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Moldovan High Court Backs Government Plan To Expand Voting Abroad


Members of a local election commission empty a ballot box onto a table before a vote count in Chisinau last year.

Members of a local election commission empty a ballot box onto a table before a vote count in Chisinau last year.

CHISINAU -- Moldova's Supreme Court has upheld a government decision last month to open dozens of polling centers at the country's diplomatic missions, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.

The opposition Communist Party had challenged the plan by Moldova's pro-Western government to create some 45 new polling stations for a constitutional referendum due on September 5, in addition to those usually opened in 33 Moldovan embassies.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had criticized previous governments for failing to safeguard the political rights of Moldova's huge number of migrant workers, because they could not vote in elections.

But the Communists, who intend to boycott the referendum, say the polling stations at diplomatic missions violate the law. They have also accused the authorities of planning to fix the results from abroad.

On August 17, the Supreme Court rejected the Communists' objections.

The referendum on whether the president of the country should be elected directly by the citizens was announced by the ruling Alliance for European Integration as a way to overcome the yearlong constitutional and political deadlock that resulted from parliament's failure to elect a new head of state.

Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca told RFE/RL on August 17 that the voting at the diplomatic missions will be monitored by political parties as well as by a mission from Moldovan civil-society groups and is likely to be supported financially by the Council of Europe and the European Union.

The majority of the additional polling centers will be in EU countries that don't have Moldovan embassies.

The Central Election Commission intends to send about 125,000 ballots abroad, which amounts to approximately 5 percent of the total number of Moldovan voters.

Hundreds of thousands of Moldovans work abroad.

Slightly more than 17,000 voters cast their ballots abroad during the last elections in July 2009. Most of them supported the pro-Western parties that won the elections and eventually formed the governing coalition.

The September 5 referendum is expected to be followed by fresh parliamentary elections in mid-November. If voters in the referendum opt for the direct election of the president, the election will be held with the parliamentary elections.
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