A series of problematic aspects related to the 10th Parliamentary elections since the declaration of Moldova’s independence have been presented, emphasizing the findings and recommendations expressed by Promo-LEX experts and participants in the event. During the Post-Election Conference, the participants also discussed about the opportunity of initiating amendments to the Electoral Code and related laws.
Even if in 2019 the electoral law was amended and the country returned to the proportional system, the early Parliamentary Elections of 11 July 2021 were marked by some problems (for instance: misuse of administrative resources, failure to regulate the organised transportation of voters on the election day, lack of mechanisms to combat hate speech in electoral campaigns) which have perpetuated from one election to another. Regrettably, the Parliament failed to find solutions for these problems (although a draft law – No 263 of 19.06.2020 was debated and passed in the first reading even before the 2020 Presidential elections). In addition, new problems emerged, such as delay in funding the organisation and conduct of elections, uncertainties regarding the establishment of polling stations for voters in the transnistrian region and abroad, superficial approach to solving electoral disputes, as well as ambiguities regarding the authenticity of the declarations of assets and interests filed by candidates for the position of Member of Parliament.
As a whole, the Central Electoral Commission activity was appreciated by Promo-LEX Observation Mission as efficient in terms of organising the election. Particularly, we would like to note that, despite the delay in fully funding the early elections, CEC managed to honour its obligations to election officials and other stakeholders involved in ensuring proper conduct of the elections. However, when speaking about the decision-making process within CEC, the suspicions about alleged political interference with certain CEC decisions cannot be overlooked. The allegations refer especially to the establishment of polling stations in the transnistrian region and abroad – a process that was discontinuous, without any public consultations and without a sound rationale for the decisions taken. In this regard, we remind about the insufficient and inappropriate collaboration between CEC and MFAEI, as well as CEC’s failure to take a responsible attitude towards the issue of organised transportation of voters on the election day.
On the other hand, the examination of complaints both by CEC and courts is still a problem of the electoral process in the Republic of Moldova. The large amount of rejected/returned complaints or complaints declared inadmissible severely affects the level of confidence in the accuracy of procedures, both among contenders and the whole society. CEC did not approve any decision on the examined complaints, but only responded by letters. Thus, the complainants were deprived of their right to an effective remedy and the right to benefit from a process with the participation of both parties.
The monitoring of early Parliamentary Elections of 11 July 2021 confirmed again that hate speech is constantly present in public space and media in the Republic of Moldova. Regrettably, we find that this phenomenon is still neither regulated, nor sanctioned.
During the electoral period 390 cases of hate speech and incitement to discrimination were identified, of which 299 cases were in electoral context. Criteria on which the hate speech and incitement to discrimination were based included mainly: political affiliation, sex/gender, sexual orientation/gender identity, age, opinion.
Another aspect monitored by Promo-LEX Association and discussed during the event referred to low level of transparency of electoral campaign funding. According to the presented report, about 32% (MDL 12,855,043) of total expenses of the electoral contenders were not reported to CEC. The most unreported expenses were related to printed and promotional materials (34%), followed by delegation/secondment of people (31%), offices (13%) and staff remuneration (11%).
From the total unreported expenses, Promo-LEX found that, about 26% – can be assigned to BECS, 24% – to PPS, 12% – to PDM and PAS each, 7% – to BERU, 6% – to PPCC, 5% – to PPPDA, 3% – to PACE, 2% – to PUN, 1% – to AUR and PDCM each, and 1% – to other 10 electoral contenders.
The election day was calm, the voting process was organized efficiently, and most PSs were opened and closed according to regulations. Parallel vote counting results conducted by Promo-LEX Association did not indicate major differences between CEC final data and Observation Mission final data.
However, during the election day observers noticed and reported a series of incidents that have already become ‘traditional’ for elections in the Republic of Moldova, such as: taking pictures of the ballot papers and other violations of secret of vote (108 cases); presence of advertising materials, electoral billboards and posters in the vicinity of the polling station (57 cases) and interruption of the video taping of the electoral procedures during the election day (53 cases). At the same time, suspicions around the offering of rewards (17) and organised voter transportation (29) were particularly related to the electoral process in the transnistrian region.
Overall, during the election day Promo-LEX observers reported 601 cases, 480 of which were qualified as incidents by the central team of the Observation Mission.