The party of the mayor of Chisinau tried to annul the CEC’s decision prohibiting Chisinau City Hall from distributing advertising materials. The Supreme Court of Justice rejected the appeal
The Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) rejected on Wednesday, September 13, the appeal filed by the “National Alternative Movement” (MAN) party against a decision of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) by which the Chisinau City Hall, distributors and broadcasters involved in the process of distributing advertising material “1000+ important projects for Chisinau” were obliged to ensure its removal from the public space.
Thus, the panel composed of judges Aliona Miron, Ion Malanciuc, Aliona Donos, upheld the decision of 5 September 2023 of the Chisinau Court of Appeal, in the civil case on the action in administrative dispute filed by the Political Party “National Alternative Movement” against the Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova on the annulment of the CEC decision no. 1162 of 9 August 2023 “on complaint no. CEC-7/5708 of 24 July 2023”.
On 11 August 2023, the political party “National Alternative Movement” filed an action in administrative dispute with the Chisinau Court of Appeal against the CEC, requesting the annulment of the decision no. 1162 of 9 August 2023. The Court of Appeal declared MAN’s application inadmissible.
“In the grounds of the action, the plaintiff alleged that on 26 July 2023, PP “MAN” received the address from the CEC requesting an opinion on the complaint filed by the third party PP “PLDM”, with registration number CEC-7/5708 of 24 July 2023, within the deadline of 27 July 2023, at 16:00. Within the set deadline, PP “MAN” submitted its position on the said complaint, indicating that it is not directly or indirectly concerned by the complaint, that it is not carrying out promotional activities through political advertising at that time and that it has not conducted internal procedures for the nomination of a candidate for the general local elections of 05 November 2023.
According to the applicant, the contested decision mentions PP ‘MAN’ four times, including in the context that Ion Ceban is the president of that party. In addition, it is directly indicated, as an established fact that does not require further discussion, that Ion Ceban will be the candidate of PP “MAN” in the general local elections of 5 November 2023″, the political party explained before the Supreme Court.
The Court of Appeal concluded that the MAN party had in no way claimed to be affected by the provisions of the contested individual administrative act.
The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) decided in August to ban the dissemination and distribution of advertising material “1000+ important projects for Chisinau” and obliged the Chisinau City Hall, distributors and broadcasters involved in its dissemination to ensure its removal from the public space.
The mayor of the capital Ion Ceban said that Chisinau City Hall will comply, but will appeal “in all courts” the CEC decision.
At the same time, Ceban accused CEC members of “not even noticing the electoral campaign started long ago by PAS, which distributes electoral materials throughout the capital”.
“In the public information distributed by the City Hall, there are no elements of electoral agitation, taking into account that these materials are prepared long before the electoral period, and more precisely for about 2 years,” the mayor claimed.
The decision came in the context of the examination by the CEC members, in the meeting of 9 August, of a complaint filed by the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM), in which alleged illegal actions of the Mayor General of Chisinau municipality were invoked.
Having examined the content of the advertising materials mentioned in the complaint, the Commission concluded that they contained elements of electoral propaganda and that they had been produced, distributed and disseminated with the direct and indirect use of administrative resources. According to the CEC ruling, the misuse of public resources by issuing various advertising materials (audio, video, print, street advertising) with electoral connotation is a use of administrative resources to the detriment of other potential electoral competitors and at the expense of taxpayers.
“Accordingly, such actions are in defiance of the system of fair campaign financing as a key element of the rule of law. It should be noted that, as a matter of principle, the Commission does not deny the necessity or desirability of providing the public with general and targeted information on the work of public authorities, in order to make their successes visible, including by using the methods made available by Law No 62/2022 on publicity. However, this should be done in an objective and proportionate manner, which would also ensure an efficient use of public resources. The Commission pointed out that according to Art.13 para. (4) (b) of the Law No. 62/2022 on advertising, managerial achievements and/or objectives of public sector entities cannot be qualified as messages of public interest”, according to the CEC.
Thus, taking into account the new legal provisions in the field of dissemination of messages of public interest, as well as the facts established following the examination of the complaint discussed during the public hearing, the Commission announced that it will forward the decision to the State Chancellery to bring it to the attention of the local and central public administration authorities in order to “prevent similar abuses from occurring, but also to intensify efforts to create the Council on messages of public interest”.
At the same time, given that in the process of examining the complaint, elements of the use of administrative resources involving the use of public human, logistical and financial resources were established, the decision was also to be forwarded to the Court of Auditors, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Interior for information and, “where appropriate, the adoption of the necessary measures”.
Ion Ceban is the founder and president of the National Alternative Movement (MAN) party, registered in January 2023 with the Public Services Agency (ASP).
Local elections are due to take place on 5 November 2023.
In 2019, the Chisinau mayoral elections were won by the candidate of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), Ion Ceban, who defeated the candidate of the ACUM Bloc, Andrei Năstase, by 11,294 votes.
Ion Ceban became the first candidate of a left-wing party to be elected mayor of Chisinau. After his victory, he publicly promised that he would withdraw from the PSRM and not get involved in politics, being mayor of all Chisinau residents. In 2022, Ceban announced that he was launching his “National Alternative Movement Party” and would run for a second term as mayor of Chisinau in 2023.