Strasbourg, 21 September 1999
CG/BUR (6) 58
Monitoring of the local elections in Gagauzia (Republic of Moldova) 22 August 1999 Declaration by the delegation
Information Document examined by the Bureau of the Congress on 3 September 1999
Final Declaration by the delegation of the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe which helped to monitor the elections of the Governor (Bashkan) and the People's Assembly of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia (Republic of Moldova), which were held on 22 August 1999
In response to the invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Moldova and the request by the Gagauz authorities, and as part of its efforts to further the development of genuine local and regional democracy in the Republic of Moldova, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe sent a delegation to the Republic of Moldova from 20 to 24 August 1999 to help monitor the elections of the Governor and the People's Assembly of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia (ATUG), which were held on 22 August 1999.
The delegation was able to obtain information about the current electoral system and the run-up to the election, observed 11 polling stations out of 62 on Election Day and also took note of the first results.
In-depth discussions with members of the OSCE Mission who had carefully monitored these elections helped the CLRAE Delegation to carry out its work and confirmed the specific observations it had made.
There is good reason to be satisfied with the running of these elections, which the delegation considers to be of paramount importance for the development of pluralist democracy in the ATUG.
As regards the elections, the delegation noted that, on the whole, electors were able to vote freely, the ballot was secret and the standard of organisation of the ballot and the counting of the votes was satisfactory.
Furthermore, many improvements were noted in the voting procedure as a result of the comments sent to the Moldovan authorities by the CLRAE after it had monitored the local elections of 23 May 1999. These comments concerned the presence in polling stations of persons who had not specifically been provided for in the electoral code, the number of electors gathering in the polling stations, the number of people registered on supplementary lists, surveillance of the ballot boxes and publication of the election results.
Nevertheless, a few anomalies must be pointed out and a number of improvements can still be made. In particular:
1. there were contradictory interpretations of the electoral regulations;
2. the delegation received several accounts of the running of the electoral campaign and candidates' access to the media which suggested that there had been unequal treatment;
3. defamatory material was disseminated;
4. police officers were present in all the polling stations visited by the delegation despite the remarks made by the CLRAE on this very subject following its monitoring of the local elections of 23 May 1999;
5. electors' identities were not rigorously verified in accordance with the electoral code in some of the polling stations visited by the delegation;
6. improvements could be made to the handling of ballot papers by electoral officials and the counting of votes (especially regarding the exactness of the total number of votes cast, despite recommendations on this point having been made to the Moldovan authorities on several occasions by observers of other elections);
7. better training was needed for polling station officials and observers.
The detailed observations made by the delegation will be sent to Bureau of the CLRAE, which will examine them and decide whether or not they should be included in the final report on local and regional democracy in the Republic of Moldova that the CLRAE will submit to the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers after it has been adopted.