„The legal framework for elections ensures the conditions for holding of democratic elections, despite several, yet to be addressed, shortcomings that leave space for discretion and can be misused. Most aspects of the electoral process are managed efficiently and within the legal deadlines, but concerns can be raised on potential uneven application of rules aimed at protecting public health on election day. ENEMO assesses the overall campaign environment as competitive and calm; however, electoral messages that aim to discredit the opponents, or go beyond the powers of the presidency can be observed. Elements of a functioners’ campaign are also observed, as numerous public officials openly campaign, or support candidates”. This was stated in the Interim report for the period 1 September - 22 October 2020, published by ENEMO International Election Observation Mission (IEOM) to Moldova.
According to ENEMO observers, the legal framework is mostly in line with international standards and good practices. „However, the electoral legal framework contains shortcomings and lacks clarity on various matters, which leaves space for different interpretations that can be misused, if not undertaken in good faith”, Dritan Taulla, Head of the ENEMO Mission, said in a news conference at IPN.
„Most aspects of the election are managed in line with legal requirements and deadlines, at the central level. The CEC published the agenda of the upcoming sessions in advance and provided draft decisions before each session. The requirement of posting decisions on the website within 24 hours of their adoption is overall respected. A voter information campaign, including in languages of minorities, is being conducted. The CEC established 139 out-of-country polling stations in 36 countries and 42 polling stations for the voters residing on the left bank of the River Nistru”, continues Dritan Taulla.
„Allegations of fake pre-registration for voters registering to vote in the polling stations established in the Russian Federation have emerged and investigations are ongoing. Given the sensitivity of the matter and the negative effect it might have on the overall trust of voters in the election process, ENEMO urges the authorities to conduct these investigations swiftly and professionally”, mention ENEMO Observers.
Observers also drew attention to requirements for candidates, in particular as regards the collection of signatures. „A citizen can sign in support of only one candidate, which could be considered a restriction that challenges political pluralism. The required number of signatures is in line with best practice. The CEC has registered eight candidates and rejected one. The signature lists of two more candidates were challenged, but they were registered after showing that a number of signatures, initially deemed invalid, were instead valid. This has once again brought into attention previous concerns of ENEMO about the signature verification process, showing it to be open to discretion and human error, resulting in possible unjustified prevention of candidates to stand for election”, stated Oleg Reut, Election Analyst.
The electoral campaign can be assessed as peaceful and calm, although instances of negative campaign tactics and offensive language were noticed. „ENEMO EOM noticed instances of use of the advantages of the incumbency or office, possible pressure on employees to attend campaign events, or ecclesiastical authorities involved in campaigning. Main candidates’ messages focused on social and economic issues, the country’s geopolitical orientation, infrastructure projects, and corruption. However, many campaign topics do not fall under the direct jurisdiction of the President”, continued Oleg REUT.
During election day and potential run-off election day, the IEOM will deploy up to 52 short-term observers (STOs) in total to follow the voting, counting, and tabulation of results.
„The mission will issue its preliminary statement on findings and conclusions after Election Day and will remain in the country to also follow the potential run-off election and issue the second preliminary statement after the run-off election day. The final report will be issued within sixty days from the certification of results”, mentioned Ana Mihajlovic, Coordinator Short Term Observers.
ENEMO’s international observation mission for the November 1 Presidential Elections in Moldova is financially supported by the Delegation of the European Union, Government Offices of Sweden, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the National Democratic Institute. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of ENEMO and does not necessarily represent the position of the donors.