Moldova’s Electoral Reforms Signal Step Forward, Echo IRI Parliamentary Elections Findings
Washington, D.C. — The International Election Observation Mission of the International Republican Institute (IRI) released its final report on the 2019 Moldovan parliamentary elections. The report’s analysis of the electoral process and recommendations are especially pertinent ahead of Moldova’s October 2019 local elections and as the country’s newly elected government undertakes electoral reforms.
“The coalition government’s commendable steps to increase voter access and remove barriers to women’s full participation in politics are an encouraging start,” said IRI Eurasia Director Stephen Nix.
Since the coalition government was formed in June 2019, ending months of political deadlock, it has undertaken a wave of reforms that address several problems raised by election stakeholders during the IRI mission. Most notably, the return to a proportional representation electoral system is expected to address a lack of voter education regarding the district boundaries for single-mandate seats and alleviate the significant burden placed on election officials in processing multiple ballots under the mixed electoral system.
IRI had noted during the parliamentary elections that most women candidates appeared lower down or at the bottom of their party or bloc lists. As a result, women candidates represented only 30 percent of those elected from the national constituency. IRI is therefore encouraged to see the new Moldovan parliament adopt legislation aimed at further increasing women’s representation through a quota for women’s inclusion on party lists and measures to ensure equal distribution of men and women throughout the lists.
Additionally, IRI commends the recent passage of legislation that will better facilitate access for voters located outside of Moldova on Election Day, including by extending the time during which such voters can cast their ballots and recognizing expired passports as an adequate form of voter identification.
Moving forward, there are still a number of technical issues that remain to be addressed. Additional training for district-level election workers would facilitate uniform registration procedures. More must be done to streamline sorting, counting and verification procedures to make such processes less time-consuming. Polling stations should also be made more accessible to persons with disabilities or with limited mobility.
Despite the high number of concerns and grievances shared with IRI during the election process, very few official complaints were filed. Stakeholders consistently expressed mistrust in the judicial system and accused election administrators, local police and media outlets of political bias. More must be done to address these concerns of partiality and build trust in the use of the complaints process. Finally, IRI encourages Moldovan election officials to invest heavily in increased voter education and outreach efforts. These efforts will increase civic engagement and build a foundation for strong voter turnout in future elections.
“Improving the integrity, efficiency and transparency of future elections will not be easy, but it is very important for the future of Moldova’s democracy,” said IRI’s Senior Program Manager Nadejda Sacovici. “Local elections scheduled for October be will the first opportunity for the government to demonstrate progress and further build the public’s trust in elections. IRI encourages the government to continue on its path of election reform and will assist these critical efforts,” she added.
This final report builds on the findings and recommendations of IRI’s three pre-election reports throughout January and February 2019 as well as its preliminary statement released following the February 24, 2019 Election Day. The IRI mission consisted of a long-term observation team of 14 long-term observers and three long-term analysts. The IRI long-term observers remained on the ground from early December 2018 to late March 2019 and conducted more than 903 interviews and meetings with election stakeholders and attended over 103 events including political rallies, campaign events and court proceedings throughout the country. Their work was supplemented by a high-level short-term delegation led by IRI Board Member James T. Kolbe, IRI Vice President for Programs Scott Mastic and IRI Regional Director for Eurasia Stephen Nix. The short-term delegation also included parliamentarians and party officials from Belgium, Lithuania, Sweden, Ukraine, and the United States, as well as IRI staff from Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland and Ukraine.
Click here to read the final report.