase declared.

Năstase explained to ZdG that he submitted several requests for case revision. And his request on which the decision to validate the elections was taken is based on a July communication from the ECtHR.

“I submitted requests for revision of the two cases in which illegal decisions were issued regarding the finding of the violation of the electoral legislation and the second, regarding the invalidation of the elections.

Regardless of what will follow, we’ll move on in this campaign to compete democratically. I have a moral duty towards the people who chose me. I can’t help being with them. The truth is on our side. Now we just have to vote and reconfirm last year’s results. The battle for the capital is decisive and we cannot afford to lose it,” said Andrei Năstase, who is now the ACUM Bloc candidate in the October 20 local elections.

The Chișinău local elections are set to take place on October 20, 2019. Andrei Năstase is the ACUM Bloc candidate for the position of mayor of the capital. Among his opponents is Ion Ceban, the representative of the Socialist Party, which is part of the governing coalition along with the ACUM Bloc. 

According to the new ACUM- Socialist agreement the parties undertook, the two will refrain from attacks on each other in the local elections.

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