Mission to observe local elections in Moldova, 5 June 2011

      Statement by the Head of the delegation, Ms Britt-Marie Loevgren, Sweden, at the press conference

      6 June 2011, 3 pm, Hotel Leogrand, Chisinau.

      Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.

      Thank you for giving me the opportunity to present the preliminary findings, from the angle of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. Before doing so, I would like to say a few words on the specific role of the Congress. Why we observed these elections and how we did it.

      The Congress consists of more than 600 elected representatives of territorial bodies in the 47 member countries of the Council of Europe. This is greater Europe – and comprises EU members and also non-member states. Moldova is member of our Congress - this is one reasons why we were here to observe these elections.

      Now to the question regarding how we observe elections. Congress members are mayors, municipal councillors or regional elected representatives of 47 member states. We are all politicians and therefore do not carry out a technical assessment of the electoral process, as our colleagues from ODIHR do – let me thank them at this stage for the great job they did, as usual, and for the fruitful and inspiring co-operation we had.

      Congress election observation is carried out on a peer-to-peer basis with a focus on a political assessment of the whole electoral process as well as of conditions which are key for the functioning of democracy and for genuinely democratic elections, for example: the political system, the election campaign, the role of the media and the financing of parties and campaigns. I will speak about his later.

      The Congress delegation comprised 16 local elected representatives of 14 European countries, including 4 members of the EU Committee of the Regions (my colleague Vainno is the speaker of this group). Teams of our delegation were deployed to 9 different regions throughout the country (Chisinau, the environment of Chisinau, Cocieri and the South-East of Moldova, Orhei and the environment, Balti, Edinet and the environment, Calarasi and the environment, Gagauzia and the South-West of Moldova). In total, approximately 150 polling stations were visited by the Congress teams.

      With regard to general assessment, I would like to underline what Gerald said before and confirm that – from Congress and EU Committee of the Regions perspective – these elections marked a further step in the right direction. In particular, if we compare the organisational framework of yesterday’s elections with what we had observed at the local elections four years ago.

      We were also satisfied to see a vibrant campaign and we believe that contestants mostly behaved in a responsible manner – although there were some incidents that were not so positive. Also, we were pleased to hear that media acted, in general, more professionally than in the past.

      So, if you ask me if there was progress, we can say, yes, there was indeed. If you ask if everything was satisfactory, I must say, no, it was not.

      In respect of challenges for the Moldovan authorities, I would like to highlight three points:

      - the accuracy of the voters’ lists (our colleague from ODIHR has mentioned the shortcomings in detail);

      - the issue of campaign and party financing (definitely, there is a need for transparency in this respect)

      - and thirdly, and this is connected with the verification of voters’ lists: the role of local authorities in the electoral process. If local authorities are in charge of important parts of election administration, then legislation has to be clear about all of the details. If local authorities are in charge for the up-dating of the voters’ lists, then they should be given the necessary resources.

      Local democracy as enshrined in the Congress Charter of Local Self-Government needs transfer of powers and transfer of resources. Moldova has to do a lot in this respect in the future. The Council of Europe Congress is ready to assist – and will carry out already in September a monitoring mission to follow-up on this issue.

      I thank you for your attention.