Chisinau, Moldova – In the lead up to Moldova’s February 24, 2019 parliamentary elections, a pre-election assessment delegation of the National Democratic Institute (NDI) called for reinforcing democracy by restoring public trust in electoral processes.
“Moldova can and should be a success story for democracy in the region,” the delegation said, citing a competitive and pluralistic political environment, the proven capacity to conduct genuine elections, and motivated voters. It added, however, that Moldovans’ confidence in political institutions and processes has declined; there is a sense that hard-fought achievements are eroding.
The parliamentary elections offer an opportunity to regain public trust in political processes, which, the delegation noted, could be invested in a renewed commitment to democratic reforms. All parties should have equitable opportunities to register and be allowed to campaign, take office, and fulfill their elected responsibilities freely. The delegation stressed that 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 delegation offered a series of concrete 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 violators will be held accountable and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Parties and candidates should have 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.
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.
Noting that the responsibility for meeting these expectations falls largely with government authorities and election management bodies, the delegation also called for concerted and constructive efforts from all Moldovan stakeholders. It urged 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.
The delegation included Michael Carpenter, Senior Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement; Katie Fox, Deputy Director of NDI’s Eurasia programs; Laura Jewett, Director of NDI’s Eurasia programs; Samantha Schifrin, Legislative Assistant to U.S. Representative and Co-Chair of the Congressional Moldova Caucus David E. Price; Pamela Hyde Smith, former U.S. Ambassador to Moldova; Zlatko Vujovic, President of the Governing Board of the Center for Monitoring and Research in Montenegro and Secretary General of the ENEMO; and Andrew Young, Director of NDI’s programs in Moldova.
From December 12-15, the delegation held meetings in Chisinau with: representatives of political parties across the political spectrum; domestic and international observer groups; representatives of the media; government leaders; elections commissioners; government agencies; members of parliament; mayors; representatives of civil society; and the diplomatic community. The delegation conducted its activities in accordance with the laws of Moldova and the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.