he most long-awaited February development in the Republic of Moldova was undoubtedly the day of parliamentary elections. Many hopes were invested, but the new parallel voting system turned out to be a disappointment. A fog of uncertainty is covering Moldovan politics and the main haunting question now is ‘what’s next’?
On February 24, 2019 parliamentary elections took place in Moldova alongside a republican non-binding two-part referendum on whether the number of MPs should be reduced from 101 to 61 and whether MPs should be open to recall.
Candidates from 4 parties were elected to the new parliament. Under a parallel voting system, the Moldovan citizens voted as following: the Party of Socialists (PSRM) – 31,15%, the ACUM bloc – 26,84%, the Democratic Party (PDM) – 23,62% and the ȘOR party – 8,32%.
As for single-member constituencies, the results were as following: the Party of Socialists and the Democratic party ended up with 17 seats, the ACUM bloc – with 12, the ȘOR party – with 2, while independent candidates won in three constituencies.
Summing up these two components, the future parliament should consist of the following: the Party of Socialists – 35, the Democratic Party – 30, the ACUM bloc – 26, the “ȘOR” party – 7, and 3 seats will be taken by independent candidates.
Preliminary figures indicate the turnout of 49,22% and that is the lowest turnout in the history of modern Moldova since declaring country’s independence.
As for the Moldovan diaspora, over 75 thousand voters voted against 138 thousand that voted in the previous elections. The fact can be explained by the pro-European orientation of the diaspora members while the authorities not being keen on opening more polling stations abroad in this respect.
One of the most scandalous incidents was widespread transportation of voters from the left bank of the Dniester to the polling stations on the right bank of the river. Both democrats and socialists accused each other of arranging votes and vote buying.
It is yet to be seen how exactly the coalition will be coming together in the new parliament. In any case, following the elections, one of the ACUM bloc leaders Andrei Nastase when replying to the question about potential alliance with the Democratic party, stated that he will “never negotiate with a bandit” and also ruled out the possibility of forming a coalition with the Party of Socialists.
For the first time since 1998 monthly revenues to the country’s budget administered by the State Tax Service (STS) exceeded the revenues from the Customs Service (CS). This was reported by Moldova’s Minister of Finance Ion Chicu in one of his social media on February 1.
According to specialists, higher STS revenues can be explained by better tax administration and harsher punishment for tax evasion.
On February 18, work was launched on the construction of Ungheni-Chisinau pipeline. Moldpress news agency reports that Prime Minister Pavel Filip who was present at the event made a statement that the gas pipeline with a length of 120 km will be able to provide Moldova with the needed volume of natural gas. “It’s the second step for energy security of the Republic of Moldova. Many years after the time when the gas price was used as intimidation by those who supplied it to Moldova, we are approaching the day when this won’t happen anymore (…) Romania connects Moldova with Europe”, Pavel Filip stated.
“You should have listened to us …”
In the light of parliamentary elections, the European Union affirmed the necessity to address the Venice Commission recommendations and stated that post-electoral situation is going to be closely followed.
According to the preliminary conclusions of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, the elections were “competitive and fundamental rights were generally respected”.
However, shortcomings were noted throughout the campaign and on the Election Day, notably “allegations of pressure on public employees, strong indications of vote buying and the misuse of state resources”.
The Mission also noted that “control and ownership of the media by the political actors limited the range of viewpoints presented to voters.”
“These were the first elections conducted under the newly introduced mixed electoral system. As already expressed in the Council Conclusions of 26 February 2018, most of the significant amendments made to the Electoral Code in 2017 were not in line with some of the key recommendations of the Council of Europe Venice Commission and OSCE/ODIHR.”
“The conduct of the latest elections confirmed the need to address these recommendations and continue efforts to bring the electoral legislation and its implementation in line with international standards”, according to the EU press release.