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Balkans 2009: Moldova – early elections and no president

In Moldova 2009 was marked by early elections and unsuccessful attempts to elect new president of the country. For 10 years the pro-Western reformers in Moldova have been trying to overthrow the communist government that had almost total control over the poorest country in Europe. They achieved their goal in the end but the most difficult part is yet to come, analysts say.

The new governing coalition in Moldova has set European integration as its main priority of foreign policy. Moldova has also made steps towards improving its relations with Romania.

‘Everything depends on the way the new ruling coalition deals with the problems we have. It will not be easy,' said Galina Shelar, executive director of the Chişinău Center for Strategic Studies and Reforms.

Since 2001 Moldovan politics has been dominated by Vladimir Voronin - President of the country and leader of the Communist Party.

Even in the spring of 2009, when the end of his constitutionally mandated last term in office was drawing near, he was still making practically every important decision in Moldova.

Just like before, he appeared to have the support of a strictly disciplined parliamentary majority and a massive network of loyal local officials who owed their jobs to the communists.

However, in 2009 things did not turn out the way Voronin had planned. By April Moldova's already weakened economy collapsed under the weight of the global financial and economic crisis. The country's opposition, only united by the hatred of Voronin, would continue hammering the topic that Communist rule was corrupt and ruining the country.

On 5th April parliamentary elections were carried out in Moldova. On 7th April Central Election Commission /CEC/ of Moldova announced that the Communist Party had won the elections and was going to have majority in the new parliament. The opposition stated the vote had been rigged.

Tens of thousands of protestors gathered in Moldova's capital, Chişinău.
Voronin ordered blockades at Chişinău's main road entrances and threatened protestors with arrest. Tension escalated and protests turned into riots. Demonstrators broke into the Parliament building and later set the Presidential building on fire.

An estimated 300 Moldovans, both protestors and police officers, were injured in street battles and one woman died of smoke inhalation. This was the worst manifestation of violence Moldova has seen since Voronin took office in 2001.
Despite the protests, the election results were declared legitimate. The communists, however, did not have the 61 votes in parliament that were necessary to elect new president. Voronin nominated Zinaida Greceanîi, PM at that time, for the post. Her nomination was not supported by the opposition and thus early parliamentary elections were called on 29th July. The communists won again but they still did not have a majority. The four opposition parties (Liberal Democratic Party, Liberal Party, Democratic Party, and Our Moldova Alliance) took advantage of this and founded the Alliance for European Integration. This coalition held 53 of the 101 seats in parliament, which, according to Moldovan Constitution, was enough for electing a PM but not a president.
Leader of the Liberal Party, Mihai Ghimpu, was elected Speaker of Parliament, his nomination being backed by all 53 MPs from the Alliance for European Integration. The communist fraction did not take part in the vote as it left the plenary hall. The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova /PCRM/, which had 48 MPs, condemned the vote as illegal and stated it would appeal against it in the Constitutional Court.

Voronin resigned in September and thus the Alliance for European Integration became the ruling coalition and the communists - opposition. Mihai Ghimpu was appointed interim President of the Republic of Moldova.
On 7th December, after two unsuccessful attempts, the new coalition tried to elect President for a third time. The only nomination launched was the one of Marian Lupu, leader of the Democratic Party and former Speaker of Parliament. But the Parliament failed to elect president yet again as Lupu only won 53 votes. Communists left the plenary hall before the vote. According to the amendments to the Moldovan Constitution, this situation requires that early parliamentary elections be carried out in 2010.

So, Moldova meets the new 2010 with a government but without elected president. Involved into political fights Moldova's leaders neglected the solution to economic problems regardless of the fact that they requested international help to overcome the consequences of the crisis. In the years to come Moldovans will have to vote again. In order to elect a President the Alliance for European Integration needs to win majority of at least 61 votes, which is extremely difficult.

source: FOCUS


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