INTERNATIONAL ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION Republic of Moldova, Early Parliamentary Elections, 11 July 2021
STATEMENT OF PRELIMINARY FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS
The 11 July early parliamentary elections were well administered, competitive and fundamental freedoms were largely respected. While lower-level commissions enjoyed trust, key decisions of the Central Election Commission brought into question its impartiality. Candidates had ample opportunities to campaign and voters were provided a wide range of alternatives. The lack of effective campaign finance oversight left potential breaches unaddressed. Numerous televised debates allowed voters to be informed of contestants’ policies, but the majority of monitored news outlets displayed bias. The legal framework does not adequately regulate electoral dispute resolution, and the handling of electoral complaints further highlighted the importance of strengthening judicial independence. Election day was calm, transparent and the process was assessed overwhelmingly positively despite isolated cases of overcrowding and non adherence to procedures.
The legal framework is generally conducive for the conduct of democratic elections. The parliament’s 101 members were elected under a proportional representation system, which was reintroduced more than one year prior to its application and following an inclusive consultation process, in line with international good practice. Some key aspects of the electoral framework were also revised, including the lowering of thresholds for parties and blocs and strengthening the gender quota for candidate lists by introducing a placement requirement, in line with previous ODIHR and the Venice Commission recommendations. While some previous ODIHR and Venice Commission’s recommendations were addressed in recent amendments, further improvements are needed in particular to the legal framework on the complaints and appeals process and campaign finance oversight.
The technical preparations for these early elections were managed efficiently, respecting the legal deadlines. Despite the concern that the budget requested by the Central Election Commission (CEC) for these elections was only partly granted by the government, this did not appear to affect the overall operation of the election administration. The election administration enjoyed trust of the election stakeholders in their technical abilities. Decisions regarding the number of polling stations to be established abroad and for voters residing in localities on the left bank of the Nistru river (Transnistria) as well as the issue of voter transportation raised questions about impartiality of the CEC. In deciding on these matters, CEC members appeared to follow partisan lines, diminishing the neutrality and collegiality of the commission. The CEC’s inclusive registration of local and international observers enhanced the transparency of the electoral process.
The centralized voter register is maintained and updated by the CEC, based on data extracted from the state population register. Citizens over the age of 18 are eligible to vote. The deprivation of right to vote by a court decision for those with mental disabilities is inconsistent with international standards. The legal framework ensures the transparency and accessibility of voter lists, and voters had sufficient opportunity to request corrections of their details and submit complaints on inaccuracies in the lists. While the majority of interlocutors were content with the transparency and accuracy of the voter register, the long-standing problem of deceased people on the voter lists remained.