Pollster says independents unlikely to enter next parliament

It’s unlikely that any independent candidate will make it into the future parliament, especially since there are no runoffs under the new voting system, Ion Jigău, director of the polling firm CBS Research, told a public discussion focusing on post-election scenarios.

“Political parties have greater mobilizing capacities compared with an independent candidate regardless of the constituency and this makes me believe there won’t be any victorious independents in single-member constituencies. But surprises do happen”, said Ion Jigău, reminiscing about the latest Chisinau mayoral election when the last week and even last day of the race was decisive.

One post-election scenario, thinks Jigău, could be a Socialist government for a period of time, which would “vaccinate the Moldovans against socialism entirely”. At the same time, he recalled that Moldova has seen “unprecedented party-switching, which makes me believe everything will be alright after the elections”.

As Jigău notes, different polls seem to show the same tendencies and all of them agree on the great number of the undecided. “There is this phenomenon called ‘the spiral of silence’, which is characteristic to the greatest extent of the Socialist voting intentions, followed by those of the Democratic Party and the Shor Party, which most likely will clear the 6% threshold. This is why I think these three parties will garner more votes than what polls predict at present. But it’s hard to tell for sure, because there is still the turnout factor, which is the most difficult to estimate. It’s a citizen duty and people usually say they will definitely go out to vote, but the reality is often different”.

Further commenting on the trends shown by the polls, Jigău says he believes the Democrats will outperform the electoral bloc NOW across the national constituency at least. “It’s difficult to tell what will happen in the single-member constituencies because this requires a tremendous polling effort. But in the Public Opinion Barometer we included a question on single-member constituencies and respondents tended to favor the Socialists, followed by the independents and the Democrats.”

Speaking about the overall electoral atmosphere, Ion Jigău notes that we now see a lot of canvassing and direct-contacts campaigning on the ground, something that wasn’t done since the early 1990s. “I hope that under the mixed system new figures will appear in Moldovan politics, because the single-member constituencies did bring up some new faces, which is a good thing per se”, says Jigău, while suggesting that many of these could be intentionally placed spoiler candidates. Still, in the long run the prospect is bright in the pollster’s opinion. “This exercise is beneficial for our emerging politicians, who will gain experience and take along with them a good part of their field staff, thus contributing to the advancement of Moldova’s political culture”.

The debate themed “2019 Elections: Post-election scenarios as seen by experts in political sciences, electoral systems and sociology” is part of the “Developing Political Culture” public debates series held with the support of the German foundation Hanns Seidel.