Weakened Communists still dominant Moldova force

A parliamentary election in Moldova has boosted the fortunes of the liberal opposition but the Communists will likely continue as the country’s dominant political force – without outgoing President Vladimir Voronin. With loans from China and Russia hanging in the balance, the question was who would be able to sort out a viable coalition – pro-Western parties seeking closer ties with Romania and Europe, or the Communists allied with recent defector Marian Lupu.

Lupu has made any deal for his Democratic Party to join forces with the Communists contingent on Voronin leaving office. Though the Communists remain Moldova’s biggest party, most analysts agreed they will no longer hold unfettered power and outgoing Voronin was probably a spent force. “One can hardly overestimate the importance of this – despite all of the Communists’ clamorous statements and this open support by Russia, they still received fewer votes than (in the first parliamentary election) April,” s
aid independent analyst Bogdan Tirdea.

He said another factor was the final approval for proposed credits of $500 million from Russia and $1 billion from the China National Overseas Engineering Corporation. The loans are crucial to the ex-Soviet state, whose economy has been devastated by reduced remittances from hundreds of thousands of Moldovans working abroad who have been hit by the global financial crisis.

Analysts have suggested that both countries would be reluctant to commit big credits if Moldova appears to be moving towards the West. “In conditions of crisis, when the budget coffers are empty and it is far from clear if Moldova gets the promised Chinese and Russian loans, the situation will simply become precarious.

Analysts played down suggestions of a coalition made up purely of liberal opposition parties – the Liberals, Liberal Democrats, Our Moldova and the centrist Democratic Party – who have won over just half the votes with nearly all the ballots counted. A more likely deal, they said, would see the Communists join Lupu’s Democratic Party. The Communists are on course to win 48 seats and the Democratic Party 13 seats. Together they would hold 61, the minimum required to elect a new president in the 101-seat cha
mber.

Sam Greene, deputy director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, said the Communists remained the dominant force. “The reality is that anybody who comes to power, any coalition, is going to have to find some kind of accommodation with the Communists and that will, to a certain extent, shape how the coalition is formed,” he said.

A Communist-Democratic Party coalition could be bolstered by the addition of the Our Moldova party. That arrangement could enable Lupu to become president and even leave the door open for Voronin to remain as prime minister, though with reduced powers. But some analysts say there is no room in such an equation for Voronin after years of economic mismanagement. “Under Voronin, we all slept through a chance to become an innovative economy,” said Vitalie Andrievschi, director of the AVE.MD think tank. “I beli
eve there will be a new state power in Moldova – be it a coalition with the Communists or without them. The only thing is certain – there will be no place in it for Voronin.

Analysts in Romania, where President Traian Basescu was in open conflict with Voronin and backed the opposition, applauded the liberals’ improved score, but warned of tough talks ahead. “As it is, the result is a success but not as big as would have been preferred,” said analyst Stelian Tanase in Bucharest.

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