President of Moldova Vladimir Voronin has claimed that tomorrow’s general election will decide whether the country retains its sovereignty or falls under the malign influence of foreign powers.
Communist Mr Voronin blames Romania – with which Moldova shares deep ethnic, linguistic and historical links – for fomenting riots after an April election which liberal opposition groups say was rigged by the ruling communists.
The veteran president accused his opponents, most of whom favour closer ties with Bucharest and the rest of the European Union, of seeking to undermine Moldova’s independence and even pave the way for it to become part of Romania.
Mr Voronin’s travails have pushed him closer to Russia, which also hinted at a Romanian role in April’s protests.
Moscow has recently offered a €360 million loan to impoverished Moldova to help it through the economic crisis.
Analysts fear tomorrow’s vote will only deepen the political deadlock and increase tension as no party is likely to win enough seats in parliament to elect their candidate as successor to Mr Voronin, who must step down as president after two terms in office.
Following the April election, the communists failed in two votes to push their chosen candidate through parliament, forcing Mr Voronin to dissolve the assembly and call another ballot.
“You will be choosing not between programmes and promises, not who governs and who is in opposition, but between development and chaos, stability and violence, civic dignity and political treachery,” Mr Voronin told voters. “Maintaining our statehood, restoring trust and constructive co-operation in civil society is impossible without a decisive victory by the Communist Party.”
Taking a swipe at Romania, Mr Voronin claimed that “the liberals and their true masters need . . . a nation exhausted by chaos and fear, ready to surrender its statehood and democracy.”
Bucharest denies causing trouble in Moldova, but some 800,000 Moldovans have secured or applied for a Romanian passport in recent years and Romanian president Traian Basescu has openly expressed hope that Moldova’s “democratic forces” emerge stronger from the elections.
Surveys suggest the communists will take about 30 per cent of votes, mostly among older Moldovans, while the main three reform groups, backed by younger voters, are also expected to claim a combined 30 per cent.