This statement is offered by an international delegation organized by the National Democratic Institute (NDI). The delegation’s purposes were to accurately and impartially assess electoral preparations in advance of the 2019 parliamentary elections; review the broader political environment; examine factors that could affect the integrity of the electoral process; and offer recommendations that could contribute to peaceful, credible elections and public confidence in the electoral process.
Democracy is one of Moldova’s most essential assets. It is the key to sustaining stability, pursuing prosperity, and defending independence. It is the foundation of lasting and good faith alliances. Moldova can and should be a success story for democracy in the region. It has many achievements to its credit, including a competitive and pluralistic political environment, the proven capacity to conduct genuine elections, and motivated voters. However, Moldovans’ confidence in political institutions and processes has declined; citizens feel disconnected from their elected representatives. These trends reflect a sense that hard-fought achievements are eroding. Parliamentary elections in February 2019 offer an opportunity to regain public trust, which could in turn be invested in a renewed commitment to democratic reforms.
As Moldova approaches the elections, several issues stand out as areas for restoring public trust. All parties and candidates should have confidence that they will have equitable opportunities to register and be allowed to campaign, take office, and fulfill their elected responsibilities freely. Intimidation should play no role in the electoral process. All parties and candidates should have equitable access to the media so voters are able to make informed choices. Rules regarding campaign financing, as well as distinctions between campaign and state activities, should be strictly and equitably enforced. The responsibility for meeting these expectations falls largely with government authorities and election management bodies. However, a legitimate election will require concerted and constructive efforts from all Moldovan stakeholders.
To address these challenges, the delegation offers a series of recommendations, including the following:
The government should communicate to all civil servants and political supporters that intimidation of parties, candidates, journalists, civil society representatives and voters will not be tolerated, and that violators will be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Parties and candidates should have full confidence that they will be able register and campaign freely.
The judiciary should exercise its responsibilities in an impartial, fair, and transparent manner, in accordance with the rule of law and irrespective of political considerations..
The government should communicate that abuses of administrative resources for partisan purposes will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
All media outlets should provide equitable access to parties and candidates, in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.
The international community should closely monitor the electoral environment while supporting domestic Moldovan efforts to promote transparency and accountability.
A credible election process would reinforce Moldova’s democracy. It would also inspire those working for democracy throughout the region. By the same token, a flawed process would have damaging consequences beyond the country’s borders. It is therefore vital for Moldova’s friends in the international community to stand side-by-side with all Moldovans in supporting a process that respects the will of the voters. This will help Moldova retain its place in the community of democracies.