Participation of voters from the Transnistrian region at the presidential elections: challenges and solutions

23 October 2020

The Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE), in partnership with Privesc.EU and with the support of the Hanns Seidel Foundation, organized on Thursday, October 22, 2020, the ninth #EUDebatesCafe online video conference, dedicated to the participation of voters from the Transnistrian region in this  presidential election.

The speakers of the event, which was moderated by Mihai Mogildea, Team Leader, IPRE’s Europeanization Program, referred to the current challenges related to the participation of the Moldovan citizens residing in the Transnistrian region to the presidential elections and the solutions proposed by authorities to mediate the existing issues.

Please find bellow the key interventions of the speakers:

Cristina Lesnic, Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration: “We have focused on two important aspects. On the one hand, the security of the electoral process and, on the other hand, the security of the citizens who will participate in this exercise. Based on the epidemiological situation related to COVID-19, I mentioned that this aspect must be taken into account when organizing and determining the polling stations. The data provided by the Public Services Agency show a rather positive increase in the number of citizens of the Republic of Moldova, who documented themselves with Moldovan IDs and passports after obtaining the visa liberalization regime with the EU. This is positive, because the citizens of the Republic of Moldova, who live on the left bank of the Dniester, are entitled, under legal conditions, to participate in political life. The polling stations where the citizens of the Transnistrian region will be able to vote are located in 22 localities on the right bank of the Dniester. Most of them are in Sănătăuca, Rezina and Varnița. In 11 localities, there are two polling stations, and in eight localities, there is one polling station. At least for November 1st, when the election will take place, Tiraspol will allow the movement of Moldovan citizens to express their right to vote, but we will continue to monitor this process, as their behavior may be unpredictable.

Dorin Cimil, President of the Central Electoral Commission: “For the establishment of polling stations for the residents of the Transnistrian region, a series of actions were carried out, which were placed on the CEC website. Thus, on 11thSeptember a number of over 248 thousand voters residing on the left bank of the Dniester were registered. We have developed an action plan on identifying and deciding on concrete localities, where polling stations will be opened. As for the problems, we identified that three of the 10 districts do not have communication routes between the banks of the Dniester, this being Orhei, Soroca and Soldanesti. A preliminary list was made with the polling stations that we plan to open in the localities. Thus, it was decided to open 42 polling stations, including for the citizens of Bender and Causeni. Regarding the ban on organized transportation of citizens to the polls, these cases will to be documented by the police”.

Sergiu Golovaci, Secretary of State, Ministry of Internal Affairs: “Some actions have already been taken regarding the good organization of the elections on November 1st. Among them are: ensuring the security of all voters participating in the elections, both those on the right and left bank of the Dniester, ensuring security and public order in the places where the meetings with the electoral contestants take place, ensuring the security of electoral bodies and local public authorities in order to secure the voting process, escorting ballots and ensuring their integrity. However, the main concern is that the free movement of citizens located in the Transnistrian region could be restricted, under the pretext of the quarantine regime established by the separatist authorities in Tiraspol. The separatist authorities on the left bank of the Dniester have established a so-called quarantine regime, installing illegal posts, which obstruct free movement in the security zone. And on the right bank there are certain impediments. In some localities, local authorities are trying in every way to prevent the opening of polling stations for citizens on the left bank of the Dniester. It is possible that on the election day, we will have some protests from activists trying to obstruct the voting process. There could also be attempts to restrict the access for the citizens residing on the left bank of the Dniester”.

Pavel Postică, Program Director, Promo-Lex Association: I would highlight two fundamental aspects related to this elections. We need to look at the whole issue of voting in the Transnistrian region from the perspective of defining the right to vote. Then we have to talk about the right to vote and, secondly, the right to vote consciously. When we talk about the first one, we have to analyze several normative acts, which have already been adopted by the authorities. When in 2016 the Constitutional Court analyzed the election results, it emphasized a very important thing. It made it clear: the right to vote is not an absolute right and can be limited. Another decision of the Court, from 2017, stipulates that part of the territory of the Republic of Moldova, namely the Transnistrian region, is a territory under the occupation of the Russian Federation, because there are deployed military troops and military units of Russia. And now the question is self-evident: can, for example, the right to vote for voters in the Transnistrian region be limited according to those provisions of the Constitutional Court? Obviously, yes, anyone will say yes, in these circumstances this right may be limited. Who can limit this right? Obviously, the only institution that can limit this definitive or absolute right is the Parliament”.

For more details, you can watch the video recording of the event here.

The event was organized within the project “EU DEBATES CAFÉ: Advancing knowledge and expertise on EU institutions and policies in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by IPRE in cooperation with the Hanns Seidel Foundation in the Republic of Moldova and with the financial support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.


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