April 10, 2009
After Orange (Ukraine), Rose (Georgia) and Tulip (Kyrgyzstan) revolutions the first try of next generation demonstration took place in Moldova after last weekends parliamentary elections. Known now as “Twitter Revolution” the protest was self-organized by two youth movements – Hyde Park and ThinkMoldova – using their generation’s tools of social messaging network to gather 10,000-15,000 demonstrators on streets in Moldova’s capital Chisinau, ransacking presidential palace and parliament building.
As many as 50 per cent of Moldovan eligible voters cast their ballots for the Party of Communists (PCRM). Thus, the ruling party won a landslide victory leaving the other three political parties that made it to parliament far behind. Three other parties managed to pass the 6 per cent threshold required to enter the legislature. All three are in favour of closer ties with the European Union, free-market policies and pursuing NATO membership. The Communists (PCRM) are pro-EU, anti-NATO and less market-friendly.
Election observers from EU and OSCE accepted the voting as fair, though they expressed some concern about interference from the authorities (OSCE report). But the results were a deep disappointment in the capital. Expectation of change was in the air before voting, but that did not happen.
More about elections in my earlier post “Election in Moldova – NATO perspective blocked”
According The New York Times the protests apparently started on Monday, when organizers from two youth movements, Hyde Park and ThinkMoldova, began calling for people to gather at an event billed as “I am a not a Communist.”
Natalia Morar, one of the leaders of ThinkMoldova, described the effort on her blog as “six people, 10 minutes for brainstorming and decision-making, several hours of disseminating information through networks, Facebook, blogs, SMSs and e-mails.” She said the protests, organised under the slogan, were organised online: “All the organisation was through the internet, and 15,000 people came on to the street.”
The protesters created their own searchable tag – #pman referring Chisinau’s central square – on Twitter, rallying Moldovans to join. Real time communication can be checked from #pman.
Mihai Moscovici 25, who provided updates in English all day over Twitter, painted a more nuanced picture. He said the gathering on Monday night drew only several hundred people. The protesters agreed to gather the next morning and began spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter. When Internet service was shut down, Mr. Moscovici said, he issued updates with his cellphone.
Violence by accident
That demonstration turned to be violent was surprise to activists. Mr. Moscovici said the protests were never intended to turn in that direction. “The situation got beyond any expectations,” he said. “If it would have been planned in advance, they would have used Molotov cocktails or other bad stuff. Today they didn’t have any tools to fight back. The stones they got from the ground, from the pavement.”
Also Ms. Morar of ThinkMoldova distanced her organization from the violence, shifting the blame to opposition parties. ” What bothers her the most, she said, is the suggestion that she and her friends somehow contributed to the violence, which she watched on television. “Believe me, there is nothing at all enjoyable about it,” she said. (Source NYT)
ThinkMoldova — Change Moldova! is a platform dedicated to young people. It is the place where young people directly participate in proposing new ideas and take part in the decisions important for their own future and their country.It is about giving initiative to young people and fights to offer them the possibility to affirm themselves outside of the conventional, hierarchical and parochial institutions prevalent in Moldova’s society and political system.
ThinkMoldova’s mission is to create an active and productive dialogue between decision makers, experts and young people. I am sure this kind of platform can attract much more than traditional party youth organizations and example from Moldova shows its effectiveness in politics.
Today’s communication tools are providing new aspects into election campaigns and into politics in general. One of them is that modern technology can inspirit young voters. The second aspect is that the protest does not necessary channel via voting but through street democracy.
One can claim that both of these aspects can include undemocratic elements because majority of population is not familiar with these tools and direct democracy with violence can gain power more than fair share. On the other hand one can claim that the Establishment in such has so strong means to exercise of power that normal elections are insignificant. My position is not clear because situations in every society differ.
Use of today’s information possibilities has many ways. Th!nk About It blogging campaign is one forum to inspire youth involvement with the 2009 European Parliamentary Elections based mostly discussion and debate in internet. ThinkMoldova gives example how debate can be brought on the street level. We shall see what is the next Think, can it be EU wide and can it motivate crowds to streets or direct actions.
The Moldovan experiment showed that with Twitter some development has made since demonstrations in Ukraine 2004 and Belorussia 2006 which were gathered mainly with SMS. It is practical and effective but from my point of view not sufficient method for democratic revolution. For protest sure, for revolution maybe, sometime, somewhere.
Real time communication related to Moldova can be checked from #pman
More my views in my BalkanBlog