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What The Communists Fear Most

Mistake-prone? Communist President Vladimir Voronin
Mistake-prone? Communist President Vladimir Voronin
Russian political analyst Vitaly Portnikov has published a commentary on Moldova on that looks at some of the mistakes the ruling Communists have made during the standoff of the last few months.

Portnikov says the Communists and President Vladimir Voronin -- and the majority of outside observers -- miscalculated when they felt confident they'd be able to squeeze at least one opposition deputy to vote for the party's candidate to succeed Voronin as president. They adopted a very uncompromising position, which had the result of solidifying the fractured opposition and, more importantly, emboldening it to seek not just a compromise candidate for president but new elections.

He emphasizes that the opposition scored a major victory when a "new political situation" was created by the defection of former parliament speaker Marian Lupu from the ranks of the ruling party. Lupu was the "human face" of Moldova's Communist leadership. "He was the one who was always on display to the West and to Moldovans to show that the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova is not quite communist -- it is just a name to attract the traditional electorate," Portnikov writes. And, true enough, the party is not made up of devoted ideologues -- Voronin's son is one of the richest people in Moldova.

"But in terms of its methods of governing, it is thoroughly communist," Portnikov argues. And Lupu's departure has raised widespread doubts that it can ever be reformed.

As a result, Portnikov says "the main result of the new elections may be the creation of the objective necessity to share power" -- something the Communists have resolutely opposed for at least the last four years. Looking back to April, he notes that the Communists originally had 61 seats in parliament according to preliminary results – enough to elect a president. But the postelection rioting prompted the authorities to agree to a recount that gave them just 60 seats and gave the opposition the chance to create a standoff.

Now, the question is whether the Communists are more afraid of sharing power or of risking another eruption of violence. The answer to that question, Portnikov concludes, will determine the extent to which the authorities resort to falsification.

-- Robert Coalson