Igor Boțan: Electoral contenders should leave animosities aside, while voters should not yield to intimidation

The electoral contenders should leave animosities aside because they will have to hold discussions in one form or another after the elections. If they antagonize each other further, they will make the post-electoral process much more difficult. At the same time, the citizens should not be afraid and should not yield to intimidation as the secrecy of their vote is ensured, standing expert of IPN’s project Igor Boțan said in the public debate “Stake of free and fair elections. Who ensures them, who respects them?” that was the 97th instalment of the series of debates “Developing political culture through public debates” organized by IPN Agency and Radio Moldova.

Igor Boțan noted that since 1993 and every time it was asked, the Venice Commission has maintained its positions that disapproved of the electoral system in the conditions in the Republic of Moldova. In particular, the single-member constituencies were shaped so that the number of voters is very different. Only 5,000 voters could take part in some of the constituencies and even 120,000 voters could take part in others. In 2017, when the Moldovan authorities insisted on the mixed electoral system, the Venice Commission added to its arguments that fact that those with sacks of money simply buy the elections, according to studies.

As regards the recent resolution adopted by the European Parliament on Moldova, Igor Boțan said such a document is always based on the documents of expert organizations, such as the Venice Commission and the OSCE. The Moldova – EU Association Agreement clearly provides that in their political assessments related to election management and adoption of legislation, the EU institutions, in strict compliance with their regulations, use only the expertise of specialized institutions, and there should be no speculations here.

“It is wrong to believe that the invalidation of the elections held in the municipality of Chisinau made the Europeans adopt such a harsh resolution. One cannot draw conclusions about a process like the electoral one based on an electoral event. If there are two such events, one can do it. If there are three events, one can definitely do it and if there are four such events, one is obliged to do it. So, the invalidation was just the last drop,” stated the expert.

According to him, in a report on human rights in Moldova for 2018, reference is made to the parliamentary elections of 2014, when an election runner was excluded from the electoral race for the first time, to the participation in elections by clone parties that stole votes. Four criminal cases and four administrative cases were started against the party that was excluded two days before the elections of 2014 and this party went to the ECHR, while the clone party wasn’t removed despite approaches made by those affected. There was also the case of judge Domnica Manole who continues to be persecuted.

Igor Boțan said the dominant parties are those that gain 40% and up of preferences in polls. The Party of Socialists can get such a score, while the Democratic Party showed that it can get 15-16% if it mobilizes itself, but now it can obtain many votes as this party has complete power. The Party of Socialists is on friendly terms with the Orthodox Church and this is one more important weapon in favor of the dominant party. The PDM converted mayors and these are its main electoral agents.

As to the annulment of electoral silence, the expert said these provisions could remain non-adopted if President Igor Dodon wants this. The President has two weeks to promulgate the law and this period could end later than November 30, when the current Parliament’s mandate expires. Also, under the Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters of the Venice Commission, the Election Code should not be amended during one year before the elections. This can be an argument for the President not to promulgate this law.

The debate “Stake of free and fair elections. Who ensures them, who respects them?” forms part of the series of public debates staged by IPN News Agency and Radio Moldova as part of the project “Developing political culture through public debates” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany.

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