In my two years as U.S. Ambassador, I have spoken with countless Moldovans all over the country about their dreams and concerns for their beloved country. These conversations are inspiring and underscore an unflagging commitment by its citizens to build a more democratic, prosperous, and secure nation. On November 1, Moldovans will go to the polls and exercise their right to choose the country’s president. This is an important choice for Moldova’s future and a critical test for Moldova’s institutions. Moldova’s leaders have an opportunity — and an obligation — to ensure a free and fair electoral process that fully respects the will of the people. This obligation means ensuring a level playing field for all candidates and transparent registration process, the impartial application of electoral laws and rules, and equal access to media and campaign venues. There should also be space for robust yet civil debate so voters can make informed choices.
COVID-19 presents new challenges for democratic electoral processes all over the world, including in my own country. But this pandemic cannot justify denying voters the right to express their will. The Moldovan people and the international community are counting on Moldova’s leaders at the national and local level to fulfill their moral and legal responsibility to ensure that all citizens can vote — and that all possible measures will be taken to keep them safe and healthy. This means putting in place adequate social distancing and sanitation that meet international standards and best practices for voters (including the sick and those hospitalized), electoral staff, and election monitors.
Before November, Moldova’s leaders and electoral officials should also take steps to prevent past mistakes from being repeated. In their recent pre-assessment, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) again cautioned about the potential for vote buying, the abuse of state resources, the dangers of politically controlled media, a lack of transparency in campaign financing, and the risk of the manipulation or suppression of voters from Transnistria and the diaspora. Moldovan officials still have time to address these long-standing concerns to ensure that all citizens can freely and safely cast their ballots on Election Day.
While the authorities must do their part to guarantee a clean election, the real responsibility lies with the voters. Even in my short time here, I have seen that change is possible, thanks to the unwavering spirit of the Moldovan people. Elections are a time to renew this hope in the future and elect leaders who will represent the interests of all Moldovans. The Moldovan people, those living in the country and abroad, have the freedom and a responsibility to go to the polls and make your voices heard. Your future is in your hands. Rest assured the United States and other development partners will be doing all we can to support a fair, transparent contest.
Regardless of what choice the Moldovan people make on Election Day, the United States will remain a faithful partner to the Moldovan people and this country’s sovereign right to choose its own path. We support and join in your struggle to build a bright, prosperous, and democratic future for yourselves and your children.