WASHINGTON -- The United States says it welcomes the assessment by international monitors that Moldova’s February 24 parliamentary elections were “competitive and generally” fair, but it adds that it shares concerns about a variety of alleged violations.
A statement by the State Department on February 27 said the United States “congratulates the people of Moldova, the Central Electoral Commission, and the winners in the February 24 parliamentary elections.”
It added that it welcomed the assessment by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that the Balkan country’s parliamentary elections were “competitive and generally respected fundamental rights.”
The State Department added, however, that it shares OSCE concerns of “allegations of bribing voters and misuse of administration resources” and it called on Moldovan authorities to investigate the claims.
“Authorities should also give serious consideration to OSCE, Venice Commission, and other international recommendations for future elections, including clarifying elements of the electoral code,” it added.
The statement said Washington “urges Moldova’s leaders to move quickly to form a new government that respects the will of Moldovan voters and serves the Moldovan people by fighting corruption, promoting judiciary reforms, and securing Moldova’s progress on its democratic trajectory.”
The OSCE released its assessment on February 25, the day after Moldovans headed to the polls as rival political forces are engaged in a tug-of-war between integration with the European Union and closer ties with Moscow.
Although the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission (CEC) said the polls were held without major incidents, both the Socialists and the ACUM alliance have accused the ruling Democrats of massive fraud.
Both the Socialists and Democrats accused each other of vote buying. Election authorities said they will look into the matter.
The pro-Russia Socialists were poised to gain the most seats in the next parliament, but they failed to secure a majority.
The Socialists finished with 31.2 percent of the vote, while ACUM had 26.8 percent, and the Democrats had 23.6 percent.
But the vote was held under a new electoral system that divides the 101-seat parliament into 50 seats elected by party lists and 51 seats by individual face-to-face races.
Initial calculations indicate the Socialists will receive 35 seats, followed by the ruling Democrats, which have called for closer ties with the West, with 30 seats; and ACUM, a pro-European Union coalition that ran on an anticorruption platform, with 26 seats.
The conservative Shor Party will get seven seats, and independent candidates will receive the remaining seats.
ACUM has pledged not to enter into a coalition with either the Socialists or the Democrats.
President Igor Dodon, who headed the Socialist Party until he became president, is a vocal supporter of closer ties with Russia and a staunch ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Chisinau's relations with Russia, however, deteriorated after Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 2014. Russia then placed an embargo on some Moldovan goods. Now, 70 percent of Moldovan exports head to the EU.