on the organization of the debate “Why wasn’t the Constitutional Court heard in the problem of presidential elections?”. Developing Political Culture through Public Debates”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 11 May 2020, Debate No.132 brought together: Pavel Postica, programs director of Promo-LEX Association; Vadim Pistrinciuc, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policies and Initiatives and IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan.
The IPN project’s standing expert Igor Boțan said that earlier today President Igor Dodon announced that he will propose that Parliament should set the presidential elections for November 1. This way, the electoral period is to start on September 1. There are yet a number of problems that need to be solved by the common effort of Parliament, the Central Election Commission, civil society, etc. “As all these institutions will play a role in this election campaign and in this electoral process. And we all want this electoral process to be free and fair,” said the executive director of the Association for Participatory Democracy ADEPT.
According to him, on November 13, 2016, as a result of the runoffs, Igor Dodon was elected President of the Republic of Moldova. In a month, the Constitutional Court, validating the election results, formulated six recommendations. “This way, the Court noticed a series of impediments and these recommendations are very important. As a result, the competent institutions that are directly responsible for this area were to inform about the removal of the impediments within three months. After these recommendations were issued, there were two excellent opportunities for solving the problems. I refer to the amendment of the Election Code in July 2017, when the mixed electoral system was introduced. The second opportunity was in August 2019, but many of these problems were overlooked owing to the pressure of circumstances and the lack of time. Now Promo-LEX Association made a public call to combine forces so as to overcome the existing impediments,” stated Igor Boțan.
“One of these six recommendations refer to challenges – the way in which they are dealt with, especially on the election day. The second aspect is voting abroad and the Court insisted that this problem should be solved. The third problem is permission to vote abroad. The fourth is political corruption and rooting out of such noxious practices. The fifth refers to the way in which the Moldovan Metropolitan Church behaved in elections – the Court underlined the aggressive involvement of representatives of the Moldovan Metropolitan Church in the presidential elections. The six recommendation referred to the mass media, which are an instrument for exercising the power of influence on the people’s opinion,” stated Igor Boțan. According to him, it is now the right moment for the problems to be solved by the end of the current parliamentary session, which is by the end of July.
Pavel Postica, programs director of Promo-LEX Association, said that starting with 2017, when they spoke about the amendment of the electoral legislation, the Association drew attention to the Constitutional Court’s recommendations issued in December 2016, which generated a number of questions as to the quality of the electoral process. “Regrettably, even if Promo-LEX since 2017 has rather insistently demanded, both on national platforms and on international platforms, that the authorities should solve these problems, this was done only partially. Only one recommendation was fully dealt with, the one concerning the number of ballots intended for a polling station abroad, this being increased from 3,000 to 5,000,” stated Pavel Postica.
The expert noted that only two of the six recommendations were partially implemented. The first refers to the mechanism and conditions of opening polling stations abroad. The Court held that the two criteria that existed earlier were insufficient and some others should be stipulated. Another matter concerns the corruption of voters that earlier didn’t carry penalties. A rather simple formula was applied and penalties were introduced into the Penal Code, including for the corruption of voters. But the problem of organized transportation of voters remained unsolved. As a result, the quality of the parliamentary elections of February 2019 was affected and this was seen in the two single-member constituencies established for voters from the Transnistrian region.
Vadim Pistrinciuc, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policies and Initiatives, said that regardless of the pandemic situation or the socioeconomic situation, the political players, in particular those who are in power, think about elections. “For example, today President Igor Dodon announced the date when he proposes holding the presidential election. But they forgot about the Court’s recommendations, as they did about the problems related to the presidential elections that were mentioned in the monitoring reports of local organizations and of international organizations. They all say the elections were recognized and thus go on. But the mentioned problems are very important as they refer to punishment itself. Such problems as rigging practices and practices of engaging religious denominations continue because there are no penalty mechanisms besides public reprimand,” he stated.
The Institute’s director noted that legal mechanisms are needed and the lawmakers should institute these if they want to show that they really care about electoral democracy. Nowadays, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, religious denominations, church officials come with contradictory messages over the norms imposed by the Commission for Exceptional Situations during the pandemic. There is no separation of the church from the state power. Moreover, some of the politicians make use of this. Also, there should be punitive measures in relation to broadcasters. “Today, particular TV channels can disseminate flakes, but face no penalty. A reaction can follow only if the Audiovisual Council is notified, but the consequences are close to zero as there is no mechanism for punishment and for immediately implementing the formulated recommendations,” stated Vadim Pstrinciuc.
The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 11.05.20, „ “Why wasn’t Constitutional Court heard in problem of presidential elections? IPN debate” - https://www.ipn.md/en/why-wasnt-constitutional-court-heard-in-problem-of-presidential-elections-ipn-debate-8004_1073430.html; „Pavel Postica: There are questions as to quality of electoral process in Moldova” - https://www.ipn.md/en/pavel-postica-there-are-questions-as-to-quality-of-electoral-8004_1073431.html; „Vadim Pistrinciuc: Penalties for factors that become involved in electoral processes should be clearly defined” - https://www.ipn.md/en/vadim-pistrinciuc-penalties-for-factors-that-become-involved-in-electoral-8004_1073432.html; „Pavel Postica: Future elections could be invalidated by Constitutional Court” - https://www.ipn.md/en/pavel-postica-future-elections-could-be-invalidated-by-constitutional-court-8004_1073435.html; „Vadim Pistrinciuc: Systemic attempts are made to influence elections” - https://www.ipn.md/en/vadim-pistrinciuc-systemic-attempts-are-made-to-influence-elections-8004_1073436.html; „Igor Boțan: Problems related to electoral legislation should be solved during current parliamentary session” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-problems-related-to-electoral-legislation-should-be-solved-8004_1073437.html „Igor Boțan: There are interests for elections to be won by main players” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-there-are-interests-for-elections-to-be-won-8004_1073439.html.
IPN promoted the debate before and after the event, in particular the ensuing news stories, using all the available channels, including social networks. Confirmatory materials of deliverables, as well as a media coverage dossier are attached.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN