With this week being global diaspora week (see US Secretary of State Kerry’s opening remarks here), I was reminded of IRI’s work with diaspora before the November 2014 Moldovan parliamentary election.

Moldovan law provides for overseas voting, and about one-quarter of Moldova’s voting-age population resides abroad and remain highly invested in the country—remittances make up more than 27 percent of Moldova’s GDP. Unfortunately, diaspora frequently do not have access to campaign materials and basic information on voting procedures.  IRI sought to remedy this problem by linking Moldovan diaspora leaders, the Central Election Commission (CEC) and the Foreign Ministry’s Diaspora Relations Bureau (BRD).

Through seven seminars in Italy (home to one quarter of Moldova’s abroad population), Portugal, France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, IRI reached 134 diaspora leaders. At these forums, representatives from the BRD and the CEC shared information about voting procedures directly with the diaspora community. Also, the diaspora leaders were able to share their perspectives on polling locations, new voter regulations and government outreach efforts to the communities abroad. Through this exchange of information, election officials were able to quickly remedy problems facing voters overseas. Two problems that were addressed are:

Democracies work better when governments and constituents communicate this way, and IRI’s voter abroad initiative in Moldova is but one example of how building these linkages can have productive results.

Feaure Photo:  Representatives of Portugal’s diaspora associations attend IRI’s GOTV seminar in Lisbon, Portugal October 25, 2014. 

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