The presidential election in the Republic of Moldova on 30 October (13 November) 2016 was conducted by universal suffrage for the first time since 1996. The election took place in 2 rounds separated by a period of two weeks. The election was competitive, partially free and satisfactorily organized. A total of 12 candidates, who reflected the political pluralism of society, entered the race. The free nature of suffrage was affected by restrictions on the ability of citizens abroad to cast their votes, as well as limits on opportunities for voters to form their own opinions in a campaign characterized by negative PR and the manipulation of public opinion, and by vote buying and the use of administrative resources. Overall, the procedural administration of the electoral process was transparent and in accordance with legislation. The legal framework for presidential elections was adopted by virtue of the Constitutional Court Decision on 4 March 2016, in opposition to the principle of stability of electoral law stipulated by the European Commission for Democracy through Law, according to which, “if the electoral law is amended, the old system will apply to the next election – at least if it takes place within the coming year – and the new one will take effect after that.” The legal framework for presidential elections was approved hastily, with certain ambiguities and gaps in regulation, but with enough time and content to allow for democratic elections. In general, the legislation conforms to democratic norms. Despite this, Promo-LEX EOM draws attention to a number of problematic situations in the following areas: signature collection by initiative groups (IGs); the simultaneous start of all candidates’ election campaigns; the exercise of the right to vote and validity of identity documents; the financing of election campaigns and IG activity; the applicability of sanctions for corrupting voters; the insufficient regulation of campaigns for the second round of elections; the accessibility of voting procedures for citizens abroad; and the legal regulation of organised voter transportation. On 17 June 2014, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova belatedly appointed a new nominal membership of CEC after 4 failed attempts. The mandate of the previous committee had expired on 11 February 2016. Regardless, the CEC organised and conducted the election in a predominantly transparent and orderly manner. There were certain organisational oversights related to: the fulfillment of CEC duties (overlooking initiatives from within, the non-uniform application of sanctions, etc.); the quality of the voter lists; the functioning of the State Automated Information System (“Elections” SAIS) on Election Day; adherence to the work schedule by certain electoral bodies; access for persons with disabilities; the organization of voting for citizens on the left bank of Nistru River; and the provision of heat and power at PSs on Election Day. Lower electoral bodies were created by the deadlines established by law, except for the PSs aboard. These polling stations were set up by the CEC in response to a proposal by the Government with a slight delay. The distribution and the number of PSs opened abroad was among the most talked-about issues of the election because of the shortage of ballots in at least 13 PSs abroad during the second round of the election. Although the CEC was not directly responsible for the number of PSs opened, it never addressed this issue with the Government during the election campaign.
Published on Feb 15, 2017