Pre-Election Passions Run High: CEC “Neutralized” the Moldovan Diaspora

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Sergiu CEBAN The election campaign is entering the phase of acute confrontation, when all available resources are being used. The CEC decision not to increase the number of polling stations abroad is in fact, the Communists and Socialists’ bloc first counteroffensive over the last period of time By the end of this week, the Central Election Commission will finalize the registration of electoral competitors and start preparing a ballot paper. Meanwhile, the information space is increasingly saturated with various meanings and increased importance of the upcoming elections. The latter seem to be again presented as “fateful” for our country, since they will predetermine the life and development of the state for the coming decades which is to namely be an irreversible movement towards a pro-Western course and gradual integration into a single European space. In this regard, very opportune sounded the statements of the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, who spoke in favor of Balkan states’ accession to the European Union. He noted that EU enlargement can bring enormous benefits both for the region and for Europe as a whole. Despite the fact that the statement referred to a specific set of candidate countries, this signal appears to somewhat be encouraging for Moldova, which, under a certain set of circumstances and a stable 5-10-year implementation of the pro-European course, is as well capable of obtaining a candidate status. Indeed, from the geographical point of view, the republic can be considered as a country located in a common Balkan area. As I have already noted, for the pro-presidential Action and Solidarity party, one of the important tasks now is to find a way for a slight increase in the rating, which has stabilized at certain values that do not quite suit the leaders of the political formation. It is possible that at the end of the election campaign, PAS may offer some parties (the same Andrei Nastase and several unionist projects) in exchange for complicity in governing the country at the expense of specific posts and state institutions to withdraw from the race in its favor. The goal is to prevent the mandates of parties that have not passed the 5% threshold, in one proportion or another, from communists and socialists. Obviously, such an initiative it to be seriously considered by the end of June, when sociologists will present a more or less objective picture and the chances of the participants in the electoral competition. For the Communists and Socialists bloc it is not so important to build up its electoral base as to reduce the sources of the influx of votes from its competitors. This can explain the recent CEC decision to preserve the same number of polling stations for the diaspora as in the past presidential elections - 139. At the same time, the MFAEI proposed opening 190 polling stations, taking into account the experience of the December voting (queues and shortage of ballots), as well as the numbers of previously registered foreign voters, whose number exceeded 100 thousand. And although initially the draft decision of the CEC assumed a compromise increase to 162, but the secretary of the Commission, Maxim Lebedinschi, close to the party of socialists, still insisted on 139. Of course, this is the way that communists and socialists (who control the majority of the CEC members) plan to limit the further growth of the diaspora's share in the overall voting structure (and at the same time neutralize all possible accompanying manipulations and violations, which, as experience shows, the left forces can no way influence), and that is precisely practically all parties and blocs of the pro-Western and unionist wing are counting on. Another notable episode is that the Central Election Commission decided to open two additional precincts for Transdniestrian voters, including in the city of Bender. So far, experts and journalists are only wondering what exactly the CEC had in mind and how in reality it is possible to organize elections in accordance with the current legislation on the territory of this city. As you know, only two penitentiary institutions, a police commissariat and a lyceum are under administrative control in Bendery. Meanwhile, there is also a common headquarters of the peacekeeping forces, where a polling station for Russian citizens is periodically opened, which in theory can also be considered as a possible alternative. This version is also supported by the fact that in his commentary Maxim Lebedinschi referred to while expecting the JCC decision regarding opening two sections in the city. Preserving the same number of polling stations abroad, the significant increase in the number of voters if delivering ballot boxes to Bendery creates serious challenges for the PAS leaders, who, apparently, after their tactical victory and early elections provoking, are being in a kind of pacification and expectation of an inevitable post-election triumph. The adopted decisions of the Central Executive Committee are in fact, the Communists and Socialists’ bloc first counteroffensive over the last period of time which, apparently, has completed all the necessary preparations. This also means that the election campaign is entering the phase of acute pre-election confrontation, when all available opportunities and resources are being used. The fact that the blow was sensitive is confirmed, among other things, by the immediate reaction of Maia Sandu, although, in theory, the head of state should remain equidistant from such issues, which correlate with the interests of a party close to her. There is no doubt that the reduced number of precincts will negatively affect the PAS final result, which planned to receive significant electoral support from the diaspora, since voting in a national constituency obviously excludes any prospect of obtaining enough votes to form a simple majority on its own. Most likely, massive pressure will be exerted on the Central Election Commission in the coming days, through appealing to the courts, as well as organizing protests near our foreign embassies and near the CEC building itself. It is quite expected that foreign diplomats accredited in Chisinau are to also visit the members of the Commission, since by and large they still have enough time to adjust their decision under pressure from the local and foreign public.