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EU Warns Against Planned Changes In Electoral System In Moldova

RFE/RL's Moldovan Service June 20, 2017

The European Union has joined in criticism of planned changes in Moldova's electoral system, saying a national consensus does not exist to make such far-reaching changes.

"The proposed changes raise serious concerns in the current political context," EU spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic said in a June 19 statement, noting that Moldovan political parties are "polarized around this legislative initiative," preventing a "broad consensus" in favor of the changes.

The spokesman warned that "democracy and the rule of law are at the core" of Moldova's Association Agreement with the EU, so if the Moldovan parliament adopts the proposals, the agreement will be reassessed.

Moldova currently elects its parliament under a proportional representation system. The Democratic Party, of which Prime Minister Pavel Filip is a member, wants a mixed system, with some lawmakers elected, as now, on party lists, and others running in first-past-the-post constituency races.

Supporters of the change say having legislators represent particular constituencies would improve the connection between parliament and voters. Opponents say it is an attempt to skew the electoral system in favor of the ruling Democratic Party.

The changes were criticized last week by the Venice Commission and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions, which singled out potential problems with inadequate representation of women and minorities and the risk of influence on political candidates.

The European organizations have also expressed concern that the plans do not contemplate regulation and oversight of political parties and campaign finance.

The shortfalls led the Venice Commission to conclude that "such fundamental change...is not advisable at this time."

Despite these warnings, Moldovan speaker Andrian Candu said the government will go ahead with revising the system.

With reporting by Reuters and AP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/eu-warns- against-planned-changes-electoral-system- moldova-venice-commission/28565671.html

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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