Moldova: Authorities Forcing Mixed Electoral System

Lina Grau, Foreign Policy Association of Moldova (Moldova, Chisinau)

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Reviewing the electoral system, forced by the Democratic Party, not only polarizes the society of the Republic of Moldova but also, judging by all symptoms, creates a risk for leaving the country without any financial aid promised by the European Union. The civil society warns about possible pressure from the authorities and anti-democratic tendencies, while foreign partners call on Chisinau to provide pluralism and mass media independence

Domestic Policy. Launching Controversial Electoral System Reform

On May, 5 the Democratic Party included in the parliamentary agenda and voted for the merger of two drafts regarding reviewing the electoral system on the same day. The decision was supported by the MPs of the European People’s Party of Moldova led by the former Prime Minister Iurie Leancâ and the socialistic opposition. The new draft suggests transferring to the mixed electoral formula: some MPs will be elected from the parties’ lists, and some—in single-seat majority constituencies.

Voting happened on the same day when the leaders of two opposing parties—Maia Sandu (“Action and Solidarity Party”) and Andrei Nâstase (“Dignity and Truth Platform Party”)—visited Brussels.

These developments, far from being transparent according to its evaluation by both the opposition and the civil society, caused some street protests. Those who initiated the draft on implementing the mixed electoral system reassured that during the second reading the document will only be passed provided there is a positive conclusion by the Venice Commission, which was expected to give its evaluation in early June.

While visiting Chisinau, the Secretary of the Venice Commission Thomas Markert stated that the best test case of this issue is Ukraine, which “burnt its fingers using a mixed electoral system”.

Moldova is experiencing a deteriorating situation with media independence

This situation was the center of attention, generating research and surveys both against mixed electoral system  and supporting it. The authorities stated that civil society organizations acting against the new system are politically motivated and play to the opposition. NGOs accused the authorities of attempting to apply some pressure, while the Head of the EU Delegation in the Republic of Moldova Pirkka Tapiola said that non-governmental organizations play an important role and should participate in the affairs of the state.

Moldova is experiencing a deteriorating situation with media independence, which is reflected in the research “Capturing mass media and other means of public communication of the Republic of Moldova. The problems elicited deal with monopolizing both mass media and the market of advertising, propaganda and disputable legislation. These issues were also the subject of Pirkka Tapiola’s statement, who called for the authorities to bring into compliance the legislation and practice according to the Western norms.

Economy. EU Postponing Funding For Moldova

The European Parliament postponed providing financial aid of 100 mln euros to Moldova for a month. European MPs expressed their concerns regarding the condition of the Moldovan mass media, the situation with justice and changes in the electoral system. They declared that funding will not be provided until Chisinau fulfils all provisions previously discussed with the EU. In particular the requirements address the democratic standards, among which there is freedom of speech.

Foreign Policy. Parade In Moscow

The President of Moldova Igor Dodon is the only foreign head of the state who participated in the military parade in Moscow alongside the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. This was their third meeting since Dodon’s inauguration last December. The mass media and social networks had a field day upon learning this news .

However, at the end of the month Moldova declared five employees of the Russian embassy as personas non grata, it was done based on the information provided by its special forces. The employees were to leave the country within 24 hours. The President of Moldova Igor Dodon registered his disapproval reacting to the decision made by the MFA and called their actions “unfriendly”.

At the same time Chinisau and Kyiv are ready to launch a joint control at the “Pervomaisk-Kuchurgan” checkpoint at the Transnistrian part of the Moldova-Ukrainian border. This issue caused a stormy reaction of Tiraspol, which, supported by Moscow, declared this a blockade and an attempt to create cut-throat conditions for the situation in the region. Tiraspol called for discussion on this topic in the format 5+2 on Transnistrian settlement. However, both Chisinau and Kyiv reject this idea, referring to the fact that the Moldova-Ukrainian border is a subject to the conflict and can be negotiated only in the frames of a bilateral procedure.