They are calm. They do not make political statements, nor do they look for shortcomings in the Central Electoral Commission’s functioning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, or other state institutions, empowered with the organization of elections. The polls seem to be favorable, and the difficult conditions in which this campaign takes place turn out well for them. Those who wanted presidential polls in a pandemic know why they did it. In an impoverished, worn-out society, sick with COVID-19, elections become formal acts, closely controlled by those who already hold power. Thus, they only need to let the time pass, after which power would perpetuate in their hands.
Under these conditions, political opponents’ statements remain unanswered, believing that this is how they manage to make their voices less audible.
Our development partners are increasingly concerned about the context and the electoral trends in Moldova. However, their statements are also ignored.
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe warned the Moldovan authorities about the potential to buy votes, about abuses of state resources, about the risks faced by the politically controlled media, about the lack of transparency in financing the campaign, and about the risk of manipulating or suppressing voters in the breakaway Transnistria region and the diaspora. There was no official response to these serious allegations.
OSCE made these statements immediately after the parliamentary elections on February 24, 2019. At the time, officials from the OSCE organization said that “Moldovan officials still have time to address these concerns, to ensure that citizens can vote freely and safely on the election day.” Now that we are in a new election campaign, how attentive and receptive were the authorities to these recommendations?
In August, Pascal Le Deunff, the Ambassador of France to Moldova, at a meeting with Dorin Cimili, the President of the Central Electoral Commission, notified that “all recommendations made by international observers after the legislative elections of February 24, 2019, must be fully taken into account, in particular, to combat the misuse of administrative resources, the illegal financing of the election campaign, the pressure on public employees and the purchase of votes.”
The president of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) did not respond to this notification. The press release issued by the CEC, however, informed that during the meeting, “the main topics of discussion focused on issues regarding the establishment of polling stations for Moldovan citizens with the right to vote for those who will be in France on election day, as well as the support the French authorities can provide for the proper organization of the election.” Not a word about avoiding voter corruption or any other abuse, admitted by the authorities during the elections.
A few days ago, Peter Michalko, the EU Ambassador to Moldova, stated in an interview for Free Europe that “there are risks the elections will not be considered free and fair, so it is important that the authorities do everything to prevent such problems.”
He insisted on some amendments to the Electoral Code that would sanction the media lie, hate speech, the church’s political involvement in the elections, voters’ organized transportation to the polling stations, etc. How receptive are the authorities to these warnings of the high-ranking European official?
On September 16, in an editorial marking the end of his two-year term, US Ambassador to Moldova Dereck J. Hogan referred to the importance of the November 1 elections, saying that the vote on that day is “a vital test for Moldova’s institutions. Moldova’s leaders have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure a free and fair electoral process that respects the people’s will.”
If all these warnings remain unheard, voters become hostages to a corrupt election.