Fundamental freedoms key to democratic elections were largely respected, OSCE/ODIHR

Moldova’s early parliamentary elections were well managed amidst an improved legal framework and voters were offered a wide choice of alternatives, but concerns over the impartiality of the election authorities undermined trust while inadequate campaign finance rules left potential breaches unaddressed, international observers said in a statement today, IPN reports.

The joint observation mission from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly (OSCE PA), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and the European Parliament (EP) found that the legal framework forms a sound basis for democratic elections to take place. However, further improvements are needed, particularly to legislation dealing with complaints and appeals, as well as campaign finance oversight.

“We have observed a vibrant campaign in the run-up to this vote, and Moldova clearly has a sound basis to hold democratic elections, both in terms of legislation and technical preparation,” said Tamas Meszerics, Head of the ODIHR election observation mission. “More is still needed though to ensure a process that is fully in line with the democratic commitments the country has signed up to, building trust with the people of Moldova in the long term.”

According to Tamás Meszerics, there were noticed cases of organized transportation of voters, while some of the voters photographed the ballot papers. OSCE expects these actions will be investigated correspondingly. At the same time, the impartiality of the judicial and election authorities was called into question by their handling of electoral disputes.

Ditmir Bushati, Special Coordinator and leader of the short-term OSCE observer mission, said election day itself was calm and transparent, and the process was found to be overwhelmingly positive despite isolated cases of overcrowding. “Today, a new process begins. We now look forward to working closely with our colleagues in the new Moldovan parliament to find solutions to the shortcomings we have identified and deliver concrete results for the people of Moldova.”

“We compliment the Moldovan people on these elections, which ran smoothly and peacefully despite the deep polarization and negative campaigning that preceded election day. Serious work now lies ahead to form a government that is able and willing to undertake the reforms that Moldovans are asking for, particularly concerning the deeply-rooted corruption and the lack of independence of the judiciary,” said Stefan Schennach, Head of the PACE delegation.

The campaign atmosphere was generally calm, and the fundamental freedoms key to democratic elections were largely respected. The deeply polarized environment did not prevent substantial campaign themes from being discussed, including the economy, the fight against corruption, social and welfare issues, and judicial reform. The media played an important role during the campaign period. Numerous television debates broadcast nationwide allowed all parties to communicate their policies as well as provided information to voters. However, the bias of major media outlets due to their party affiliation weakened media safeguards on political pluralism.

“I am glad that Moldova could organize and run these important elections efficiently and smoothly, as was clearly observed in polling stations, despite the continued challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Pia Kauma, Head of the OSCE PA Delegation. “However, when looking at the electoral process as a whole, some shortcomings, including on campaign finance oversight and election dispute resolution, need to be addressed to enhance transparency and further reinforce trust in the system.”

“We call on all stakeholders to show political maturity and responsibility and give priority to the country's interests. The result of this election should be a starting point from which the new government should accelerate genuine and ambitious reforms,” said David McAllister, Head of the EP delegation. “We will follow post-electoral developments closely and we'll be ready to support the people of Moldova in implementing all the necessary reforms.

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