The first monitoring report on the inclusion of disabled persons and Roma ethnic group has been launched today. The report has been prepared under the auspices of the Civic Coalition for Free and Fair Elections.
The report has been developed within the project „Civil Society Advocacy for Inclusive and Correct Elections in the Republic of Moldova compliant with the EU and OSCE/ODIHR Recommendations and Human Rights Commitments”, implemented by the East Europe Foundation, Centre for Partnership Development, Piligrim Demo, and Tarna Rom. The project is funded by the European Union and co-funded by Sweden.
The main findings of the monitoring report:
Level of Roma People Representation:
Roma persons continue being under-represented in the lists of candidates for the position of Local Councillors of level I. Only 10 electoral contestants registered Roma persons as candidates in 19 out of 185 localities compactly populated by Roma people. According to information collected during the monitoring period, 35 Roma persons have been registered as candidates for the position of Local Councillor of level I (2 Municipal Councillors, 8 Town Councillors, 20 Commune Councillors, and 5 Village Councillors). Only one Roma person (a woman) has been registered as independent candidate for the position of Local Councillor of level I (Village Councillor).
The number of Roma persons included in the lists of candidates for the position of Local Councillor of level II (for District Council) was also low. Only 9 electoral contestants (out of 25) registered 14 Roma persons as candidates for the position of Local Councillor of level II (District Councillors) in 10 (out of 185) localities densely populated by Roma people.
Men of Roma ethnicity prevail in the lists of candidates. Electoral contestants have registered only 12 women (out of the total 35 Roma persons) as candidates for the position of Local Councillor of level I (city, commune, and village); of these, 7 persons were included among the first 10 candidates on the lists. The electoral contestants registered only 4 women (out of 14 Roma persons) as candidates for the position of Local Councillor of level II (District Council); of these, only one was included among the first 10 candidates on the list.
The representation of Roma people among candidates for the position of Mayor (commune, village) is even lower. Only 3 electoral contestants (out of 25) registered 4 Roma persons in 3 out of 185 compactly populated localities as candidates for the position of Mayor in administrative-territorial units of level I (1 commune, and 2 villages). No Roma person has been registered as independent candidate for the position of Mayor in administrative-territorial units of level I (town, commune, village) and of level II (Chisinau and Balti municipalities).
Specific problems faced by Roma persons are not reflected in the electoral platforms of candidates. None of the platforms analysed during the monitoring period would consider the Roma persons and the problems encountered by them. As a consequence, their platforms do not include positive actions targeting this vulnerable group.
Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities in the Electoral Process:
Compared to other elections, the problems of persons with disabilities are more pervasive in the electoral platforms of candidates, of some political parties, and in the media. However, the monitoring mission is concerned about the low participation of disabled persons as electoral candidates. Only 11 disabled persons are running in the General Local Elections of 20 October 2019. Their profile is as follows: 8 women and 3 men; 2 of them are from urban area, and 9 – from rural area; 1 person with disabilities is running for the position of Mayor, 7 – for the position of first level Local Councillor, out of which 3 persons – for District Councillor; 2 of them are running as independent candidates, and 9 are included in the party lists; 3 persons are wheelchair users.
Disabled persons encounter significant barriers in accessing electoral information. The accessibility audit of 150 webpages revealed that only two of them are accessible; another two webpages are considered to provide conditional access, while the others do not contain and/or have insufficient instruments that would make them accessible for the visually impaired and blind persons. These findings are at odds with international accessibility standards and with the provisions of Government Resolution No. 188 of 03.04.2012 on Official Pages of Public Administration Authorities on the Internet.
The only operational publishing house providing printing services in Braille system has never been contracted by an electoral candidate. As a tradition, non-government organizations have published the „Voter’s Guide for General Local Elections of 20 October 2019” in Braille system, voiced and printed it on audio CDs. NGOs have been publishing this Guide for five consecutive elections already.
From the very beginning of the electoral campaign no meeting has been organized with and for the persons with intellectual disabilities in either residential institutions or community centres. The number of voters with intellectual disability is estimated at approximately 30-40 thousand persons (or 2-2,5% of the total number of voters, according to WHO estimations), and circa 1,600 of these are placed in residential institutions. This electorate seems to present no interest for the electoral contestants.
Low access to the headquarters of political parties. The accessibility conditions of access routes and entrances of approximately 20 headquarters of the political parties have been assessed in eight towns of the Republic of Moldova. Only two of these proved to insure partially accessible conditions, the rest being inaccessible.