Moldova: ensuring conditions conducive to free and fair elections

Concluding a visit to the Republic of Moldova from 3 to 5 April 2018, PACE’s co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of the country, Egidijus Vareikis (Lithuania, EPP/CD) and Maryvonne Blondin (France, SOC), have welcomed Moldova’s continuing commitment to European values, but urged the authorities to continue reforms and create conditions conducive to free and fair elections.

“During our visit, we observed that Moldova’s multicultural society remains divided on several issues, especially geopolitical ones. At the same time, there is a strong consensus about membership of the Council of Europe and its core values which can unify society. The Moldovan people should have their fundamental rights fully guaranteed and protected. Respect for the rule of law is also essential to secure a sound economic environment, amplify the country's efforts over the two last years to stabilise the economy and create jobs, ensure better living standards and eventually curb the drain of human capacity, thousands of people leaving the country which is damaging today’s society and tomorrow’s future.

This autumn, Moldovan voters will elect their new parliament under a new, mixed electoral system which, despite some improvements made, does not yet meet all Venice Commission requirements. Most of our interlocutors, coming from different sides, raised concerns about the concentration of media ownership, intimidation and pressure exerted on politicians, in particular at local level, and the lack of independence of the judiciary and the prosecution service, which are seen to apply selective justice. In this context, current conditions may not be conducive to fair and sound election campaigns. The funding of political parties is yet another issue that the authorities urgently need to look into, in light of the recommendations issued by the Venice Commission.

Moldovan politicians should act in the best interests of their people and carry out much-needed reforms - including by amending the constitution on the judiciary - to ensure, among other things, the independence and accountability of judges, fair trials, pre-trial detention only when strictly necessary, improved prison conditions, the fight against corruption and undue business influence, the adoption of a new audiovisual code, as well as practices and effective implementation of laws that are in line with European standards.

We travelled to the Autonomous Unit of Gagauz Yeri to discuss current issues, and the progress made on the harmonisation of Moldovan legislation with the 1994 Status of the Autonomous Unit of Gagauz Yeri. We hope that the Moldovan and Gagauzian authorities will revitalise the institutional dialogue established in 2016 - and that the parliament will eventually adopt the pieces of legislation expected to provide a sound legal framework which meets the expectations of both sides.

Finally, we note with satisfaction recent initiatives taken to combat domestic violence, including the introduction of restriction orders on perpetrators of violence and awareness-raising activities which are encouraging steps to prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence”, the rapporteurs declared.

In Chisinau, the co-rapporteurs met with the President of the Republic, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration, the Speaker of Parliament, the Minister of Internal Affairs, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, the President of the Constitutional Court, the General Prosecutor, the head of the Central Election Commission and the head of the National Anti-Corruption Centre. They are also met the leaders of different political groupings in the parliament, as well as NGO and media representatives.

In Comrat, the co-rapporteurs met the Deputy Governor of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia Yeri, the head of Gagauzia’s People’s Assembly and local civil society representatives.