Promo-LEX: Recent legislative changes create substantial ambiguities for participants in the electoral process
On 20 October, nation-wide Local elections will take place in Moldova. Furthermore, Parliamentary elections are scheduled in four constituencies, where the deputies previously resigned.
Promo-Lex sees the introduction of amendments to the Electoral Code during the electoral period as having a negative impact on the correctness and predictability of the electoral process
In the one of the latest reports of the Promo-LEX Observation Mission, Promo-LEX has stated that it is concerned about the modification of some legislative acts, by Law no. 113/2019, which has been made during the electoral period. The changes deal with such fundamental aspects as: electoral campaigning, financing of electoral campaigns, designation and registration of competitors, etc. It should be mentioned that the organization of electoral process is burdensome and accompanied by uncertainties, given that the amendments of the Electoral Code entered into force 15 days after the beginning of the electoral period for the parliamentary by-elections and only 2 days before the beginning of the electoral period for general local elections.
In addition, certain provisions, including on the financing of electoral campaigns, will be applied differently to the two elections to he held on October 20, 2019, the parliamentary by-elections taking place predominantly under the old electoral law, and the general ones based on the new legislation.
The modification of the legislation on the financing of electoral campaign requires the CEC to publish the place of work of the donors indicated in the financial reports
The new legal provisions regulate in detail the quality of donor of persons holding high positions, civil servants, including those with a special status, or those employed in public organizations, by expressly limiting the donated amounts. In this respect, Promo-LEX draws the attention of the CEC to the fact that the donor’s workplace should be made public in the financial reports, since only in this way, the citizens and investigative journalists will be able to monitor the amounts donated by the civil servants. And only in this way, given the current circumstances, the legal rules can be implemented.
Increasing number of activities with electoral tinge, continued misuse of administrative resources
In the context of the Parliamentary by-elections, Promo-LEX OM noticed the increased activism of potential MP candidates in single member constituencies, with 41 initiative groups being registered. Of them, 68% of the candidates are nominated by political parties and an electoral bloc. Only two subjects with the right to designate candidates – ACUM Electoral Bloc and the PLR – have candidates for all 4 constituencies.
The Promo-LEX OM also found at least 4 situations that can be qualified as involvement of the President of the Republic of Moldova, Igor Dodon, in promoting the PSRM and its potential candidates for the general local elections.
Restricting the right to vote of citizens who do not have a place of domicile or residence
Paradoxically, although the CEC approved the reduction of councilor mandates in some second and first level local councils due to the decreasing population in the respective regions, Promo-LEX continues to witness an increase in the number of voters registered in the State Registry of Voters, especially those without a place of domicile or residence.
Also, the Promo-LEX OM points out that the probability of restricting the constitutional right to elect in the local and parliamentary elections of October 20, 2019 of voters who do not have a domicile or residence (their number exceeds 200 thousand) is real.
Reduced accessibility to the premises of level II DECs and lack of public information affects the confidence of population
Promo-LEX OM found that of the 35 DECs II opened, only 66% displayed data on the membership of DEC II and only 71% displayed their working hours in visible places at their headquarters. The OM also found a relatively balanced situation in terms of gender balance within the DEC II. However, women holding the position of president of DEC II, are in the minority, accounting for 40%. Offices of only 7 DECs II (20%) can be considered accessible under the conditions provided by the CEC normative acts.
Read the full second report of the Promo-LEX OM here
In Promo-LEX's third OM report it finds a precarious situation in observing the working hours by electoral officials, a failure to declare all the campaign expenses and involvement of foreign persons in electoral activities
The Promo-LEX OM ascertained that compared to the previous reporting period, the number of activities to promote designated/ registered candidates increased by about four times, reaching a total of 158. Of these, 99 were carried out by the PSRM, 19 – by the PPS and 9 – by ACUM Bloc, etc. The most used types of activities were: distribution of informative materials and meetings with citizens.
There were reported at least 4 cases that can be qualified as offering of goods during the electoral period, of which three – in the context of general local elections and one – in that of the parliamentary by-elections. Of these, the PN was targeted in two cases, the PPR – in one case, and the PUN in one case.
Misuse of administrative resources is also increasing in number.
Additionally, observers reported 4 cases, where the image of personalities from abroad were used to promote the candidates, all of them targeting the Romanian politician Traian Basescu and the PUN.
The Observation Mission ascertains actions that undermine the transparency of electoral campaign financing
In the period of 6- 20 September, 2019, the total volume of revenues declared by 7 competitors registered for the general local elections reached 9,910 132 lei and the amount of expenses reported by 5 of them – 2,487 103 lei; the final balance being – 7,423 029 lei. The major share of declared expenses falls for advertising – 74%, promotional materials – 12%, expenses for meetings and events – 8%, the use of transportation- 4%; other expenses – 2%.
Promo-LEX warns of situations that undermine the transparency of the financing of electoral campaign, such as the transfer of 5,59 million lei from the current account of the PSRM to the electoral one, without indicating who de facto made the contribution, or donations ranging from 5 to 15 thousand lei from some pensioners made in favor of the PPS and the PN.
Cases of hate speech and discrimination in electoral campaign
Based on the information reported by the monitors, Promo-LEX identified at least five cases in which electoral competitors generated discriminatory messages or other forms of intolerance in the public space, of which: the PL – two cases, and ACUM, the PN and the PLDM one each.
On the other hand, the competitor targeted in hate speech is – the PPS candidate.
Analyzing the situation in terms of criteria underlying hate speech, Promo-LEX noticed that in two cases, gender prejudices and stereotypes were used, and in other two – prejudices related to people’s ethnicity. Additionally, we identified a case involving intolerance to LGBT people and to people with mental disabilities, in one situation, incitement to violence was registered.