The second round for mayoral runoff elections was conducted in an overall efficient manner, mostly in line with Moldovan legislation and international standards. However, the lack of clear legal provisions for the second round and the late regulations have left a significant amount of uncertainties in the electoral process, and minor irregularities were observed on election day, but none of the above seemed to affect the legitimacy of the process or the results of the election. These are the preliminary conclusions of ENEMO international observation mission (European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations).
At an IPN press conference, the Head of the Mission, Mr. Dritan Taulla, has stated that the lack of clarity in the provisions leaves room for subjective or incoherent interpretation of the law by EMBs. "The legal framework provides conditions for holding democratic elections, as the conduct of the first round of elections has already demonstrated. However, the Electoral Code does not clearly regulate several aspects of the second round. Although the CEC undertook steps to regulate some of these aspects, some of them have remained unregulated,” explained Mr. Dritan Taulla.
According to the Head of ENEMO Mission to Moldova, the CEC worked in a collegial manner, held regular public sessions, and its decisions were overall published in due time on its website, in line with the legal provisions. "The Commission operated in accordance with its mandate, and its performance during the period between the first and second rounds was mostly efficient and overall transparent. However, ENEMO notes that some key election data were not readily available,” added Mr. Dritan Taulla.
Mr. Pierre Peytier, Deputy Head of Mission, has said that despite the campaign being conducted in a generally free environment, there are concerns about several instances of "black PR" and negative campaigning targeted at candidates, especially on social media, in the form of hate speech, discrediting and ad hominem verbal attacks, which sharply increased in the second round.
"In spite of the Government's attempts to limit the misuse of administrative resources, ENEMO notes the involvement of high state officials and MPs openly supporting mayoral candidates from their respective parties in the second round, during campaign events or on their social media pages. Although no explicit provisions regarding the above are contained in the Electoral Code, the blurring of the line between the state and party, which is at odds with the international standards and creates an unleveled playing field, raises concerns,” stated Mr. Pierre Peytier.
ENEMO notes that the timeframes or adjudicating complaints challenging the results of the first round overlap with the two-week timeframe between the two rounds, which might present an obstacle to the right to appeal, at odds with international standards. „Election Day was, overall, calm and peaceful. The management of the polling process and conduct of PECs was assessed positively in the majority of observed polling stations, despite isolated cases of campaigning in the vicinity of polling stations, a few malfunctions in SIAS-E, instances of violations of the secrecy of the vote, lack of transparency at a few polling stations and DECs observed, and other minor incidents not affecting the overall legitimacy of the process or results”, mentioned Mr. Pierre Peytier.
Ms. Maja Milikic, press officer of ENEMO Mission, has mentioned that the statement is based on ENEMO mission observations and findings during the pre-election period, period between two rounds and on election day. ENEMO stresses that this statement is preliminary in nature, as the official results are yet to be announced and submitted complaints are still to be addressed. ENEMO will issue the final report in December, and it will also contain recommendations.
The European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) is an international network of 21 leading non-profit, non-partisan and non-governmental organizations from 17 countries. The current mission is the 30th international ENEMO mission and the third one in the Republic of Moldova.
ENEMO’s international observation mission is financially supported by the European Union and the Embassy of the Netherlands.