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Moldovan Opposition Jockeys To Form Ruling Coalition

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin: Out the door?
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin: Out the door?
CHISINAU -- When the Communist Party won Moldovan parliamentary elections in April, thousands came onto the streets to protest.

One vote and nearly four months later, the contrast of the workaday bustle on the hot, sunny streets of Moldova's verdant capital underscored the change signaled by the opposition's victory.

Pro-Western opposition parties are scrambling to form a broad governing coalition after unseating the last ruling Communist Party in the former Soviet Union in the July 29 parliamentary elections.

International election observers cited a number of electoral violations but praised the vote overall as "positive."

Liberal Democratic Party leader Vlad Filat said this time the opposition had overcome the Communists' efforts to manipulate the election.

"After eight years of authoritarian Communist rule, the opposition has finally won victory in an election, and Moldova has won the chance to develop democracy," Filat said.

Opposition In Talks

Filat said the opposition would renew political trust broken by the Communist Party by seeking to unite the electorate.

He said the four opposition parties that won parliament seats in the vote -- polling a combined total of almost 51 percent -- were conducting talks to form a new governing coalition. He declined to answer questions about how the talks were progressing.

Mobile phones belonging to the entourage of the man at the center of speculation, Marian Lupu, were switched off. Lupu, a former Communist who last month split with the ruling party to head the Democratic Party, has said he wants to be part of a broad national governing coalition.

Counting ballots in Chisinau on July 30
He said he's ruled out joining the Communists in a two-way alliance, but it's not clear in what capacity he would join the three other opposition groups. The combined opposition will not have enough seats in parliament to elect a new president without some Communist votes, and some believe the opposition could get them if they nominate Lupu.

Lupu hasn't ruled out a multiparty coalition that would include the Communists.

But political analyst Vlad Lupan agrees with many who said he could capitalize more on his party's 13 percent showing in a coalition without the Communist Party.

"Politically, it is in his better interest to actually enter into such a coalition with the opposition partiers and eventually negotiate with them either the government with these parties or the departure of the Communist Party from power," Lupan says.

The Communists remained largely silent in the 24 hours since polls closed. Their leader, President Vladimir Voronin, said on election night that the "most important achievement" was that "we were able to organize civilized and democratic elections."

'Positive,' Not Perfect

Opposition leaders claim they would have won far more votes if the Communists hadn't manipulated the elections.

But international observers have said the violations didn't affect the vote's overall outcome.

Petros Efthymiou, head of a delegation from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, said the monitors evaluated the vote "overwhelmingly positively."

"Yesterday's parliamentary elections in Moldova were well administered, allowing for competition of political parties representing a plurality of views, and they met many international commitments," Efthymiou said.

Among top violations the monitors cited were "inconsistent" voter lists and "subtle intimidation and media bias" in favor of the Communists.

Competing Visions

Analysts said the election results reflect society's growing impatience with corrupt rule in Europe's poorest country. The protesters who came out onto the streets in April accusing the party of rigging elections exposed a deep split between young, Western-looking Moldovans and the elderly and rural voters who favor stronger ties with Russia.

Opposition leaders have since promised sweeping economic and democratic reforms, and their victory looks set to move Moldova away from Russian influence toward integration with the European Union.

It will also likely help repair strained relations with Moldova's neighbor, EU member Romania. Much of Moldova was part of Romania until World War II. In April, Voronin accused Romania of trying to overthrow his government, a charge Bucharest vehemently denied.

Romanian President Traian Basescu says no help for Voronin this time.
Romania's president, Traian Basescu, said on Romanian state radio after the July 29 elections that Voronin could no longer count on his support.

"Voronin might remember that I helped him form a majority after elections in the past," Basescu said, without elaborating, "but this time Voronin will not have my support to build a majority in parliament and elect [Moldova's] president."

Moldova Votes Again

Related Blog
Through the eyes of RFE/RL correspondents and editors, guest bloggers, and other contributors who are following the July 29 national elections from the streets of Chisinau and far afield. Plus tweets and pics. More

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