Promo-LEX Association published its Second Report of of its Observation Mission of the early Parliamentary Elections of 11 July 2021. The report contains electoral findings reported by observers between 12 and 25 May 2021.
The main aspects covered by the report:
Perpetuated Trends in the Election Campaign
As of 26 May 2021, CEC registered eight contenders (six parties and two electoral blocs), and another two applications are under review. The minimum gender representation quota (40%) was respected by all candidates. In all eight cases, the positioning of the candidates on the lists was done in compliance with the legal provisions, at least four candidates for every ten places.
Promo-LEX found that most of the contenders started campaigning without registering their trustees. At the same time, some (potential) electoral contenders started campaigning before the official campaigning period has begun. At least 121 (BECS) cases were reported that could be considered to be use of state resources.
Additionally, at least 2 cases were reported that could be qualified as electoral gifts (BECS – 1, BERU – 1), as well as one case that can be regarded as involving the President of the Republic of Moldova in the campaigning for an electoral contender (PAS).
4 times less spending allowed by contenders compared to 2019 parliamentary elections
During the reporting period, CEC established the general threshold of MDL 20,707,700 for the funds that can be transferred on the ‘Electoral Fund’ account of the electoral contender and of the initiative group, which is four times less than for the 2019 Parliamentary Elections (MDL 86,871,856). The significant difference between the amounts established in 2019 and 2021 was caused by the amendments made to the Electoral Code (August 2019) and the set threshold of 0.05% of the forecast revenue of the state budget for the respective year.
According to observers, as of 25 May 2021, no reports of political parties that intend to transfer funds to their "Electoral Fund" account were published on the CEC website. Only PAS presented information on the opening their ‘Electoral Fund’ account, the deadline for publishing the information being 26 May 2021.
Pre-registration – a tool by which citizens can influence the number and geography of polling stations
The number of preliminary registrations increased by about 40,000 compared to the presidential elections of November 2020. According to Promo-LEX estimates, in the last two weeks, in at least 8 countries, the number of polling stations changed only on the basis of the indicator regarding the number of preliminary registrations.
As regards the distribution of polling stations (PS) per country, according to Promo-LEX estimates and taking into account the 150 PS budgeted by CEC as a basis for calculating the number of PS, the highest number of polling stations will be established in Italy (28), Russian Federation (21), Germany (13), United Kingdom (11), France (9) and Romania (9).
Also, based on the 191 PS proposed by MFAEI, the highest number of PS will be established in Italy (37), Russian Federation (29), Germany (17), United Kingdom (16), France (12) and Romania (11).
Risks to the smooth organisation and conduct of the election
Promo-LEX draws the attention to some uncertainties related to the constitutionality of Article 51(4) of the Electoral Code. This refers to the prohibition to hold candidates to account or impose any sanctions during the electoral period without the consent of the electoral body that registered them. Given that a provision with the exact same form and content as Article 51(4) of the Electoral Code has been declared previously non-constitutional, Promo-LEX believes that the above article should not and may not be applied by authorities, and the electoral contenders may not use these safeguards.
Promo-LEX also underscores that, though the election organisation and electoral campaigning have already started, clear measures for preventing and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the electoral context have not yet been approved. The lack of such measures increases the risk of higher COVID-19 infection rates.
There is also no Government Decision to ensure full coverage of expenses for the organisation of the early parliamentary elections. We reiterate the concern related to the uncertainty in the central public authorities’ capacity to identify enough funds for a smooth conduct of the elections.
During the monitored period, the Central Electoral Commission approved 63 decisions, including one regulation, and two others were adjusted to the legal norms specific to the proportional system. At the same time, according to Promo-LEX, at least five more CEC regulations need to be adapted to the amendments to the Electoral Code.
According to our findings, during the current elections the LPAs again ignore their duties to appoint members of electoral bodies. Promo-LEX identified at least seven DEC II (19%) with no members appointed by level-two LPAs.
Another election affected by incitement to hate and discrimination
On the basis of the information submitted by monitors between 11 and 24 May 2021, Promo-LEX identified at least 23 cases of hate speech and incitement to discrimination in the public space, in the media and in the online environment of the Republic of Moldova.
Thus, six electoral contenders/politicians used non-tolerant expressions: Renato Usatii (BERU) – five cases and Vladimir Voronin (BECS), Octavian Ț (BE PUN), Vasile Bolea (BECS) and Vladimir Odnostalco (BECS) – one case each.
Of the 23 cases of hate speech or incitement to discrimination identified, 9 cases targeted contenders/potential contenders/politicians: Vladimir Voronin (BECS) – 2 cases, Maia Sandu (President of the Republic of Moldova) – 2 cases, Natalia Albot (activist and journalist on the electoral list of PAS, who withdrew her candidacy on 21.05.2021 / 2 cases), Igor Dodon (BECS), Dumitru Diacov (PDM) and Vasile Bolea (BECS) – one case each.
A recording (with English interpretation) of Promo-LEX's press conference presenting this report can be watched below.