Chisinau, 22 October 2019 - The European Network of Election Monitoring Organizations (ENEMO) preliminarily assesses that elections were held in a calm and generally competitive environment, despite legal shortcomings in the Electoral Code.
This was stated at the press conference held at the News Agency IPN where ENEMO presented its preliminary statement.
Mr. Dritan Taulla, Head of ENEMO Mission to Moldova said: “Excessive requirements in the law for the registration of self-nominated candidates are at odds with international standards, and concerns could be raised regarding inconsistent grounds for rejection of independent candidates, which may have affected the principle of equal opportunity.''
ENEMO assesses the recently adopted amendments as overall positive and in line with international standards and best practices for democratic elections, while also noting that amending the legal framework nearly two months before an election is not a recommended practice, as it negatively affects the stability of the law.
Mr. Taulla added: “CEC sessions were generally conducted in a collegial, open and transparent manner. The CEC published the agenda of the upcoming sessions in advance and provided draft decisions upon request”.
The CEC and DECs operated effectively and in a timely manner to organize the elections. ENEMO considers changes in the composition of DECs and PEBs on the eve of the elections challenged the work of some of the electoral commissions, although it did not seem to significantly affect the process in a negative way. Levels of knowledge of PEB members of opening, counting and tabulation procedures, as well as the transfer of electoral materials, varied.
Regarding registration of self-nominated candidates, “the ENEMO EOM observed that the process of signature collection was significantly problematic in a number of cases, due to provisions of the law lacking clarity and leaving space for different interpretations by different levels of EMBs and courts. The EOM considers restrictions and discrimination of independent candidates regarding their right to stand for election as conflicting with international standards and best practices”, said Mr. Dritan Taulla, Head of ENEMO Mission.
Mr. Pierre Peytier, Deputy Head of Mission said: “A number of DECs registered lists that, at the time of submission and acceptance, did not fulfill the gender quota for local councils. For registration of party lists, DECs followed the Decision and template provided by the CEC which contained misleading instructions, leading DECs to make incorrect calculations on the number of women candidates required per list”.
No specific messages targeting women policies were noted during the campaigning, while media monitoring reports of domestic organizations have shown a low presence of women in campaign-related news.
Although the electoral campaign was overall inclusive, ENEMO preliminary assesses that provisions on campaigning rules in the legal framework are at times unclear, and leave excessive space for loopholes, abusable by electoral constants in bad faith.
“ENEMO raises concerns regarding the direct involvement of incumbent mayors and government officials in campaigning and notes that this issue remains insufficiently sanctioned in the legal framework. ENEMO also raises concerns that both uneven timeframes for campaigning among electoral contestants and early campaigning affected the principle of equal opportunity”, stated Mr. Peytier.
“ENEMO interlocutors raised concerns about “shadow funding” of electoral campaigns, namely discrepancies between reported campaign funds and actual campaigning activities and related expenses. ENEMO notes a lack of strong oversight mechanisms to verify compliance of electoral constants with the financial requirements of the law”, explained Mr. Peytier.
Additionally, ENEMO assesses that a number of contestants have insufficiently used the available dispute resolution mechanisms, reportedly due to lack of resources and lack of confidence on the effectiveness of the resolution system. Moreover, ENEMO notes that a number of decisions on the complaints issued by lower level EMBs failed to mention the competent body and deadlines for complaining against their decisions, which is at odds with international standards.
“Election Day was, overall, calm and peaceful. The overall management of the polling and conduct of PECs was assessed positively in the majority of observed polling stations, despite isolated cases of overcrowding, violation of the secrecy of the vote, and other minor incidents at a few polling stations observed, not affecting the overall legitimacy of the process or the results”, concluded Mr. Taulla.
Ms. Maja Milikic, Press Officer of ENEMO Mission stated: “This statement is based on ENEMO mission observations and findings during the pre-election period 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 continue to follow the election process and observe the second round of elections. ENEMO will issue the final report in December”.
ENEMO’s international observation mission for the 20 October 2019 General Local Elections in Moldova is financially supported by the European Union, Sweden and the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The content of the document is the sole responsibility of ENEMO and does not necessarily represent the position of the donors.
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