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2 July 2020
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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

US election fever catches on in Chisinau

While Moldova gears up for the November parliamentary elections, on 20 October students at ULIM university were discussing some very different upcoming elections.
Moldova Azi, 22 October 2010, 16:22
Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, enjoying the debate she organized in front of Ramsay McLauchlan, speaking from his campaign office via Internet.
Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan, enjoying the debate she organized in front of Ramsay McLauchlan, speaking from his campaign office via Internet.

A transatlantic forum, organized by Dr. Judithanne Scourfield McLaughan, a Fulbright Scholar and visiting lecturer from the University of Florida, allowed young Moldovans to talk to political experts in the US about the ‘mid-term elections' being held across the fifty American states next month. Dr. McLaughan, an advocate of civic engagement, who has previously worked in the White House as well as the U.S Supreme Court, explained her motivation behind the staging of the event was not only to provide more information about US politics, but also "to introduce ways to be engaged in politics in a positive, constructive way".

Students listened as speakers Leslie Waters, a Republican, and Ramsey McLaughan, a Democratic, spoke live from their respective campaign offices in Tampa Bay, Florida about the electoral races currently underway in their state. Why the focus on Florida? Aside from being Dr. McLaughan's home state it is also the US's fourth largest, with about 18 and half million people, and is considered a major political battleground both on a national as well as a local level. "Some of our states we call blue states, that means that they are Democratic states, some states are red for Republican, but Florida is known as the purple state" explained Dr. McLaughan, "it's kind of in-between, and very competitive".

On November 2, Americans will be turning out to vote for members of the United States Congress, including the 435 seats of the House of Representatives, of which 25 are elected in Florida. Around a third of the 50 states, including Florida will also be reelecting state senators. State level elections take place every two years in the US, but those which fall in between the presidential elections, held every four years, are known as ‘mid-terms'. They are often seen as a gauge of public opinion on the serving government, in this case President Obama's administration. "Usually it means that the Presidential party will lose seats" stated McLaughan, "so people are really watching the mood of the country, the mood of the voters now, and trying to see what will happen in 2012 at the next presidential elections".

This year's senatorial race in the sunshine state, as Florida is often referred to, has been described as ‘the one to watch'. Unusually there are three candidates in the running, the Democrat Kendrick Meek and the Republican Marco Rubio as well as an independent Charlie Crist. Crist, currently the Governor of Florida, caused controversy as Leslie Waters explained, "he has been Republican for his entire life [...] but quit his party earlier this year. So it's a three way race, which is very exciting".

With Crist running for Senate, the speakers discussed what is thought to be the most hotly contested vote, the one to elect his successor for governor. The Democrat Alex Sink is currently squaring up against Republican Rick Scott, which led the discussion on to campaign finance, and how much US candidates are willing to spend in order to get themselves elected into public office. Waters commented on how she felt that this issue had become "out of control" in recent years with Scott, spending $50 million of his own money on his campaign to become the state's next governor. However, both speakers agreed that it takes a significant amount of money for candidates to get their message out to the voters.

The money is spent in different ways: from the traditional badges and stickers to door hangers and bumper stickers. But along with mass mailings to constituents and the increasing use of TV adverting, running electoral campaigns, even those that are just state-wide as opposed to national, is nevertheless an expensive business. For those who cannot afford to bankroll their own campaigns, like Scott's main rival for the Governor's position, Alex Sink, effective fundraising is crucial. However, money is not everything as Sink, who has ‘only' raised $10 million so far on her campaign, is currently ahead of Scott in the polls.

With two weeks left until election day, Waters and R McLaughan described this period as ‘silly season', when campaigns begin to throw huge amounts of money into last minute advertising hoping to sway voters opinions. But R McLaughan was keen to point there are lots of inexpensive ways to get involved in a campaign from putting out signs to helping distribute flyers. Most importantly, he concluded to the forum's Moldovan participants - "Enjoy, and always vote!"

Dr Judithanne Scourfield McLaughan, is a Fulbright Scholar, ULIM, Assosciate Professor, Political Science, Founding Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at the University of South Florida.

Ramsey McLaughan, is Chairman of the Pinallas Country, Florida Democratic Party and a former Democratic elected official.

Leslie Waters is the former Speak Pro Temp of the Florida House of Representatives and a current Republican elected official.

 

Susan Coughtrie and Lucas Farcy for Moldova Azi

 



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