Moldova’s pro-Russian Socialist party was set to win the most votes in the country’s parliamentary election on November 30, but three pro-EU parties combined to win more than half the seats in the 101-seat legislature, partial results announced by the election authorities on the morning of December 1 showed.
With 90 per cent of the votes counted, the Socialists – who campaigned on a promise to cancel the association and free-trade agreement with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia – had 21.3 per cent.
None of the polls in the final week of the election predicted the Socialist win, but the party appears to have benefitted from the court decision to expel the Patria (Homeland) party, which ran on a similar promise, from the race. The election authorities asked an appeals court on November 26 to remove the party from the election rolls for using foreign funding in its campaign – the court did so a day later and the high court upheld the ruling on November 29.
The Liberal-Democrats, who were backing prime minister Iurie Leanca to return to office, were second with 19.5 per cent and their main government coalition partners, the Democrats, had 15.8 per cent. A third pro-EU party, which was in government until 2013, the Liberals, had 9.4 per cent.
The Communists, which won the largest share of the votes in the previous six elections, going back to 1998, came in third with 18 per cent, as the party took a more moderate stance on the EU association agreement – saying it wanted to amend rather than scrap the deal – and lost the more ardent pro-Russian voters to the Socialist party, set up by former Communist MP Igor Dodon.
The seats distribution based on preliminary results gave the Socialist 25 MPs, followed by the Liberal-Democrats with 24, Communists with 21, Democrats with 19 and Liberals with 12.
Arithmetically, the three pro-EU parties would have a comfortable majority of 55 seats in the new legislature, with 51 MPs needed to invest a cabinet. In the long run, with parliament due to elect a new president in 2016, such a coalition would need help from the other two parties to reach the needed majority of 61 MPs.
However, coalition talks could be a tough task, as the Liberals – who brought down a pro-European cabinet in March 2013 and left the ruling coalition after clashes with the Liberal-Democrats and Democrats – said that they would take an uncompromising stance in the upcoming negotiations.
In recent weeks, the idea of a “grand coalition” between the Liberal-Democrats, Democrats and Communists had been floated, but all three party leaders rejected such a prospect during the campaign. Communist leader Vladimir Voronin also said that he would not ally with Dodon, whom he branded a “traitor” for leaving the party ranks.
(Moldovan election ballot boxes. Photo: cec.md)