Ahead of this Sunday’s run-off presidential election in Moldova, Promo-LEX observers underline the lack of explicit and exhaustive legal provisions in the Electoral Code to regulate the conduct of the second round of elections. The campaign was marked by a rise in hate speech, partially uttered by incumbent Dodon himself, and even calls for violence against his contender, Maya Sandu. Promo-LEX observers also raised concern over the rising number of voters voting at home during the second round, and recorded cases of misuse of state resources, involvement of religious groups in election campaigning, use of undeclared finances, and violations against anti-COVID restrictions during campaigning.
Electoral incidents impacting the campaign
Promo-LEX draws attention to a case that could be interpreted as use of undeclared financial and in-kind resources by candidate Igor Dodon concerning the printing of a large amount of campaign materials, which, according to the data reported to the Central Election Commission, was allegedly not done during the election campaign period.
Observers also warn about the violation of anti-COVID restrictions established by the National Extraordinary Public Health Commission, as two types of events involving large numbers of participants were carried out in support of Igor Dodon. One was a people’s march involving 200 participants, another a ‘car march’ across the country involving 450 cars. Another people’s march is scheduled to take place in Chisinau on 13 November 2020 in support of the same candidate.
The observers also reported two cases of religious groups being involving in the election campaign of candidate Igor Dodon
The contenders continue to use administrative resources
Promo-LEX observers reported at least 142 electoral activities carried out by the two runner-up candidates for the second round of the presidential election. Of them, Igor Dodon (IC) carried out 51% of activities (72), while Maia Sandu (PAS) carried out 49% (70). PSRM continues its active participation in the campaign of independent candidate Igor Dodon.
Also, at least 12 cases that can be regarded as use of administrative resources were found. Out of them, 11 cases featured Igor Dodon (IC), and one case - Maia Sandu (PAS).
At least MDL 500,853 were not reported by the two election contenders
According to reports submitted to the CEC, revenues reported by election contenders between 4-6 November totaled MDL 956 816 (approx. 196 00 EURO). Observers estimate that at least MDL 500 853 (approx. 103 000 EURO) was not reported by the two election contenders for the first week of election campaigning for the second round of the presidential election. Of that amount, Igor Dodon (Independent Candidate) did not report MDL 394,422 (79%), while MDL 106,431 (21%) was not reported by Maia Sandu (PAS).
Promo-LEX also notes that the election contenders continue to not report expenses associated with electioneerers and have not submitted declarations on their volunteer work.
An increase in the number of people wanting to vote at the place of stay, that is at home
Promo-LEX raises concern over the increase in the number of people wanting to vote at home compared to the first round. In this context, observers note that in at least four cases requests to vote at home were collected by unauthorized persons: three cases involved people reported to be electioneerers of candidate Igor Dodon; and one case involved employees of the post office.
Electoral bodies’ failure to comply with protection requirements
Although slight improvements were noticed in terms of the extent to which district election commissions (DECs) comply with the epidemiological requirements, the fact that not all DECs observe the pandemic-related requirements is worrying: 5 (14%) councils do not have a register for monitoring the temperature of electoral officials; at least 8 (22%) DECs do not measure visitors’ temperature; 2 DECs (6%) do not display any information about health protection rules during the pandemic. Unfortunately, precinct electoral bureaus (PEBs) were similarly found to not comply with protection requirements.
The second round affected by hate speech and incitement to discrimination
Of a total of 51 reported cases, Igor Dodon used this type of speech in 7 cases. At least 34 cases were recorded of using hate messages and/or incitement to violence against the PAS candidate Maia Sandu (26 cases) and the independent candidate Igor Dodon (8 cases) by politicians, journalists, opinion leaders or candidates’ supporters. In 10 other cases, this type of speech targeted members of political parties and/or supporters of candidates, as well as public officials, politicians, and voters in general.
A full recording of Promo-LEX's press briefing can be watched with English interpretation below.