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19 October 2019
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Interviews

Gheorghe Russu

Vice-director, The Center for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption

Parties-Phantoms, Parties - State Institutions, Parties - State Enterprises

Ion PREAŞCĂ

20 parties have registered in the current election campaign. Many people say it is a too big number for such a small country as Moldova. At the same time, much more parties could take part in the election campaign.

Last week illustrated
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Activists launch Moldova’s first ‘Space Camp’ © Susan Coughtrie

Vote for Us! Party Political Campaigning in Moldova 2010

"Moldova without poverty" (Moldova fără sărăcie), "Wellbeing, respect, progress" (Bunăstare, respect, progres), "We will bring order to the country" (Noi vom face ordine în ţară): In their quest to win seats, every party has its catchphrase.
Susan Coughtrie and Lucas Farcy, Moldova Azi, 1 December 2010, 12:48

With the highly anticipated parliamentary elections of November 28 now only a few days away, Susan Coughtrie and Lucas Farcy, reflect on political campaigning in Moldova and spoke to some young Moldovans about their opinions on the process here and abroad.

Floating above highways, dangling from car mirrors, stuffed into letter boxes  and even plastered on the side of hot air balloons - the faces, slogans, logos and messages of the Moldovan politicians and their parties have been hard to miss in the republic's capital, Chisinau, lately. Since a new set of early parliamentary elections were announced in late September, the political parties and independent candidates vying for seats in the country's parliament have launched their campaigns. All are hoping to sway voters into marking the crucial cross by their name on the ballot this Sunday.

Given the country's recent political turbulence, Moldova now more than ever needs its people to turn out and vote, something which has been reflected in the campaign. It will be the third time the Moldovan public have gone to vote for their parliamentary representatives in a little over 18 months, and there are concerns that the public are suffering from election fatigue. However, the forty registered electoral competitors, (twenty parties and twenty independent candidates) have gone to great lengths to keep citizens' interest from waning. Over the past month, there has been a constant stream of campaign materials, in a variety of forms, from traditional flyers and posters to TV spots and radio ads, to more modern practices of holding campaign marches and concerts the capital's city centre. But the key questions are: how will these efforts translate into public turnout? And how will the campaign have impacted on the decisions of the voters when they head to the polls?

With regards to the latter, it appears that for some the answer is not significantly - "I think these spots, and posters, have influence on people who have not already chosen for who they are going to vote for," says Valeria Celan, 20 year old Law student at Chisinau's Free International University of Moldova (ULIM), "but for those who know for sure, as I do - seeing another party's posters around the city doesn't influence the decision."

Celan was one of a group of twenty or so ULIM students who recently attended a three day workshop on the very subject of campaigning. Organised by Dr Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, a visiting Fulbright Scholar from America, and entitled "Campaigns in the US: Best Practices", the course offered students insights into how candidates organize their electioneering programs on the other side of the world. While the majority of the young people in attendance had not previously participated in a political campaign, they were interested in finding how to get more involved.

Over the week, Dr. McLauchlan talked through the many aspects of campaigning from the logistical - organisation and staff - to the more creative - getting the right message and clearly disseminating it to the voters. She particularly emphasised the importance of political parties' slogans during an election campaign. According to this advocate of civic engagement, who has organised numerous elections campaigns in the United States, a good slogan must be short and simple. "KISS", for "Keep It Simple, Stupid" is primarily what parties need to keep in mind when they began to plan a campaign. However, considering the vastly different political circumstances, can we consider US campaigning practices to be relevant to Moldova?

The workshop's participants seem to think so: "The timing of this workshop is very real. Not a lot of people come to vote and this is a problem for us, so I think it is good to compare election process' in the US and in Moldova" explained Celan.  

Other students shared her sentiments - "It's interesting for our country to look at other countries politic and campaigning. Moldova is only 20 years old, so we still can learn from the long history of the USA" thought Vladimir Guleac, a third year history and international relations student. According to Teodor Taranu, an economics graduate and law student in second year, "even if all the campaigns are different, they have some similarities. First - everyone is going to vote, and second - there are candidates who want to hold political power".

Yet there are noticeable differences too: "For example, Americans make a lot of steps into making people go out and vote. We don't because parties focus on one category of people, for example students or old people. For the citizens, the election process is not such a big deal and this is a problem", argued Celan. Her solution? - "The parties and the candidates should make a lot of effort on making the people go out and vote".

There is little doubt about the importance of the votes people will cast in this election, and the result, whoever wins, will be seen as a turning point for Moldova. Since the violent events surrounding the parliamentary elections of April 2009, the country has experienced a turbulent political 18 months, and still lacks an officially appointed President. Despite a second snap election in July 2009, which resulted in a change of power, with four smaller opposition parties forming a governing coalition, called the Alliance for European Integration, a sense of political instability still remains. A failure to reach the required voter turnout in September's referendum, on whether to have a directly elected President, was perhaps a prime example of voter fatigue facing many Moldovan citizens.

Nevertheless, along with the formation of a new parliament in Republic of Moldova, the results of Sunday's elections will also show how successful the intensive campaign made by the political parties, - and played out on the walls and billboards, on the television sets, and in letterboxes of Chisinau - has been.

 



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