on the organization of the debate “First round of presidential elections 2020: lessons learned and lessons to be learned”. 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 04 November 2020, Debate No.158 brought together: Victor Juc, director of the Institute for Legal, Political and Sociological Research; Vadim Pistrinciuc, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policies and Initiatives and Igor Boțan, IPN project’s standing expert.
As any important thing, the first round of the presidential elections of November 1, 2020 has at least three important stages: planning, implementation and assessment. Society needs the assessment stage to understand what was done good and less good in the past and also what it should do in the future, more exactly in the period that remained until the November 15 runoff vote. Such aspects were discussed by the participants in IPN’s public debate “First round of presidential elections 2020: lessons learned and lessons to be learned”.
Igor Boțan, the standing expert of IPN’s project, said that under the Election Code, the second round of the presidential elections is held in two weeks of the first round after the Central Election Commission totals the election results and reaches the conclusion that the first round is valid and the voter turnout was at least one third of the voters put on the rolls. The CEC has enough time to approve the election outcome report and to prepare the report on the organization and holding of the runoff vote that is to take place on November 15. Later, until November 25, the CEC will have to total up and to prepare all the documents that will be submitted to the Constitutional Court, which will examine them and will decide whether to validate or invalidate the presidential elections.
As regards the voter turnout, the expert said this is excellent given the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ reliable reports that there are 800,000 Moldova voters outside the country. Respectively, if we extract 800,000 from 2.8 million people, of the 2,000 million people who are at home, 1.3 million voted. This is a good voter turnout in times of a pandemic.
As to the correctness of elections, Igor Boțan said there are many interpretations even if the first round of voting passed only. There are problems related to the integrity of the electoral process and this is noticed by international observers also. “There are scandals related to the illegal financing of parties, monopolies in the mass media and these problems haven’t been solved for years. There are also scandals over the organized transportation of voters and such a phenomenon was also witnessed at the elections of February 2019. There are now repeats that should be deal with before the runoff.”
Victor Juc, director of the Institute for Legal, Political and Sociological Research, said he would divide the electoral campaign prior to the presidential elections into two periods. The first period is the one during which the electoral contenders could present their messages and the competition was relatively good from this viewpoint. The electoral contenders could present their electoral offer and ideas for country modernization programs through different channels. However, a number of deviations were witnessed on the election day. These are traditional violations that were witnessed during a long period of time, such as attempts to illegally transport voters to polling stations, voter corruption and campaigning on the election day, which is witnessed even in the U.S., where elections also take place.
According to him, the voter turnout was acceptable. “We can no longer hope that the situation of 1991 will repeat and we will have a turnout of over 80%. The situation is now different. In general, the voter turnout is now differentiated all over Europe. The voter turnout is the highest in the parliamentary elections, followed by the presidential elections and the local elections. Surely, many people want a higher turnout so that the level of representation or legitimacy is higher. But this fact does not refer to the powers enjoyed by the President in accordance with the Constitution and other normative documents. The higher or lower turnout depends mainly on electoral contenders’ efforts,” stated Victor Juc.
He also said that taking into account the COVOD-19 pandemic and other factors, the turnout at the presidential elections was good. The voter turnout between 40% and 50% of the eligible voters will persist also because the situation in other countries is similar. Many citizens emigrated, others no longer believe in the political class and the turnout in such circumstances is good. It could rise by several percentage points if the option “Against All” is introduced in the ballot.
Vadim Pistrinciuc, executive director of the Institute for Strategic Policies and Initiatives, noted that the voter turnout was higher than many experts expected as they believed the pandemic will decrease the turnout close to the lowest limit. “There were such opinions and it is indeed for the first time that the elections are held under such epidemiological conditions and a part of society is really concerned about the state of affairs. Even so, the turnout was rather high, even if under the rates recorded at other elections. Surely, the record turnout in the diaspora was a surprise,” he stated.
According to Vadim Pistrinciuc, there are yet reserves for the turnout for both of the camps. “There are persons who would vote the left and also those who would vote the right or the pro-European center, but these persons didn’t go to the polls in the country. And the number of such voters is high, including in the municipality of Chisinau and in other rather large districts,” he said, noting the struggle for the runoff will be aimed at increasing the turnout.
Vadim Pistrinciuc stated that these elections for him are not fair because there are a multitude of violations that are ignored as insignificant, but they are not like that. Many of these violations were committed by candidate Igor Dodon and these irregularities should be investigated from institutional and legal viewpoints. The fraud should not be neglected as there are many unsolved problems, like the social stores, the vote in the Transnistrian region and others. In another development, Vadim Pistrinciuc said the results of the first round of voting showed that the people turned their back to Igor Dodon and voted against him and this is a signal that the people want a change and are not satisfied with the developments.
The Agency published 7 news stories on the debate (see the English version of www.ipn.md): on 04.11.20, „ First round of presidential elections 2020: lessons learned and lessons to be learned. IPN debate” - https://www.ipn.md/en/first-round-of-presidential-elections-2020-lessons-learned-and-lessons-8004_1077384.html; „Victor Juc: Geopolitical preferences of people will matter in runoff” - https://www.ipn.md/en/victor-juc-geopolitical-preferences-of-people-will-matter-in-runoff-8004_1077385.html ; „Igor Boțan: There are problems related to integrity of electoral process” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-there-are-problems-related-to-integrity-of-electoral-8004_1077386.html ; „Igor Boțan: Figures show chances in runoff are 50:50” - https://www.ipn.md/en/igor-botan-figures-show-chances-in-runoff-are-5050-8004_1077387.html; “Victor Juc formulates recommendations for presidential runoff”- https://www.ipn.md/en/victor-juc-formulates-recommendations-for-presidential-runoff-8004_1077389.html; “Vadim Pistriciuc about disappointed voters and their assessment of Eastern option” - https://www.ipn.md/en/vadim-pistriciuc-about-disappointed-voters-and-their-assessment-of-eastern-8004_1077393.html; “Vadim Pistrinciuc about votes in Transnistria and technologized campaigns” - https://www.ipn.md/en/vadim-pistrinciuc-about-votes-in-transnistria-and-technologized-campaigns-8008_1077399.html.
Valeriu Vasilica, director of IPN