MonitoringPoliticsCommentaries

Post-election reflections

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Igor Botan / March 14, 2005
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Electoral campaign

There were serious shortcoming in the way parliamentary elections were conducted in the Republic of Moldova (RM) on March 6, 2005. Still, it is important that International Election Observation Mission — a joint undertaking of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament — found that the “6 March parliamentary elections in Moldova were generally in compliance with most OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and other international election standards. They did, however, fall short of some key commitments, particularly regarding campaign conditions and media access, and in this respect, the negative trends noted already in 2003 local elections were confirmed”.

US State Department reached the same conclusion, as did domestic observers monitoring elections as part of Coalition 2005.

In this respect it is worth citing the comment of the Russian Information and Press Department of the MFA “if we judge elections in RM by their transparency, then there are many doubts in this respect. During electoral campaign international community pointed to the use of administrative resources, biased election coverage by media, especially the state owned one. These conclusions could have been confirmed or infirmed by CIS observers, including those from Russia, but Chisinau didn’t welcome their presence. It may be that RM authorities had something to hide if they acted in such a manner, resorting even to arrests and deportation of representatives of human rights NGOs, mainly Russian citizens, who legally wanted to join their colleagues from other countries in observing elections.

There were numerous violations registered in the voting procedures. A huge number of Moldovan citizens abroad were practically denied the right to vote, which is granted by the Constitution of the RM. Out of the several hundred thousands Moldovans working in Russia only about a third were able to cast their ballot. This was also true for RM citizens residing in Transdniestria.

Unfortunately, international observers did not take notice of those facts. This is yet another evidence of the double standards, practice that should be ended by means of developing single criteria for monitoring elections, regardless of where they are held”.

Undoubtedly, the aforesaid commentaries as well as those voiced by electoral players would have a considerable impact on the political stability in RM, or the lack thereof. In the election aftermath, while the Parliament governing bodies are elected, Government is appointed, and the President is elected by the Parliament — old hostilities would surface as would the new ones generated by the manner in which electoral campaign was conducted.

Election results

According to the CEC, 1 576 203 citizens out of the total 2 430 537 entitled to vote took part in elections, i.e. 64.84%. About 7% of the voters were included in the supplementary lists.

To compare, in 2001 parliamentary elections the voter turnout was 67.5%. Then 1 607 095 voters participated in the elections (30,000 more), while only 5.5% of the voters were included in supplementary voter rolls.

Noteworthy, this time 53,429 more citizens were included in the voter rolls, while the voter turnout was 3% lower.

The difference between the number of ballots issued to the citizens and the number of ballots in ballot boxes was 124, while in 2001 it was 392. The number of invalid ballots reached 18,251 i.e. 1.16% over 19, 446 (1.21%) in 2001.

As a result of March 6 parliamentary elections only three out of the twenty three contestants passed the threshold of representation — Party of Communists, Moldova Democrata Bloc, Christian-Democratic Peoples’ Party. The rest 20 contestants who failed to pass the threshold were cast 16.42% votes that would be redistributed to the former three according to the d’Hondt formula. For comparison, 28% of the votes were redistributed in 2001 parliamentary elections.

  1. Party of Communists (PC) garnered 716,336 votes, i.e. 45.98%. The redistribution of the 16.42% votes brought 10 extra mandates to the Party of Communists. Therefore it would have 56 out of the 101 seats in Parliament, thus securing its victory in elections. Hence, Communists would be able to elect Parliament governing bodies and appoint the Government on its own.

    Still, this performance fades when compared to their landslide victory in 2001 when the 50.07% votes brought them 71 seats in Parliament, 15 more than this time. Therefore, Communists would no longer be able to change the Constitution single-handedly (for which they would need 68 mandates — 2/3 of the deputies), nor would they be able to elect the President (61 mandates needed — 3/5 of the deputies). Those two factors would force Communists to the negotiation table with other Parliament factions.

  2. Moldova Democrata Bloc (MDB) was cast 444,377 votes, i.e. 28.53%. After redistribution according to the same d’Hondt formula it got 34 seats.

    Albeit the scepticism voiced by some of its members, MDB could be proud of such a result. The mere fact that it brought together three different players (Moldova Noastra Alliance, Democratic Party and Social-Liberal Party) that in their turn brought together other 15 smaller parties reduced to a great extend the number of wasted votes from 28% in 2001 to 16.42% in 2005.

  3. Christian-Democratic Peoples’ Party (CDPP) garnered 141,341 votes, i.e. 9.07%. After redistribution it got 11 seats, the same number as in the previous legislature.

    Albeit grumbling about their results on the grounds they didn’t compete on a level playing field, still CDPP confirmed the tendency of slow but steady increase in their rating. This time they got 10,000 more mandates, i.e. 0.8%.

  4. Parties/ blocs that failed to pass electoral threshold were cast 15.5% votes. One may classify them in three groups:

    1. Parties/blocs headed by more or less known figures and having more or less considerable sums to venture in electoral race. Among those are: Social Democratic Party (2.95%), Party of Socio-Economic Justice (1.66%), Peasants’ Christian-Democratic Party (1.37%) and Centrist Union (0.75%). Those players had quite consistent electoral offers, some of them were quite good actually. Social-Democratic Party and Peasants’ Christian-Democratic Party managed to conduct very active electoral campaigns, at times even aggressive, however the “useful vote” phenomenon that determined many to vote for “players standing real chances” to pass the threshold, has stolen many votes from them.
    2. Parties/blocs that exploited the so-called “ethnic vote”. This specifically refers to “Patria-Rodina” Bloc (4.97%), “Ravnopravie” Movement (2.83%) and “Patria-Rodina” Labour Union (0.92%). Albeit each of them ran separately they had anti-western, pro-Russian, and pro-Transdniestrian message. They all directed their firepower at the leader of the Party of Communists, Vladimir Voronin, for his alleged change in the foreign policy vector from a pro-Russian to a pro-Western one and for keeping Transdniestria under an economic and political blockade. In the previous elections such parties did not gather more than one percent. This time, however, altogether they gathered 8.72%, on top of that, they had a landslide victory in the regions populated by national minorities, previously the Communists territory.
    3. Republican Party has made itself conspicuous by gathering only 592 de votes (0.04%), that is only 10% of its own members voted for it.
  5. Independent candidates altogether got 14,676 votes, i.e. 0.94% of the total valid votes cast. For comparison, in 2001 independent candidates gathered 2.29%; in 1998 — 5.63%; in 1994 — 2.54%. “Useful vote” has undoubtedly robbed the independents of victory, not to mention the electoral threshold — 4% in 1997 and then lowered to 3%.

    The performance of independents has been weaker and weaker. In this campaign, for instance, the only thing four of them did to make themselves known was to give up their free air-time for a campaign aimed at denigrating CDPP.

Parliament sociological profile

It is worth mentioning several peculiarities in the sociological profile of the Parliament. For a start, there are 18 non-party members among the would-be deputies. This is a positive sign for those who defend the interests of the so-called non-party candidates. Secondly, the number of women deputies hit a record high 21 mandates.

This campaign has also confirmed some of the tendencies registered in the previous elections: a) 1/3 of the Parliament membership remains the same; b) 2/3 of deputies come from Chisinau and the regions remain again under-represented. The table bellow features other data, especially on their profession (as indicated by them in the documents submitted to CEC).

FactionsPCMDBCDPPParliament as a whole
Number of members 563411101
Non-party members151218
Average age52.748.145.950.4
Number of women115521
Residing in Chisinau3127967
Residing in Centre rayons74213
Residing in North rayons133016
Residing in South rayons4004
Residing abroad1001
Officers of the central government130013
Deputies in the incumbent Parliament247334
Mayors3205
Officers of the local government4419
Economists129021
Lawyers95115
Political scientists116017
Managers2417
Diplomats2002
Engineers2312237
Agronomists4004
Teachers105217
Historians2417
Journalists0156
Doctors3104
Philologists0101
Trade unions1102
Directors of joint-stock companies2406
Final stage of the electoral campaign Chance of democratisation of the Republic of Moldova