Communists hand Moldova's ruling coalition defeat in by-elections
Moldova's opposition Communists handed the country's pro-Europe ruling coalition a thumping defeat in a key by-election, vote officials said Monday.
Communist Igor Dordon captured 52 per cent of the vote in a race for the mayor's office for the capital city Chisinau, by far the country's most important political district containing almost one-fifth of Moldova's entire population, DPA reported.
Dordon's opponent, incumbent mayor Dorin Chirtoaca, obtained only 42 per cent support in the Sunday poll, mid-Monday counts from Moldova's Central Election Committee (CEC) showed.
The Communists also took over the Chisinau city council as a result of the vote and appeared on track to obtain a 51 - 52 per cent majority - enough to override any rival coalition.
The official results based on 99 per cent ballots counted were within one per cent of an independent exit poll.
It was the first time ever in independent Moldova that a Communist candidate won a mayor's contest in the traditionally anti-Communist capital Chisinau - even during 2001-2009 when the Communists held almost total control over the national and most local governments.
Chirtoaca is a senior member of Moldova's Liberal Party and was a key figure in forming a three-party coalition that in 2010 finally ended Communist control of the national parliament on a ticket of ending corruption and market reforms.
The ruling coalition's alleged over-enthusiasm for European integration and its willingness to accept structural reforms that would harm living standards of low-income Moldovans were effective weapons for Dordon and the Communists in the Chisinau race, Infotag reported.
Dordon's campaign also attacked the country's weak economy, continuing corruption and poor relations between Moldova and its traditional largest trading partner Russia.
Ballot counts were still in progress on hundreds of other races for the posts of town or village mayor, and local councils. CEC officials said final counts might be available by the end of the week.
Public discontent with the ruling coalition and the weak Moldovan economy was likely to increase Communist control of regional government across the country, according to news reports.