Fri, Jul 31, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Pro-West parties triumph in Moldova

HISTORY: Moldova, where the average monthly wage is only US$350, was part of Romania until 1940, gaining its independence after the breakup of the Soviet Union

AP , CHISINAU

Moldova’s pro-Western parties say they will forge an alliance after winning in parliamentary elections — a stinging setback to Europe’s last communist-run government.

Near final results published early yesterday from a tightly contested parliamentary vote in the impoverished former Soviet republic gave four center-right opposition parties a lead over the Communist Party, which has ruled Moldova since 2001.

With 98 percent of the vote counted, the opposition had 50.9 percent to the Communists’ 45.1 percent.

The opposition will get another boost from three parties whose votes will be redistributed because they didn’t reach the 5 percent minimum needed to enter parliament.

The outcome from Wednesday’s elections threatened to unseat Europe’s last government officially administered by a Communist Party.

Leaders of the four opposition blocs vowed to form an alliance, raising the likelihood that Moldova — one of Europe’s poorest nations — may move out of Russia’s orbit and closer to the EU.

“The conclusion is that the Communist Party lost the elections after an exhausting campaign where there were enormous pressures not just on the political parties but also on the ordinary people,” said Alexandru Tanase, deputy chairman of the largest opposition bloc, the Liberal Democratic Party after polls close.

Tanase confirmed that his party would negotiate with the Liberal Party, Democratic Party and Our Moldova Alliance.

“In a short time we will find a favorable solution to develop democracy in Moldova,” added Our Moldova Alliance chief Serafim Urechean.

Despite the opposition’s gains, it appeared to fall short of gaining enough seats in the 101-member assembly to elect a successor to outgoing Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, meaning it will have to negotiate with the Communists.

Voronin, who leads the Communists, already has served the maximum two terms.

Moldova has been in political paralysis since April parliamentary elections sparked violent protests, with the opposition claiming that vote had been rigged by the government.

At least three people were killed and hundreds of others arrested after protesters stormed parliament and the president’s office after the April vote.

Streets were quiet and nearly deserted on Wednesday evening, with no sign of unrest.

A pro-Europe victory would move Moldova closer to the EU and NATO.

It also would help Moldova repair relations with neighboring Romania. Voronin accused Romania of trying to overthrow his government during the April 7 riots, and Moldova subsequently imposed visa requirements on Romanians. Moldova was part of Romania until 1940, and gained its independence after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union.

“This is the most important thing for us in power,” Voronin said as the projections came in. “This is the most important achievement — that we were able to organize civilized and democratic elections.”

Voter turnout was just under 59 percent, the Central Electoral Committee said.

In an effort to discourage any attempts at vote fraud, more than 3,000 foreign and Moldovan observers monitored Wednesday’s elections.

A member of the opposition Our Moldova Alliance, Sergiu Bumbu, was shot in the leg near Chisinau by a man accompanied by two Communist Party politicians. An argument had broken out over allegations the Communists were breaking election rules, said Leonid Bujor, a spokesman for Our Alliance Party.

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