In all, 930 electoral districts have been set up, of which 32 are raion districts, 3 municipal, 51 town, and 844 village. No electoral district has been set up in the secessionist region of Transdnistria. According to the Law on the Territorial and Administrative Organisation of Moldova, in Transdnistria there are 148 localities including two municipalities (Bender and Tiraspol), 9 towns (both including another two localities) and 69 villages (communes including another 64 rural settlements). In all these places, the general local elections of 25 May 2003 will not be held according to the electoral laws of the Republic of Moldova.
The poll is to elect 898 mayors in three municipalities, 51 towns and 844 villages (communes). In addition, 11,935 councillors are to be elected in 32 districts (1,036 councillors), 3 municipalities (113 councillors), 51 towns (1,035 councillors) and 844 villages (9,751 councillors).
For the above positions, 47,256 candidates have been registered. Of these, 3,466 are candidates for mayors: 21 for mayors of the 3 municipalities, 258 for mayors of 51 towns, and 3,187 for mayors of the 844 villages (communes). It appears that about 3.9 candidates compete per mayor seat: 7 per mayor of municipality, 5.1 per mayor of towns and 3,8 per village (commune) mayor.
For councillors, 43,790 candidates are competing: 5,214 candidates for district councils, 857 for municipal councils; 4,616 for town councils; 33,103 for village (commune) councils. Overall, a councillor seat is disputed by an average of 3,7 candidates: approximately 5 candidates compete for district councillors, 7.6 for municipal councillors, 4.5 for town councillors, and 3.4 for village (commune) councillors.
This data shows eloquently the degree of political activism in urban and rural localities of various types.
As for the electoral contestants, of the 26 parties registered with the Ministry of Justice, only 19 take part in this campaign, of which 11 run individually, and the rest within two electoral blocs. The first bloc, The Social Liberal Alliance “Our Moldova” (SLAOM), is made up of the Liberal Party (LP), the Social Democratic Alliance (SDA) and the Alliance of Independents (AI), which were later joined by the Party of Reform (PR), the Environmental Party “Green Alliance” (EPGA) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The second electoral bloc is made up by the Social Democratic Party and the Social Liberal Party (SDP-SLP). The other electoral contestants are the Democratic Party (DP), the Communist Party (CP), the Democratic Agrarian Party (DAP), the Socialist Party (SP), the People’s Christian Democratic Party (PCDP), the Movement of Professionals “Hope” (MPH), the Socio-political Movement “New Force” (SPMNF), the Party of Socialists (PS), the Republican Socio-political Movement “Equality” (RSPME), the Republican Party (RP) and the Centrist Union (CU).
The table below shows the number of candidates put up for elections by political formations and independent candidates (T — total, r — raion (districts), m — municipalities, t — towns, v — villages, IC — independent candidates):
The above table shows relatively well the organisational and electoral potential of Moldovan political forces. Apart from the fact that six out of all registered parties have failed to put up candidates for the upcoming elections, almost as many parties of those who do take part in elections have a very low organisational and electoral potential.
This fact is very important given the ongoing debates in Moldova on simplifying the political spectre through administrative methods, whereby a political party must show every year that it has at least 5,000 registered members. The ability of taking part in the local elections brings to the foreground criteria of a completely different order, much more democratic, for assessing the potential of political parties. In any case, these criteria should not involve the forced abolishment of weak parties as the provisions mentioned above stipulate.
However, it seems that for the parties to participate in eventual parliamentary elections, there should exist a number of barriers or clear cut criteria for registration for parliamentary elections. These are necessary because in the parliamentary elections all that parties have to do is submit a list of 101 candidates. As a result, approximately 30 percent of votes are lost due to the high electoral threshold.
It is worth mentioning that by the number of candidates the Communist Party has put up for mayors and councillors, it has demonstrated once again that it is the most influential and powerful political force in the. Two years ago, a few months after the communists’ absolute victory in the 2001 parliamentary elections, their newspaper “The Communist” wrote that one of the main aims of the party was to attract individuals of professional and moral weight in various Moldovan localities, regardless of their professional profile, whether they were private owners or shared or not communist views. This aim was to be attained to cover the lack of professionals in the CP. Now, one can state that the CP has succeeded to do this. Moreover, there has been a wealth of instances where powerful opposition candidates have been attracted to the communist ranks. There is nothing unusual in the fact that the administrative leverage causes political proselytism.
Likewise, it is worth mentioning that the constitution of electoral blocs, as expected, apart from their positive effects, particularly for the voters, have negative collateral effects for the political forces who set up the blocs. Thus, it often happens that the constituting elements of blocs fight with each other about which candidates to propose for mayors. In most cases this results in splits in the primary organisations of the constituent parties. This very phenomenon was invoked when parties negotiated their joining into electoral blocs for the local elections. From this point of view, it seems that those who argued that it was reasonable to form electoral blocs only when the constituent parties intend to merge or enter into lasting political coalitions after the elections were right.