On March 6th, 2017, the Democratic Party of Moldova publicly announced their initiative to modify the electoral system from the proportional one, based on party lists, to a majority one, based on uninominal constituencies. This initiative dominated the public agenda of Spring 2017. The aggressive campaign to promote the change raised suspicions about the real intention behind it. Our main concern was that, on the eve of the 2018 parliamentary elections, the ruling parties, aware of their low ratings, want to influence the rules of the game in their own favor.
CPR Moldova has supported the efforts to raise awareness in the Moldovan society and development partners about the dangers of this reform, and has also proposed alternative viable solutions.
February 20, 2017
Through this study, we urged the development partners of the Republic of Moldova to discourage any initiative to modify the electoral system and to further support the building of the rule of law, political pluralism, media freedom and independence in the Republic of Moldova:
“Before initiating any debate regarding the change of the electoral system, the Republic of Moldova needs to complete some key actions such as:
• ensure real transparency of political party financing and decrease substantially the maximum donation threshold;
• dismantle the monopolies on the mass media and advertising market and limit political influence on the mass media;
• ensure that the justice system is protected from oligarchic and political influence;
• ensure the effective protection of opposition forces, condemning and neutralizing any attempts of attack on the opposition”.
Two parliamentary groups of the European Parliament launch a joint statement condemning the intention to change the electoral system in the Republic of Moldova:
“Any attempt [of the Democratic Party] to bring about such a change without the full backing of the opposition and of civil society will lead the EPP and ALDE to demand that all European funding be stopped”.
Although the Speaker of the Parliament, Andrian Candu, promissed that the draft law on the change of the electoral system will not be voted prior to the final opinion of the Venice Commission, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova, in violation of procedures and in a non-transparent manner, votes, in a first reading, the two draft laws – the Democratic Party’s draft on the introduction of the uninominal electoral system and the draft law of the Socialist Party’s on the introduction of the mixed electoral system.
On the same day, the Moldovan civil society begins the series of daily peaceful protests, in front of the Parliament building. CPR Moldova was one of the organizations that joined the efforts to raise public awareness through peaceful protests.
Together with other civil society organizations, we have signed a subsequent joint statement: “The parliamentary majority intends to change the electoral system, in violation of the legislation and common sense, undermining the principles of democracy.”
Peaceful protest in front of the Parliament building, with 3-5 thousand participants.
Throughout the day, there have been several cases of violations by the authorities, who have openly taken action to prevent people to joining the demonstration, thus violating people’s right to peaceful assembly.
As a result of the actions of the authorities to discourage peaceful protests, CPR appeals to the Government, demanding attitude towards the violation of the people’s right to free assembly, the initiation of an investigation of the actions and inactions of the authorities in this regard, as well as the prevention of future violations:
“When those who are supposed to enforce the law are seen breaking it, the state fails its own citizens”.
CPR Moldova co-signs an article for bne IntelliNews describing how the proposed electoral reform could strike a direct blow to democracy, human rights, freedom of speech and the press, the fight against corruption and the investigation of financial crimes.
“The modification to the electoral system is seen by many to be in the interest of a select number of oligarchs, not the citizens of Moldova.“
The Parliaments votes in the second hearing to change the electoral system, with breach of procedure, minimum transparency and defying the opinion of the Venice Commission.
The final draft of the legislation was published 24 hours before the vote and the voting took only four minutes.
The ammendment was supported by 74 out of 101 MP’s from three political fractions: Democratic Party of Moldova, European People’s Party of Moldova, and the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova.
Peaceful protests break out.
CPR Moldova continues to raise awareness about the new electoral system risks to democracy and pluralism in the Republic of Moldova.
The online campaign “Mixed system is…” is launched.
The EU announces that it will not transfer any further funds to the Moldovan state budget to support reforms in the justice sector.
The EU has closely observed the reform process and noted that the Moldovan authorities showed insufficient commitment to reforming the justice sector in 2014 and 2015. With insufficient allocation of funds and personnel, the necessary reforms have not been carried out. As a result, progress has not been sufficient.
This means that the Moldovan authorities have not fulfilled the EU’s conditions for receiving the last financial transfer under the justice reform programme, which amount to EUR 28 million.
CPR Moldova co-signs a public appeal on the limited transparency and deficiencies of the process of adopting the draft decision on the establishment of uninominal constituencies.
Signatory CSOs are concerned by the limited transparency of the activity of the National Commission for the establishment of permanent uninominal constituencies, and asks the Government of Moldova to include public consultations in the decision-making process.
CPR Moldova joined the civic initiative on repealling the mixed electoral system by means of a legislative referendum, and participated in the launch conference.
The initiative foresees:
- the initiation of a legislative referendum to repeal the Law no. 154 of July 20, 2017, concerning the adoption of the mixed electoral system;
- the initiation of broad public consultations on the basis of a new electoral Law, drafted by civil society experts aimed at improving the proportional electoral system and electoral legislation in general, to be further promoted by Parliamentary mean.
We have invited all citizens, public organizations and political parties to get involved in the initiative group that will collect the over 200 thousand signatures necessary to initiate the legislative referendum. We have also asked international and local organizations to monitor the creation and further work of the initiative group, as well as the organization of the referendum.
CPR Moldova participated in the 2nd press conference of the initiative group for the initiation of the legislative referendum on the repeal of the mixed electoral system.
During the conference, the main organizational aspects associated with the initiative were presented to the public.
During the “Important” TV show, broadcaster by TVC 21, Iurie Ciocan, Director of the governmental Center for the Implementation of Reforms, confirmed several of the reasons why CPR Moldova, together with other NGOs, was against the introduction of the mixed electoral system, from the very beginning. Some of our arguments were confirmed directly, while were not directly denied.
These provisions, taken together, will negatively affect pluralism and democracy in our country.
Iurie Cecan explicitly referred to four issues that alarm us – the participation of youth, diaspora representation, the creation of the constituencies and the legitimacy of a person who will be elected as MP in a single tour of elections (e.g. with only 20% of the total votes).
CPR Moldova elaborated a video material comparing Mr. Ciocan’s statements with our initial arguments against the mixed electoral system.