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Local elections in Moldova soon: expectations and reality

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On October 20th, 2019, local elections will be held in Moldova, in parallel with repeated snap parliamentary elections in 4 single-seat constituencies, as the Central Electoral Commission’s (CEC) website displays.

The most important fight will take place in the Moldovan capital where a new mayor of Chișinău will be elected. Up till today, 19 candidates were registered in the electoral competition.

Just like at the Chișinău Mayoral Elections in June 2018, the leaders of the electoral competition are Ion Ceban – the candidate representing the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) and Andrei Năstase – the representative of the Electoral Bloc ACUM, shows a WatchDog.md and CBS-AXA report.

One more thing that remains unchanged is the level of satisfaction of inhabitants of Chisinau regarding the way the city looks like. According to a recent survey conducted by Magenta Consulting, 70% of people who live in Chișinău are not content with the current situation, considering that the poor condition of roads and public transportation, lack of cleanliness and parking places, as well as traffic jams are the main problems of the capital city.

Most people expect the new mayor to solve the problems related to the cleanliness of the streets, the quality of the sidewalks, the infrastructure for people with disabilities, the condition of the underground crossings, the lack of parking spaces and the quality of the roads. Moreover, the inhabitants of the capital city have expressed their expectations that more efforts in the field of ecology and environmental protection and possibilities for waste sorting would be made.

According to the respondents, the City Hall is the second most corrupt institution in the municipality (after the Courts of Justice), followed by polyclinics and hospitals. The new mayor, as they say, should fight this problem and change the perception of Chișinău inhabitants about the institution they run.

Generally, the profile of a perfect candidate for Mayor of Chișinău can be built, by taking into consideration the preferences of respondents:

  • Married – 53% of respondents
  • With kids – 52% of respondents
  • Pro-European political orientation – 50% of respondents
  • Religious – 46% of respondents
  • With experience in business and management – 40% of respondents
  • New in politics – 40% of respondents

Even though there is a public belief that people who don’t come from the political environment see things differently than those who have been in the system for a long time and could bring more value, the majority of candidates are active members of political parties, some of them run for local elections (the leaders of election polls – Ion Ceban and Andrei Năstase), others have already gained the experience of being mayor. The most noticeable example is Dorin Chirtoacă who was the mayor of Chișinău from 2007 to 2018.

At the same time, the capital city residents know very little about who the local elected officials are and what they do. 64% do not know any municipal councillor. Only 26% say they are informed about the activity of the Municipal Council and 34% about the activity of the City Hall.

The situation described for the capital of the Republic of Moldova applies to other localities as well: people are mostly driven by their traditionalist values when deciding for whom to vote, set high expectation but are not informing themselves about the candidates running in the elections, being highly influenced by the previous candidates’ notoriety.

Foto: Shutterstock

Important

EU official: “It’s been a long time we’ve been patient. We will judge the Government’s actions objectively.”

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Director for Russia, Eastern partnership, Central Asia and OSCE, and Deputy Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia at the European External Action Service (EEAS), Luc Pierre Devigne, paid a visit to Chișinău today to participate in the 5th meeting of the EU-Moldova Association Committee.

He addressed a message to the Moldovan government during a press conference, criticising the way the reforms were implemented in the country, especially the way the famous bank fraud from Moldova, called also “the theft of the century” was investigated. Devigne considers inadmissible the fact that, after five years, the persons and companies that were involved in the fraud were not held accountable.

“It is unacceptable that after the theft of the billion was uncovered and deeply investigated by a leading financial investigation team – the Kroll company, whose findings were made publicly available, the investigation was still not finalised on various pretexts. We cannot believe that it is legally not possible to prosecute such a fraud.[…] It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that justice works in the country. We want to see an open and transparent process that includes not only the Government, but also the consultation of opposition, civil society and the EU institutions recommendations.” said Devigne.

The EU official told the Moldovan politicians: “It’s time for actions. It’s been a long time we’ve been supportive, we’ve been patient. Now, we will judge the Government’s actions objectively.”

“The EU has always supported the Republic of Moldova, but the EU cannot substitute for good governance and the actions that should be taken by the Government. Our support is not unconditional.”

He said that European assistance will depend on how laws and democratic standards will be respected in Moldova. Particularly, Luc Pierre Devigne mentioned that the Republic of Moldova should join the Anticorruption Network for an effective fight against corruption, strengthen independent media and improve the quality of life in the case of the Moldovan citizens.

Luc Pierre Devigne also referred to the subject of the Citizenship by Investment Law, on which the Government applied a moratorium, but only until February 24, 2020. The official was disappointed that people who obtained such kind of citizenship remained anonymous. “We do not see this as compatible with a serious and secure visa liberalisation regime. It’s a security issue.” highlighted Devigne.

One of the central messages of the EU delegation to Moldova concerned the importance of boosting the cooperation between Moldova and the community bloc.

At the same time, the Moldovan authorities reiterated their commitment to comply with the recommendations of international organisations such as the OSCE and the Venice Commission, and to ensure public consultations on major projects.

Photo: cotidianul.md

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Society

How corrupt Moldovan citizens are? Comparative figures

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When talking about corruption, most of Moldovan citizens blame the ‘system’ built by politicians and their political regimes throughout history. And that may be true, but only to some degree. When looking deeper, it can be actually observed that little corruption acts are perceived as a normality by a lot of individuals and legal entities in the country. That is what is shown in a recent study conducted by by the Center for Social Studies and Marketing “CBS – Research”. The study assessed the impact of the National Integrity and Anticorruption Strategy for the years 2017-2020.

 516 million lei – this is the total amount of bribes offered by Moldovans in 2019. On average, a Moldovan citizen has offered at least five bribes, while an enterprise has been involved in about three corruption acts. Businesses paid bribes worth 197,3 million lei, while individuals offered a total of 319,4 million lei as bribes during the last year, estimated the study. The value of the one illegal payment ranged from 50 to 20 thousand lei.

The research was carried out on the basis of a national survey where 1 120 persons, 506 companies and 606 civil servants from central, district and local public administration participated. The data were presented in comparison to the situation in 2017, when the first such survey was conducted. It was carried out within the project “Fight against corruption by strengthening integrity in the Republic of Moldova”, implemented by UNDP in collaboration with the National Anticorruption Center, and the support of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The total value of the bribes offered by Moldovans is lower, however, compared to those from two years ago, when the amounts varied between 100 and 500 thousand lei in the case of companies and between 50 lei and 8 thousand lei in the case of individuals, as the study stated.

Even though the study affirmed that corruption remains a serious problem for the Moldovan society, the level of intolerance of the population towards corruption has increased. Thus, about 62% of individuals (compared to 45% in 2017) and 83% of businesses (compared to 61% in 2017) consider any corruption situations unacceptable and declare that they do not accept to offer or receive bribes, regardless of the situation and implied personal benefit.

Moreover, both individuals (73% of respondents) and companies (80% of them) are aware that bribery entails punishment of both parties involved, and 87% of them, on average, would report the corruption acts to the anti-corruption agencies in the event of such a situation.

In the opinion of the civil servants participating in the survey, among the main causes of corruption are the low salaries in the public sector and the mentality of demanding and giving bribes in money and /or goods.

The same causes for corruption acts were emphasised by a survey conducted by Transparency International (TI) Moldova throughout the employees of 13 central public authorities. The survey results revealed that a quarter (24.6%) of civil servants who work in public institutions, and answered the survey, consider that their workplace is affected by corruption. More details about the survey can be found here.

Although the legislation obliges civil servants to report corruption cases and other abuses to the head of the public entity or to the responsible authority, a considerable part of the respondents (about 27%) are openly not willing to do it for reasons of personal security and lack of trust in empowered bodies, according to the TI-Moldova report.

Thus, the main factors that could determine the involvement of citizens in corruption abatement activities are the confidence that they will be protected if they denounce a public official for corruption acts, as well as the trust in the independence of the justice, showed the Center for Social Studies and Marketing study, as being reported by TV8.

“Committing acts of corruption must become non-profitable. But to drive forward those reforms, independent, effective, and incorruptible leaders of the judiciary and law enforcement bodies are urgently needed,” said Stanislav Pavlovschi, a Moldovan judge formerly at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), for the Global Voices portal.

In 2019, Moldova registered a score of 32 points for the Corruption Perception Index for 2019 released by Transparency International, being ranked 120th out of 180 countries. The score for Moldova worsened as compared to the 2018 year, when the country recorded 33 points, whereas improved when confronted to the data from 2017 – 31 points. More details here.

Photo: freepik.com

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Society

Amnesty International: the Government of Moldova needs to ensure hygiene conditions in schools. Statistics

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“A clean and safe toilet in schools is a right, not a privilege.” – this is said in the statement of Amnesty International that urged the Government of Moldova to ensure decent hygiene conditions in the schools of the Republic of Moldova.

The statement of Amnesty International said that, according to the official data provided by the National Agency for Public Health and the Children’s Platform that conducted the research, about half of the schools in the Republic of Moldova do not have toilets inside the school building, which is connected to a public sewerage system, or if they exist, the toilets are not used.

“The schools usually have only toilets, located far from the school building, which are in poor condition, without cabins or separators for privacy, no electricity or heating, no hand-washing facilities, and which are rarely cleaned. Thus, almost half of the pupils from the Republic of Moldova use old outside toilets, located in the school yard, no matter it is hot or cold outside. Children do not have facilities that meet basic standards regarding water, sanitation and hygiene practices,” claimed Amnesty International.

According to the Children’s Platform survey results, in which 175 children from different schools from all over the country participated, 57% of them said that the toilets are located outside the school building, and 75% of the respondents mentioned that there is never toilet paper in the toilets. Toilet paper was never included in the list of hygiene products in schools, and the norms have not been changed since 1986, a fact confirmed by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research.

Even though 90% of them said there are hand-washing facilities in schools, 70% said that soap is rarely there or there is no soap at all.

70% of pupils said that their teachers use a different toilet. The conditions in the teachers’ restrooms are much better than those for pupils. There are even cases where the teachers’ restrooms are located inside the school building, and the pupils’ restrooms are outside.

The privacy of the children is not assured as well. Even though 77% of the students mentioned that there are walls in the school toilets, only 43% of the children said that these cabins have doors.

source: mamaplus.md

Some survey participants mentioned that the school’s indoor toilets, if they exist, are open only when controls in the institution take place.

These practices seriously contradict the World Health Organization (WHO) minimum standards on water, sanitation and hygiene in educational institutions, that meaning a sufficient number of separate, well-maintained restrooms for girls, boys, women and men, integrated in the school building, accessible to children with special needs, and having hand-washing facilities, as Amnesty International stated.

On this occasion, it’s worth mentioning that seven out of ten households in the Republic of Moldova do not have a toilet in the house. On average, 21 out of 30 people go to the outside toilet located in the yard, stated a report published by Moldova.org.

Taking into consideration that the majority of the Moldovan localities are remote from big cities, they also can’t be connected to their centralised sewage system. Only 126 out of 1682 localities have sewerage systems and only 73 of them have functional sewage treatment plants. Without a sewage treatment plant, wastewater reaches the soil and rivers, causing serious pollution.

Experts say that there a 2 more solutions: decentralised sewage systems with attached treatment plants for a locality or a group of localities (such projects have a cost of more than 1,5 million euros) or home treatment plants attached to the individual sewage system (that can cost about 4 thousand euros). For 60.6% of the population with low and very low income, several thousand euros represent a lot of money.

More details can be found in the Moldova.org article.

Photo: Nadea Roșcovanu| Jurnal de Chisinau

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