on the organization of the debate “About old and new faults of electoral process 2020 inveigled by the press and old and new faults of the press, unveiled by electoral process”. Public debates series held by the news agency IPN in its conference room with the support of the German Foundation “Hanns Seidel”
Held on 29 October 2020, Debate No.06 brought together: Petru Macovei, executive director of the Association of Independent Press (API); Ion Bunduchi, executive director of the Association of Electronic Press APEL and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.
Theoretically, the press plays a very important role in the electoral process in a democratic country and is designed to offer the voters a sufficient set of information and opinions for it to be able to make the choice freely and consciously. Moreover, in a democratic state the press seems to be even part of the electoral process. The experts invited to IPN’s public debate “About old and new faults of electoral process 2020 inveigled by the press and old and new faults of the press, unveiled by electoral process”, discussed the way in which the practice of the Moldovan press complies with the theoretical provisions.
Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said the political sciences pay special attention to the press, especially during election campaigns. This is valid for all the democratic countries and the countries that claim to be democratic. Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova forms part of the chapter on human rights and refers to the right to opinion and information. The items of this article refer to the right to opinion and the freedom of expression that are developed in the law of 1994 on the press that stipulates constitutional principles, defining the role of the press, the journalists, the state, their rights, etc.
The next important law is the law on audiovisual services that regulates the audiovisual sector. Article 32 of the Electoral Code refers to campaigning, how the electoral contenders make themselves heard by the citizens. There is also Article 70 that regulates the way in which the audiovisual institutions cover the electoral campaigns of election runners through the agency of media service providers. Among the institutions that supervise the activity of the press in the electoral process are the Audiovisual Council that regulates the audiovisual sector, the specialized journalists’ organizations that regularly conduct studies of the way in which the electoral campaigns are covered. The Audiovisual Council recently published a report on the monitoring of the mass media and the difference in monitoring resides in the approach. The Council publishes quantitative reports, while the NGOs or media organizations publish quantitative and qualitative reports.
Ion Bunduchi, executive director of the Association of Electronic Press APEL, said that he didn’t notice new things in the current electoral process. In fact, themes that reveal the old faults are perpetuated. The political technology in Moldova does not really invent procedures that could be also used by the press to disclose something.
The APEL executive director noted that all the practices used by the electoral contenders until now, regardless of the type of elections, are the same. “The good press indicates to the same faults, either misuse of administrative resources, the activity of the central players of the electoral process or the organization and conduct of elections by the CEC, initiative groups, electoral competitors. We saw the same mistakes being made, as every time. We also point to the faults of the electoral legislation, but they remain in the law. When there are evident violations, the decision makers say the law is as it is and it wasn’t violated and penalties cannot be imposed. The law allows committing deviations without facing penalties,” stated Ion Bunduchi.
Petru Macovei, executive director of the Association of Independent Press (API), said the authorities in Moldova turn out to be inefficient when the journalist signal illegalities. The investigative journalism in Moldova has strengthened. For example, investigative journalists verified the lists of donors of political parties and found out that, as in the previous campaigns, the people without incomes donate tens of thousands of lei for initiative groups. This shows that the journalists in Moldova are better prepared to follow the election campaign than the electoral authorities that don’t do this because they don’t want or because they are controlled politically, while those who are in power don’t want these practices to be excluded from the electoral process.
According to him, the mass media can exercise their role in an electoral campaign by disseminating information, by electoral debates and journalistic investigations. Petru Macovei expressed his indignation at the situation when the Audiovisual Council, which was created to develop the audiovisual sector, proposed to the CEC that the media outlets should take over the debates from the national TV channel Moldova 1. In Moldova, the proposal came from the Audiovisual Council. “It’s true that the CEC said the mass media can decide to either take over or to organize itself. The Council in Moldovan society cannot fulfill its part and plays the role of a cudgel for inconvenient media outlets,” stated the expert.
The debate “About old and new faults of electoral process 2020 inveigled by the press and old and new faults of the press, unveiled by electoral process” was the sixth installment of the electoral series “We and the President: who elects who, who represents who” that is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
Representatives of the ruling party of that period were invited to the debate, but neither representatives of the Pro-Moldova Party nor those of the Democratic Party of Moldova found possibilities to take part.
The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 29.10.20, „About old and new faults of electoral process 2020 and of the press. IPN debate” - https://www.ipn.md/en/about-old-and-new-faults-of-electoral-process-2020-and-8004_1077201.html; „Petru Macovei: Media disseminate a lot of opinion and not many balanced news items” - https://www.ipn.md/en/petru-macovei-media-disseminate-a-lot-of-opinion-and-not-8004_1077204.html; „Ion Bunduchi about behavior of the press in elections” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-bunduchi-about-behavior-of-the-press-in-elections-8004_1077207.html; „Igor Boțan: Role of the press in election campaign is fundamental” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-role-of-the-press-in-election-campaign-is-8004_1077209.html; on 30.10.20 “Igor Boțan: Inaction of authorities is due to political interests”- https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-inaction-of-authorities-is-due-to-political-interests-8004_1077215.html; “Petru Macovei: Most of fake news are disseminated through social networking sites” - https://www.ipn.md/en/petru-macovei-most-of-fake-news-are-disseminated-through-social-8004_1077213.html; “Ion Bunduchi about information disseminated by journalists and bloggers” - https://www.ipn.md/en/ion-bunduchi-about-information-disseminated-by-journalists-and-bloggers-8004_1077214.html.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN