Moldovan Communists beaten in landmark election
Moldova's pro-Western opposition said on Thursday it would form a coalition after beating the ruling Communists in an election that could swing the former Soviet republic away from Russia toward Europe, Reuters reported.
Moldova's four main opposition parties won just over half the vote between them in a parliamentary election called by veteran Communist leader Vladimir Voronin after the legislature twice failed to endorse his handpicked successor as president.
But they have insufficient seats to impose their choice of president, who has held the levers of power in Moldova.
The Communists were declared winners of a disputed election in April but the result triggered violent protests and the political system has been deadlocked since.
Now, after winning just over 45 percent of the vote, the Communists will lose their majority in parliament. Voronin acknowledged his party had been outvoted by its rivals and called for dialogue.
"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 April," said Bogdan Tirdea, an independent political analyst. Vlad Filat, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who ran second behind the Communists on 16.4 percent, or 17 seats, promised a "wide coalition in the interests of the people. We will find the necessary compromise and find agreement so that Moldova finally gets democratic rule."
"We fought for this for so long and with so many difficulties," Filat said. Voronin, a Moldovan interior minister in the Soviet era, has ruled the impoverished country wedged between Ukraine and Romania since 2001.
The Communists are on course to win 48 seats, down from 60, and could forge an alliance with the centrist Democratic party, which won 13 seats.
Together they would hold 61 seats, the minimum required to elect a new president. But Democrat leader Marian Lupu, a charismatic academic who recently defected from the Communists, ruled out a two-way pact and backed a "broad coalition."
"We will not go into a bilateral coalition with the Communist party," Lupu told Radio Romania Actualitati. "I understand that such an alliance will preserve the existing situation in the country -- one that is far from good."
In his statement, Voronin said the Communist Party's tally of more than 700,000 votes showed "no other party can compare with it in terms of popular support."
"The Communist Party is ready for fundamental dialogue with all political forces represented in parliament," he said.
International monitors said the ballot met most democratic norms and the EU said a new coalition could hoist the country of 4.5 million out of political crisis.