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30 Jul, 2009 00:07

Moldova: second attempt to elect parliament

Exit polls in Moldova suggest the ruling Communist party is losing the country's national election.

Polls indicate four opposition parties have won some 54% of the vote, which, if confirmed, will allow the victorious parties to create an alliance and form a government.

However, the central electoral committee says more than half of the officially counted ballots show the communists in the lead.

This is Moldova’s second parliamentary election this year. In April riots broke out in the street of the Moldovan capital after the Communist party’s victory amid claims the voting had been rigged.

The winners in the latest vote will have to contend with those scars. The latest polls suggest the Communists are still in the lead, but analysts say the four pro-European parties could jointly win more seats and form an alliance.

More than three thousand international observers have been monitoring the Wednesday's election until the stations were shut down a while ago.

Observer Aleksandr Kynev works for the European election monitoring organization. He has monitored several dozen elections across the CIS, but when he came to Moldova for July’s ballot, half of his group was denied accreditation. This is the first time in a decade that this has happened.

“Those who were not given accreditation stayed to monitor the press and agitation in the streets. But we had a knock on the door at 6 o’clock in the morning and we were told by the police that we had to leave Moldova. No reasons were given to us,” says Aleksandr Kynev.

Four months ago Aleksandr and his organization decided not to attend the general parliamentary vote, which was deemed fair by other European observers. But the events which followed shocked the country of four million.

After the ruling party of communists gained victory in the parliamentary vote, the opposition accused them of rigging the vote. Thousands took to the streets of the capital Chisinau. A peaceful protest rally turned violent and the angry mob stormed the presidential palace and parliament, burning and damaging everything on their way.

The scar on the political face of the country is still noticeable.

Even if Wednesday’s election runs smoothly and brings a positive result, the new parliament will have nowhere to gather for the first session. That is because, almost four months after the unrest – having almost been burnt down – the parliament building is still being renovated.

Moldova is no stranger to disputes over its territorial integrity. Some want EU membership through reunification with Romania, while the others are trying to bring Transdenstr back under control, it having broken away in 1991.

Back in April, after EU and Romanian flags replaced the Moldovan one on both buildings, the authorities accused Bucharest of instigating the uprising.

The communist party says the fear of external pressure gives them the impetus to fight hard in this early vote.

“The opposition said that it wasn’t a coup-de-tat attempt, but a sporadic rally. At the same time, the Romanian president hailed what he called a revolution – he described the opposition leaders here as revolutionaries. Who else but us – communists – know the meaning of this word? And this is what this early vote is about – to protect our motherland,” says Mark Tkachyuk from the Moldovan Party of Communists.

The opposition is busy playing the blame game. The Liberal Democratic Party leader refutes any claims that the opposition masterminded April’s events. They point the finger at the ruling party of communists.

“Someone is posting messages on websites, calling on people to gather on July 30th. They are using our name, but we denounce it. We believe that the communist party may be interested in provoking riots again to take us all back to square one. We will not let them repeat what they instigated on April 7th,” says Vlade Filat from the Liberal-Democratic Party of Moldova.

Despite their political differences, both sides promise that they will do everything to avoid any street clashes this time. But just as hardly anyone had expected things to go as they did back in April, nobody knows now where the Wednesday election will take this post-Soviet state.