27/03/2009 - D-7
On 5th April next the Moldovans are being called to vote to renew the members of their Parliament.
15 political parties, i.e. three more than in the previous elections on 6th March 2005 and 6 independent candidates are running:
- the Communist Party of President Vladimir Voronin and Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii;
- the Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) the main opposition party led by former mayor of Chisinau, Serafim Urechean;
- the Democratic Party (PDM), the opposition party of former president of the Parliament, Dumitru Diacov ;
- the People's Christian Democratic Party (PPCD), a centre-right opposition party led by Jurie Rosca ;
- the Social Democratic Party;
- the Liberal Party (PL) led by Mihai Ghimpu;
- the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) led by Vlad Filat;
- the Centrist Union led by former Prime Minister Vasile Tarleve (2001-2008), who is allied to the United Gagaouzia, a party from the autonomous Republic of Gagaouzia (south) led by Mihail Formuzal;
- the European Action Movement led by Anatol Petrenco and allied to the National Liberal Movement;
- United Moldova;
- the Conservative Party;
- the Environmental Party-Green Alliance;
- For the Nation and the Country;
- the Rodina, Labour Union;
- Republican Party.
The independent candidates are: Balti town councillor Sergiu Banari, the chairman of the Helsinki Committee in Moldova Stefan Uritu, Victor Railean, Tatiana Timbalist, Valentina Cusnir and Andrei Lomachin. The candidatures of Veaceslav Rosca and Oleg Boltnicov were refused by the Electoral Commission because the signatures they delivered were not valid.
The voting slips have had to be lengthened by 5cm so that all the candidates' names can be included. Eight Communist Party candidates with dual nationality (such as musician Konstantin Moskovich or Education Minister Larisa Savga) were withdrawn from the list. The new electoral law stipulates that if people with dual citizenship want to take part in the election they would have to choose between their seat as MP and the upkeep of their dual nationality in the event of them being elected. 100 000 Moldovans have dual nationality (mainly Russian, Ukrainian and Romanian).
According to the opposition parties many Moldovans living abroad have again complained of finding it difficult to vote in the general elections on 5th April. They can only fulfil their civic duty in the countries where Chisinau has a diplomatic representation. 630,000 Moldovans living abroad are registered on the electoral roll.
At the head of Moldova since 2001 the Communist Party is due, according to the polls, to stay in power. The country's economic situation, which the party led by President Voronin, has highlighted during the entire campaign has not progressed as quickly over the last few months as it has done over the last few years (remittances – transfer of funds – that represent more than one half of the Moldovan GDP have decreased) and the Communist Party's popularity has suffered because of this. However the opposition forces are still far too divided and do not appear to be able to form a government coalition.
The general elections in Moldova are of dual importance since the Constitution stipulates that the Head of State is elected by the members of Parliament 45 days after the renewal of the Chamber. Vladimir Voronin, whose mandate ends on 7th April next, cannot run for a third term in office. Given the late date chosen for the general elections he will remain head of Moldova for two additional months, the time it takes to elect his successor. Many wonder what his future will be. Rumour has it that he may run for the presidency of the Parliament, a position that has real legislative and executive power; the person who occupies this post can only be dismissed after the vote and approval of 2/3 of the MPs.
The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov travelled to Moldova on a two day trip in February – it was the first visit by a Russian official in ten years. Democratic Party leader Dumitru Diacov, accused the Communist authorities of "using the Russian element to win the support of Russian-speaking voters." Sergey Lavrov's visit was also criticized by Igor Smirnov, the "President" of the secessionist republic of neighbouring Transnistria (the eastern part of Moldova that unilaterally proclaimed its independence in 1992) who indicated that there was no reason to suppose that the Moldovan authorities had the support of Moscow because of this visit.
Vladimir Voronin and Igor Smirnov met on 18th March in Moscow with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. On this occasion the EU special representative for Moldova, Kalman Mizsei and US Ambassador in Chisinau, Asif Chaudhry expressed their concern with regard to the "5+2" group of negotiators who are trying to settle the conflict that has been going on for over 15 years (Moldova, the Moldovan region of Transnistria, Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE together with two observers : the EU and the USA).
On 24th March Vladimir Voronin cancelled a meeting with Igor Smirnov saying that the latter did not keep his promises. He was protesting against the rejection of the presence of American and European officials during the negotiations.
The Moldovan President secured a gift - a 50,000 tonne delivery of oil from Russia for farmers, one which comes just in time for the sowing season and just a few days before the general elections.
The head of the OSCE observation mission, Didier Boden denounced the unequal access enjoyed by the various parties to the media during the electoral campaign and the threats made by the authorities against the opposition candidates. Many diplomats have said they are worried about the "large number of criminal investigations on-going against politicians". Finally the police forces took over a television channel Albasat TV based in Nisporeni, 60km from Chisinau, which covers 10% of the Moldovan territory without a warrant because it is said to have broadcast several programmes criticizing the Communist authorities.
In addition to this the Communist Party was reprimanded by the Electoral Commission after a complaint was lodged by the Democratic Party accusing it of having enjoyed free electoral advertising for the last two months in the daily newspaper, Kommunist, one of the most read papers in Moldova.
"I want the Moldovan authorities to do the necessary to enhance the rule of law and to respect their commitments with regard to Human Rights and fundamental liberties. This is particularly valid with regard to the electoral procedure that is due to meet with international standards," declared Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations.
The European Union allocated three million euros to Moldova for the organization of the election on 5th April (improvement in the legislation and electoral practices). 247 OSCE observers will be present. The Community of Independent States (CIS) will also send some.
The electoral campaign started on 9th March on the airwaves. Political leaders each have 11 minutes in all to present their programme and to answer journalists' questions, a short time against which the Alliance Our Moldova has protested accusing the Communist Party of trying to reduce adversaries' debates. The Alliance is accusing the Communist leaders of having transferred a major part of their assets abroad to protect themselves if they lose.
According to the latest opinion poll undertaken by the State Political Institute only three parties are due to rise beyond the obligatory 6% threshold of the votes cast to be represented in Parliament. The survey credits the Communist Party with 36.2%, the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM), 8.3% and the Liberal Party (PL) 8.2%. Nearly one quarter of the electorate (23%) say that they still have not decided and 6.8% say they do not want to vote. 48% say they are confident in the outgoing President Vladimir Voronin, 43% in the present Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii; the President of Parliament, Marian Lupu (PRCM), achieves 36% and the young mayor of Chisinau, vice-president of the Liberal Party, Dorin Chirtoaca, 32%. Finally 40% believe that the general elections will not be transparent or fair.