Moldovan Communists beaten unexpectedly in polls

30th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

A knife-edge poll saw the opposition win 53 seats over the Communists’ 48 seats, paving the way for a democratic Moldova.

Chisinau – Moldova's pro-West opposition unexpectedly defeated the ruling Communist Party in tight legislative elections crucial for the future alignment of the poorest state in Europe, results said Thursday.

The opposition declared that it would start coalition talks on forming a new government and expressed hope they could control a parliament vote that will choose a successor for strongman Communist President Vladimir Voronin.

The Communists polled by far the highest votes of a single party in Wednesday's parliamentary polls, but its share of 45.1 percent of the vote was exceeded by the tally of four main opposition parties combined.

This would give the Communists only 48 seats in the new parliament and its opponents 53 seats, the central election commission said in figures based on 97 percent of ballots counted.

"The Communist Party will have to join the ranks of the opposition and must not disturb Moldova on its path towards European integration," said Dorin Chirtoaca, deputy head of the opposition Liberal Party.

"Democracy has won. The opposition must unite and form the majority."

Vlad Filat, head of the Liberal Democrats, said negotiations had already started on forming a government coalition.

Initial figures from Wednesday's polls had looked good for the Communists but their opponents crept up as the night wore on and more results came in.

The new parliament must choose a successor to Voronin, who has served out the maximum mandate, at a time when the opposition has been pushing for closer ties to the European Union and the Communists want to stay close to Moscow.

The elections took place less than four months after the last polls, which were marred by deadly post-election violence after the opposition accused the Communists of vote rigging.

It appears that Moldova's political landscape has been transformed by the defection of former Communist parliament speaker Marian Lupu to lead the small Democratic Party.

The three traditionally largest parties of the anti-Communist opposition – the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Party and the Our Moldova coalition – together were set to win 40 seats, the election commission said.

But the Democratic Party was to garner 13 seats, giving the opposition a total of 53.

"We are ready to work with the Democratic Party if it is definitively separated from the Communist Party," the head of Our Moldova, Serafim Urechean, told Moldovan television.

Lupu himself declared: "I know the mentality of the Communists. It is impossible to form a coalition with them."

However the opposition will have to find some Communist support if it is to choose the next president, since at least 61 votes are required, rather than a straight majority, to choose the head of state.

The opposition is seeking closer ties with the EU and in particular with Moldova's neighbour Romania, with which it shares a common language and close cultural ties.

However, Moscow would much prefer the Communist Party to stay in power and not risk losing influence over another ex-Soviet country, with pro-Western governments having taken power in Ukraine and Georgia.

Voronin had been eyeing the post of speaker to maintain influence even after quitting the presidency.

In the 5 April election, the Communists won about 50 percent of the vote but were accused of fraud. As a result, huge numbers of young activists took to the streets after spreading the word via Internet tools like Twitter and Facebook.

The street protests culminated in the sacking and burning of the parliament building in Chisinau by young rioters, which Russia and Voronin's Communists blamed on interference from Romania.

Moldova's poverty prompts numerous working-age adults to seek employment abroad, leaving behind the young and the elderly.

The country has Europe's lowest per capita income with an average monthly wage of just over USD 250 (EUR 185, CHF 272), and 25 percent of the active working population is employed abroad, mostly in the construction sector.

AFP / Expatica

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