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Western Observers Press Reform Hopes

OSCE observers in Sociteni on July 29

OSCE observers in Sociteni on July 29

Western institutions' initial conclusions about the Moldovan elections are no major surprise, since they stress that "the process underscored the need for continued democratic reforms to restore public trust."

But they did seem a bit more upbeat than many would have expected going into the vote, particularly given Moldovan authorities' fondness for expelling their counterparts.

A quick tally shows "positive/good" edging out "negative" 3-2 in the joint (OSCE, ODIHR, PACE, and European Parliament) press release.

The money quote comes from the head of the European Parliament's delegation:

"We cannot say, unfortunately, that these elections complied with all international criteria. However, the overall assessment of election day is positive. Yet, without structural democratic change, Moldova will not be able to meet its challenges. The way forward is not less but more democracy. On this road, the EU will be on the side of Moldova," said Marian-Jean Marinescu, head of the delegation of the European Parliament.

The observers repeatedly criticize administrative and media advantages enjoyed by the ruling Communists:

The observers noted that election day was well-organized and calm, and proceedings were generally assessed as positive. While the campaign took place in a highly polarized atmosphere, candidates were overall able to campaign across the country. The misuse of administrative resources, however, had a negative effect on the equality of campaign opportunities. Methods of subtle pressure and intimidation were used by the authorities to control the campaign environment.

The media offered voters information about key contestants, but the main TV channels failed to provide impartial and balanced coverage, favouring the ruling party both in terms of time and tone.

Election administration bodies operated transparently and overall in a professional manner. Despite some efforts to improve the quality of voter lists, voter registration lacked uniformity and observers identified shortcomings in the accuracy of voter lists on election day.

Western monitors appear to have salved their killer instinct in their lambasting of the Kyrgyz presidential election.

-- Andy Heil