Moldova

Promo-LEX analysis on the possibility of holding a Republican referendum on the day of the parliamentary elections

The Promo-LEX Association notes that the holding of a consultative referendum on the same day with the parliamentary elections of 24 February 2019 is not based on an explicit legal framework. Furthermore, the Constitutional Court issued a negative opinion on the subject of merging such polls. Additionally, the political interests of the party that proposed the initiative is evident.

Promo-LEX points out that the merger initiative will unduly increase the costs of the exercise, will substantially complicate the organization and conduct of the elections, and will create unfair conditions for competitors / participants. In this case, we refer to such important technical aspects as:

- doubling the number of constituency councils;
- complicating the procedures of vote counting, aggregation and reporting of results;
- the probability of creating unfair conditions with regard to the beginning of electoral campaign;
- creating unfair financial conditions for electoral competitors by opening an additional Electoral Fund account for the same electoral party / bloc, which also acquires the status of a participant in the referendum;
- the possibility of avoiding financial reporting for parliamentary elections by camouflaging costs and expenses for two types of elections.

We remind the reader that one of the issues - the revocation of deputies - is unconstitutional, contrary to international practice and technically impossible to implement under the current system of election of deputies.

As for the second issue - the reduction of number of deputies- we attest to a consensus among the most numerous factions in the Parliament (the PDM and the PSRM), from which we conclude that this modification could be debated and adopted by the legislature without holding a costly public consultation with uncertain results. 26 The Law for the Adoption of the Parliament's Regulation no. 797-XIII of 02.04.1996.

In line with the conclusions of the Constitutional Court, Promo-LEX shares the view that the merger of two distinct types of voting will make the voting procedure more difficult, particularly in the context of the implementation of a new electoral system that involves two ballots, which is to be supplemented by another two.

Promo-LEX reiterates that by initiating a consultative referendum on issues that are rather of political than of public interest on the same day with parliamentary elections, the initiator of the referendum violates the principle of equal opportunities. The PDM will have both the status of an electoral contender and that of a participant in the referendum. The party will have two separate Electoral Fund accounts. Even if other parties will also have the status of a participant in the referendum, the image of the PDM will be more heavily present, once it assumes the role of the initiator of the referendum.

Promo-LEX suggests the following recommendations to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova:

1. Not to legalize the conduct of the Republican referendum on the same day with the parliamentary elections of 24 February 2019.

2. To amend the legislation in conformity with the Referral of the Constitutional Court, namely: "taking into account the necessity of observing the 6-month term for the revision of the Constitution, removing by legislative means the ambiguities in the Electoral Code regarding the possibility of merging the elections and the referendum."

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