Election results leave Moldova in political limbo

The parties of the ‘Alliance for European Integration’ have won a majority of seats in the parliamentary elections held in the Republic of Moldova yesterday. However, the results suggest that Moldova might remain without an elected head of state for some more time.

The Parliament of the Republic of Moldova in Chisinau – © Guttorm Flatabø 2006

The parliamentary elections held yesterday are the third election and the fourth ballot within a period of only 20 months and are the result of persisting political deadlock.

The election victory of the Communist party in April 2009 had not only produced accusations of oppositions parties that the party had rigged the elections to stay in power but also led to civil unrest. Nevertheless, the communist party fell short of the 61 seats required to elected a president. After two attempts to elect a new head of state failed, parliament was dissolved and early elections were held in July of the same year. This time elections were won by the ‘Alliance for European Integration’, a number of smaller parties supporting – contrary to the Russia-oriented Communists – closer integration of Moldova into EU programmes structures. Nevertheless, the alliance won only 53 seats (the Communists took the remaining 48) and although they were thus able to form a government, the problem of electing a president continued. After the indirect election of a new president failed again twice in late 2009, the alliance tried to introduce constitutional changes to provide for a direct election of the president once again (indirect elections had only been introduced in 2000). Parliament ratified the changes with a narrow majority of 51 out of 101 votes. However, amendments still had to be ratified in a public constitutional referendum. After the Communist party together with others had called for a boycott of the referendum in September 2010, it failed to meet the 33% turnout requirement. This threshold was required to validate the constitutional amendments. Therefore, speaker of parliament and acting president, Mihai Ghimpu, called early elections once again.

With about 90% of the votes counted, the Communists remain the biggest single party with 41,2% of the vote, followed by the Liberal Democrats (28%), the Democrats (13.2%) and the Liberals (8.8%). The Communist party would thus take 44-45 of the seats and the ‘Alliance for European Integration’ only 55-56 seats in the 101-seat assembly. However, 61 votes, i.e. 3/5 of the deputies, are needed to elect a new president. Some analysts have suggested that the Alliance might seek support from smaller factions within the Communist parliamentary party – given the grave divide between the two camps this seems to be rather unlikely.

Post scriptum: Due to the recent developments in the Czech Republic, I will try to put up an article on the changes in the mode of presidental election in Central and Eastern Europe sometime this week.

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