CSOs can provide paid services to election candidates, says Constitutional Court of Moldova

On 8 October 2020, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Moldova stated that CSOs are allowed to provide paid services to electoral candidates during elections campaigns.

The Court issued this decision following a referral submitted by a MP for the control of the constitutionality of some provisions of article 6, paragraph 5 of the new Law on non-commercial organizations (“Law on NCOs”). The law entered into force on 27 August 2020, and provides under article 6 (p. 5) that CSOs cannot provide services (neither paid, nor free of charge) to election candidates during the elections period: „During the electoral campaign, the non-commercial organization may not provide services and / or support materially or free of charge the electoral contestants and may not make electoral agitation.”

The Court admitted that: “The text of the article 6, paragraph 5 is constitutional “Provide services and/or” insofar as non-commercial organizations are allowed to provide paid services to electoral contestants during the election campaign”.

The Constitutional Court issued an address to Parliament in order to regulate Article 6, paragraph 5 of the Law on NCOs in accordance with the ruling so that during the election campaign non-profit organizations are prohibited only from providing free of charge services, not paid services.

This prohibition would have affected the activity of several media institutions organised as non-profit organisations which sell advertising space to electoral contestants. Still, the decision has not clarified whether the non-profit media institutions will be able to organise election debates.

In the process of examining the referral the Constitutional Court requested, among others, the opinions of several national CSOs on this matter.