Lawmakers voted to overhaul Moldova’s electoral system on Thursday, as thousands of opposition activists massed outside saying the changes favored the two largest parties. A smaller group of activists rallied nearby backing the measures, which they say will bring voters closer to the people who represent them. Prime Minister Pavel Filip pushed to replace the proportional electoral system with a mixed scheme which will let voters cast their ballot for constituency candidates as well as party lists.
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Moldova.
Several thousand people took part in demonstrations across Moldova on Sunday, protesting both in favor of and against proposed changes to the electoral system that European rights experts see as “inappropriate”. The pro-European ruling coalition has been seeking to change the voting system in time for a parliamentary election next year, when its parties will be in a tough fight with pro-Moscow rivals who reject closer integration with Europe. Chanting “We will not surrender!”, some 4,000 protesters gathered in central Chisinau, appealing to the Venice Commission, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United States to prevent the changes coming into force.
A plan by Moldova to change the way it conducts elections is “inappropriate”, European rights experts commissioned to study the proposal have concluded, dealing a blow to the ex-Soviet state’s pro-European ruling coalition. The speaker of the Moldovan parliament, an ally of Prime Minister Pavel Filip, said the ruling coalition would take on board some of the technical findings, but took issue with others, saying the experts had overstepped their remit. The prime minister and his allies had been seeking to change the voting system in time for a parliamentary election next year, when his party will be in a tough fight with pro-Moscow rivals, led by President Igor Dodon, who reject closer integration with Europe.
The pro-Russian winner of Moldova’s presidential election said on Monday he would push for early parliamentary elections next year to force out a government that favors closer ties with the European Union. New elections would mean yet more instability for Moldova, where a $1 billion graft scandal in 2014 badly damaged trust in pro-EU leaders and resulted in the prime minister being jailed. The impoverished country has had four premiers since then. Igor Dodon won Sunday’s election after campaigning for the scrapping of a trade deal the former Soviet state signed with Brussels in 2014. He told Russian state television voters had “united and voted for friendship with Russia, for neutrality”. “A very serious combat is ahead but we are ready for this combat,” he said, referring to an election he wants to bring forward to next year, from 2018.
Moldova’s pro-Russian presidential candidate Igor Dodon has declared victory in Sunday’s presidential runoff vote, holding a commanding lead in the former Soviet republic with nearly all votes counted. With 97 percent of all ballots tallied late Sunday, Dodon, who campaigned on promises to restore closer ties with Russia, held a commanding 55.3 to 44.7 percent lead over pro-Europe rival Maia Sandu. “We have won, everyone knows it,” Dodon said at a late night news conference. Final results are expected early Monday in the impoverished country of 3.5 million. Dodon, who came close to winning the presidency outright in the first round of voting two weeks ago, also has pledged to foster good relations with Moldova’s neighbors, Romania and Ukraine. However, such appeasement gestures may face stiff resistance in Kyiv by many who object to Dodon’s support for Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
On October 30, 2016, for the first time in 20 years, Moldovans went to the polls to elect their president directly. Before the March 2016 Constitutional Court ruling, which reintroduced direct elections, it was the national legislature that elected the head of state, provided that a 61 vote majority could be reached in a Parliament of 101 members. Unsurprisingly, the three fifths majority was hard to achieve in an increasingly divided and partisan political climate. This situation was, in turn, a result of a proportional electoral system typical to a nascent post-Soviet electoral democracy plagued by paternalism, corruption, and parochial political culture. In light of hasty constitutional change, viewed by many as an attempt by the government to defuse the opposition protest movement sparked by the infamous billion dollar scandal, the campaign season was very short. Of the 24 candidates who ventured into the race, only twelve were able to collect enough signatures of support in order to be registered by the Central Election Commission. Of those twelve, only nine made it to election day. Two candidates withdrew, and the third one was excluded by a court ruling on charges of breaking campaign finance laws.
Moldova’s presidential election will go to a runoff between the pro-Russian front-runner and a pro-European candidate who both tapped into widespread anger about corruption. With almost all ballots counted Monday, Igor Dodon had 48.3 percent, falling short of the majority of votes needed for outright victory in the first round. In the Nov. 13 runoff, he will face Maia Sandu who scored 38.4 percent. Dodon’s strong result in Sunday’s voting reflected widespread dissatisfaction with the pro-European government which has been in office since 2009. Moldovans are angry about the more than $1 billion that went missing from the banking system in 2014 and accuse authorities of covering up the loss. Moldova’s president shapes the country’s foreign policy and appoints judges but major decisions need approval from Parliament, where pro-European politicians have a majority. However, this is the first time Moldovans have elected a president by popular vote in 20 years, giving the post more authority and influence.
Moldova’s presidential election will go to a second round, preliminary results showed early on Monday, after a pro-Russian socialist candidate fell short of winning sufficient support to achieve all-out victory. With 99.5 percent of votes counted, preliminary results showed candidate Igor Dodon, who wants to reverse Moldova’s course toward European integration, had won 48.5 percent, and his main pro-European challenger, Maia Sandu, had 38.2 percent. Dodon needed to win 51 percent of votes to avoid a run-off on Nov. 13. “I hope that the results of today’s vote and of the Nov. 13 run-off will bring about both change and stability: change by the election by popular vote of a pro-European president; stability in the functioning of a reform-driven triangle – president, government, Parliament,” Prime Minister Pavel Filip said in a statement. The Central Election Commission will announce the final results of the first round within the next five days.
Voters in Moldova will choose their president for the first time in 20 years in elections seen as a tug-of-war between Russia and the European Union for influence. Nine candidates are contesting Sunday’s elections in the former Soviet republic, with polls showing the most likely outcome will be a run-off between the pro-Russian Socialist Party’s Igor Dodon and the pro-European Action and Solidarity’s Maia Sandu. “What’s at stake in this election, and I’m not exaggerating, is for the Republic of Moldova to be or not to be,” Dodon, 41, said in a phone interview Thursday. “Will the current authorities, who mocked the people for seven years and created a corrupt oligarchic system, stay or will changes start?”
The government-backed candidate in Moldova’s presidential race withdrew on Wednesday, saying it was a tactical move to ensure the presidency remained in pro-European hands. The frontrunner ahead of Sunday’s election is pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon, who wants to hold a referendum on the ex-Soviet nation’s Association Agreement with the EU. On Wednesday government choice Marian Lupu said he would step aside to boost the chances of fellow pro-Western candidate Maia Sandu. Sandu last week told Reuters that a split among pro-European politicians could harm Moldova. “This is a tactical decision. Moldova needs a pro-European president. Polls show she (Sandu) is more favored,” Lupu told journalists.