The Moldovan Election Commission has announced complete preliminary results of the local elections on June 5 that were seen as a crucial test of the liberal ruling coalition. The results indicate that the country remains nearly evenly divided between the three-party Alliance for European Integration (AEI) and the Communist Party.
Perhaps the closest contest and the most important -- the race for mayor of the capital, Chisinau -- will go to a second-round runoff within two weeks. Communist Party candidate Igor Dodon polled 48.07 percent, while Dorin Chirtoaca, of the Liberal Party, which is one of the three Western-leaning AEI parties, trailed closely with 46.51 percent.
Central Election Commission Chairman Iurie Ciocan announced the runoff at a press conference in the capital on June 7, saying that "neither candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes."
Dodon immediately rejected the results, saying the vote-count had been rigged and promised to file a legal challenge to the results. He claims he won the election with 53 percent of the vote.
The Communist candidate for Chisinau mayor, Igor Dodon
In voting for the Chisinau Municipal Council, the Communists will have 26 seats while the AEI parties will have 25, according to the preliminary results.
Moldovan political scientist Octavian Ticu told RFE/RL the results show how divided the country remains.
"The Moldovan Communist Party remains a real political force, one that must be taken into account," Ticu said. "The Communists are not gone. In fact, all the victories of the ruling alliance have been hard-fought, and the transformation of Moldova is an arduous process."
'Fighting Among Ourselves'
The elections were seen as an opportunity for the AEI coalition to demonstrate that it is a unified bloc capable of moving the country forward. But Mihai Ghimpu, head of the Liberal Party, told RFE/RL on June 6 that the three parties failed to do so.
"We should have projected an image of internal cooperation, to show our voters that we get along well and work together well, even in such tough times, to show them that we are marching together to change the situation," Ghimpu said. "But we gave them a different picture -- fighting among ourselves instead of working for the public."
Dorin Chirtoaca of the Liberal Party
Voters went to the polls across the country to elect mayors, city councils, and other posts -- more than 12,000 positions in all. Turnout was reported to be more than 54 percent.
The Communist Party also fared well in voting outside the capital, polling the best preliminary results in 21 of the country's 32 districts, according to unofficial tallies. The party won the mayoral race and a City Council majority in the city of Balti. In Cahul, the Communists forced a runoff election.
However, the Communists won majorities in just six districts, with the AEI parties taking the other 26 districts and announcing today that they will continue to function together as a bloc.
Overall, the Communist Party remained the country's leading single political party, picking up 23.78 percent of the vote in mayoral elections and 30.25 percent in local council elections. Taken together, the AEI parties took 59.22 percent of the vote in the mayoral elections and 56.12 percent in the council voting.
Moldova held parliamentary elections twice in 2009 and again in November 2010, with all of those polls producing legislatures nearly evenly divided between the Communists, on one hand, and the AEI parties, on the other. None of those legislatures was able to muster the 61-vote majority needed to elect a president.
RFE/RL correspondent Robert Coalson contributed to this report