Igor Botan: There is concern that election invalidation situation will repeat


There is a problem related to society’s concern that the situation concerning the invalidation of the Chisinau mayoral elections will repeat. Solutions to this problem are being looked for. It is believed that there are legislative solutions, related to the interpretation of the Election Code’s norms concerning electoral agitation. There is also another solution-proposal according to which the Constitutional Court could interpret particular notions and could swiftly, elegantly and easily remove any fear that such things could happen in the future, Igor Botan, executive director of the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT, stated in the public debate “Legislative and political, internal and external solutions to the conflict situation generated by invalidation of Chisinau elections”, which was the 92nd installment of the series “Developing political culture by public debates” staged by IPN News Agency.

According to Igor Botan, there is also a big political problem related to the dissatisfaction existing in society, among the opposition parties and the citizens who protest. Moldova’s relations with the EU are another problem and the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on July 5 this year confirms this and underscores a number of questions. The people’s will is the basis of the state power. This will is expressed by free and fair elections. “For the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, with their political culture, and for the development partners, the elections are a crucial moment because they help realize the people’s will. A mistake was made here and things thus degraded dramatically,” noted the standing expert of IPN’s project.

Igor Botan said the Constitution and the electoral legislation enable to hold free and fair elections. The problem resides in the justice system, starting with the ordinary courts of law and ending with the supreme courts that made common cause and upheld the election invalidation decision. “The problem is simple. If the judge reached the conclusion that the election outcome was influenced and had, as this said, an Appeals Court judgement on agitation on the election day, it was easy to take a decision. If the elections were influenced, they should tell us how. Did the agitation influence somehow the turnout of voters? No, because there is an election threshold. There are no reasons for arbitrarily adopting an election invalidation decision, especially when the court had to abide by the Constitutional Court judgment of 2016, which clearly says that not any fraud can lead to the invalidation of elections,” he stated.

According to the expert, two initiatives were launched as a result of the invalidation of elections. A working group was set up under the Parliament’s legal commission for appointments and immunities to interpret the Election Code. Also, a group of MPs submitted an application to the CC, asking this to interpret the constitutional norms concerning the rule of law through the angle of another constitutional court regarding the citizens’ active and passive right to vote. The High Court was also asked to determine what happened to its requests to Parliament that were ignored and to synthetize its earlier judgements on the invalidation of elections and say if the common law courts can decide not to validate the elections in the absence of challenges from citizens or election runners.

Referring in this connection to the relations with the foreign partners, Igor Botan said Moldova has contractual obligations with the EU through the Association Agreement and the memorandum for providing macro-financial assistance, which specifies the political conditions that should be met. When the Chisinau mayoral elections were invalidated, the EU could not neglect such a deviation and penalized Moldova given that the elections are a crucial area through which the power is elected.

In another development, the expert said electoral agitation in four of five countries is allowed on the election day. The “silence day” in Moldova was introduced for the purpose of maintaining public order near polling places. The politicians do not initiate a platform for discussions to identify in concert solutions to the situation generated by the invalidation of elections as these have interpersonal animosities that leave an imprint. This points to the degradation of the political climate in the country. The different instruments and interests of different political players are another reason. These prevent the politicians from having common discussions.

The debate “Legislative and political, internal and external solutions to the conflict situation generated by invalidation of Chisinau elections” forms part of the series of public debates staged by IPN News Agency and Radio Moldova within the project “Developing political culture by public debates” that is supported by the German Hanns Seidel Foundation.