From the 26th of November till the 3rd of December 2014 I participated on behalf of the EIDP in the Election Observation Mission in Moldova, which was coordinated by the Danish partner organization SILBA.
The reason I took part in the Election Observation Mission is because I believe that EU-citizens have an important role not only within the European Union, but on the international stage as well. Although we did not help resolve Moldova’s political and economical challenges I am confident that our presence gave a strong signal to the population that we are supporting them in achieving their democratic goals. Therefore, looking back I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to be part of this phenomenal experience. Thanks to the mission I did not only gain first hand election observation experience, but I acquired also an insight in the political system of Moldova.
Exactly one year before the parliamentary elections Moldova signed, at a summit meeting in Vilnius between European Union and six former Soviet republics, two major agreements that cover political cooperation, reforms and free trade. That was the day that elections in Moldova became tense. The rapprochement by the EU with the Eastern Bloc represents a big opportunity for Moldova. Consequently, it was feared that Russia would do everything it can to sabotage the parliamentary elections. With Ukraine in mind, a neighbouring country, there was a fear for déjà vu. Not a foolish thought since there are Russian soldiers present in Transnistria, which is about 60 km away from the capital Chișinău. However, on Election Day, the 30th of November, none of that doomsday scenario came true. On that day I was assigned to a group with two other short term election observers from Denmark. During the Election Day my two Danish teammates and I monitored the voting process in the voting stations within the area that was assigned to us. Systematic fraud and persistent voter intimidation has not been observed throughout the day. Neither did other irregularities, such as family voting and inconsistent adherence to procedures, occur on a wide basis. After a long day of elections it became clear that the majority of the citizens of the Republic of Moldova voted for the three parties in favour of closer integration with the European Union. By choosing EU above Russia they rejected de facto the Eurasian economic union, a Russian-dominated customs union. However, the choice was not easy. According to Dumitru Ciorici, a journalist from the News site Unimedia, for most voters the election represented a choice between “pro-European crooks and pro-Russian crooks”. It is not a secret that the country is plagued by corruption since the fall of the Soviet Union.
The only grave incident that occurred was the disqualification of Mr. Usatii’s Patria party. One day before the Election Day Moldova’s supreme court upheld an earlier ruling that the pro-Moscow party should be barred from the election due to illegal financing from abroad.
Prior to the Election Day the week was packed with activities such as workshops, briefings, brush-up election observation techniques courses, discussions and presentations. Thanks to these activities I received an insight in Moldova’s geopolitical situation. There were also plenty other opportunities to share ideas with each other and local students from the State University of Moldova. In the evening there was plenty of time to taste local food and enjoy delicious Moldovan red wine. As a short term election observer I had the honour to meet exceptional people from different backgrounds, who share the same interest and democratic values, and become very good friends with some of them. Therefore, I would recommend all students who are impassioned about law and international relations, in particular regarding to policies concerning former Soviet republics, to take part in EIDP’s activities. In my case the EIDP enabled me to experience the challenges of democracy and to promote civic election monitoring in Moldova.
Written by Said Hakimi
Some photos of election day have been put up on our Facebook.