ENEMO’s International Election Observation Mission for the 2023 Local Elections in Moldova presented the Preliminary Statement
Chisinau, November 06, 2023: “The 5 November local elections come at a pivotal moment for the country’s path towards building a fully functional democracy. While voters were presented with a broad choice, allegations of widespread and coordinated attempts to sway the will of the voters, through vote buying and other practices that are at odds with the very foundations of a democratic society, are extremely concerning. In the long run, such practices risk irreparably damaging electoral integrity, thus eroding democracy. They should be addressed efficiently and resolutely by the competent authorities, while also unequivocally upholding the principles of rule of law.” – this was stated by Mr. Dritan Taulla, Head of the International Election Observation Mission of ENEMO for the 2023 Local Elections in Moldova, at the press conference held today at IPN, to present the Preliminary Statement.
Nino Rizhamadze, Election and Legal Analyst of the EOM of ENEMO, said: “Generally, the existing legal framework provides a sound basis for holding elections in line with international commitments and standards. ENEMO welcomes the adoption of the new Electoral Code, which is significantly improved. The adoption of the law was preceded by a transparent, inclusive and comprehensive electoral reform, in line with ENEMO's long-standing primary recommendation.”
“The CEC operated in a transparent and competent manner. Despite the significant number of notifications, procedural and organisational tasks, and shortage in human resources, overall, the CEC managed the process timely and efficiently, adhered to the election calendar and legal deadlines prescribed by the Law. ” – added Rizhamadze.
Ales Jakubec, Political Analyst of the EOM highlighted that: “In general, the vast majority of candidates were able to register without difficulties and no major concerns were reported by ENEMO interlocutors. Chance party candidates, throughout the country, were deregistered by the Commission for Exceptional Situations two days ahead of elections.”
ENEMO deems that the decision to cancel the registration of candidates should have been made by election management bodies and the right to appeal should have been ensured. The intervention of the CES, a body mostly composed of members of the executive, on the right to stand for election raises concerns about the involvement of the executive in the electoral process.
“While candidates had the opportunity to campaign freely, fair conditions in the campaign were not ensured. The playing field was distorted by promises of large-scale financial incentives used as campaigning instruments. Numerous allegations of widespread vote-buying, pressure on employees, misuse of administrative resources or the use of achievements of the municipalities in the campaign, mainly by incumbents, marred the election campaign. Many interlocutors raised serious concerns about “shadow funding” from abroad to bribe voters and the possible impact on the electoral results, which was also the main argument used to cancel the registration of the candidates fielded by one political party.” – concluded Jakubec.
Maja Milikic, Media Analyst of the EOM stated: “The media landscape in Moldova reflects a complex interplay of political influence, economic challenges, and evolving regulations. The polarisation between pro-Russian and pro-Western factions, coupled with oligarchic control, hampers the media's ability to act as an independent and critical voice. The advertising market, too small for the numerous television channels, faces financial difficulties.”
Moldova has witnessed a surge in informational attacks and security threats, particularly during the electoral process, with Russia conducting disinformation campaigns through specific media outlets in a broader hybrid war.
“The decision to suspend licence for six TV stations during the state of emergency, approved by the Commission for Exceptional Situations was driven by concerns about violations and manipulative narratives, aiming to safeguard the national information space. The Intelligence and Security Service has accused the Russian Federation of influencing local elections in Moldova, actively engaging in disinformation campaigns through these TV stations, thereby posing a threat to the democratic process.” - added Ms. Milikic.
The Preliminary Statement issued today is based on ENEMO’s findings on the national level and throughout the regions observed from October 1st to November 6th, 2023. The mission will issue one more statement of preliminary findings and conclusions a day after the run offs and will remain in the country to observe the second round of elections in the municipalities where no mayor secured a majority of the votes in the first round.
The International Election Observation Mission of ENEMO for the 2023 Local Elections in Moldova is financially supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the Republic of Moldova, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Soros Foundation Moldova. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of ENEMO and do not necessarily reflect the views of the donors.
For additional information, please contact: Maja Milikic, Media Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, +37361112554