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Top 9 Ways For Voronin to Stay in Power

Moldova remains a wonderland of political machination and cabal. After the opposition forced dissolution of the parliament and new elections, President Vladimir Voronin is playing hardball while changing the rules to his favor.  Here's a list for staying on top courtesy of the last freely elected Communist Party in the world:

1. Neutralize young voters.  Call snap elections in the dead of summer when many of your opponents' young and passionate supporters are away.

2. Leave the "dead souls" in peace. Rush the process to prevent those pesky voter lists from being properly checked.

3. Use smoke and mirrors. Send impossible deadlines and unfunded instructions to local leaders, essentially requiring a minicensus in several weeks.

4. Try to pull a fast one. Declare an unprecedented weekday election. Then, following public outrage, declare election day a holiday. Require citizens to work on a future Saturday to make it up.

5. Complicate overseas voting. Frustrate the 91 percent of expats who supported the opposition by calling a workday vote and limiting polling places with no absentee ballots allowed.

6. Anything goes. Drastically lower the participation thresholds so that few voters need show up to make the election official. After all, your supporters will be around this summer.

7. Introduce trojan horses. Make it easier for allied or virtual opposition parties to enter the parliament by lowering that threshold from 6 percent to 5 percent. 

8. Slander your opponents.  Using state-controlled media, broadcast programs that cut and paste wiretapped snippets out of their original context to claim that the opposition ordered April's postelectoral violence.

9. Sic the prosecutor on your opponents. Open a criminal investigation and repeatedly question your capital city's popular reformist mayor as a suspect of "usurpation of power." 

Voronin and his Communist Party managed to get all this done even before the formal election campaign started, and there's little doubt that they've kept some tricky moves in reserve. If international monitors are serious about observing Moldova's repeat elections, they had better jump through the looking glass and open their eyes.


The Moscow Times

By Louis O'Neill served as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's ambassador and head of mission to Moldova from 2006 to 2008.


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