Preliminary Results Show Unexpected Winner of Moldova's Elections
Despite expectations that it will occupy third or fourth place in the Sunday parliamentary elections, the pro-Russian Socialist party of Moldova is in the lead, according to preliminary results.
With around 85 % of the votes counted, the Socialist Party gathers 21 %, followed by the leading party in the pro-European government coalition – the Liberal Democratic Party with 19 %.
Third is another pro-Russian party, that of the Communists, followed by the other two parties constituting the government coalition – the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, the Central Election Commission of Moldova announced.
Despite their surprising victory, the Socialists are unable to form a government, and even if relying on the Communists' support, they are short of majority, as the two collect 39 % of the votes.
The three pro-European parties garner among themselves about 44 % of the votes, with expectations that they might form a grand coalition with the Communists to keep Moldova on the European track.
As no single party is able to achieve a stable majority in the 101-member unicameral Parliament, tough negotiations are forthcoming between the five parties surpassing the threshold.
The elections were described as the most important in the history of the former Soviet republic since its independence in 1991, as these are to determine which path the countries chooses – closer EU integration or strengthening ties with Russia.
The leader of the Socialists, one of whose slogans called for a thriving Moldova alongside a strong Russia, warned on Sunday that his party's results would be a surprise to everyone.
Igor Dodon headed his party delegation to Moscow on November 4, where he met with President Vladimir Putin and Russian Ministers, promising to cancel Moldova's Association Agreement with the EU in case of victory at the elections.
The surprising results are disappointing for the Communists of former President Vladimir Voronin, as they were expected to win around 23 %.
According to the Vox Populi polling agency, the Socialists who had seceded from the Communists in 2011, were expected to win around 15 % at the most, while other agencies even estimated their chances below 10 %.
However until the last moment about a third of the voters were undecided, while another pro-Russian party was banned from participation in the elections due to illegal funding from Moscow.
The voter turnout reached 56 %, but it is still a far cry from that in the 2010 election, when it was above 65 %.
This year's elections were contested by 19 parties, one party bloc and four independent candidates, under stricter conditions for entering Parliament.
The electoral threshold for parties was increased from 4 to 6 %, that for two-party blocs was 9 %, while a coalition of three or more parties had to overcome 11 % barrier.
Similarly to Ukraine, Moldova has experienced strained relations with Russia, following the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU in June, when Moscow imposed an embargo on Moldovan agricultural imports.
Furthermore, since its independence Moldova has lacked sovereignty and territorial integrity, as the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria is not under control of the central government in Chisinau.
Citizens in the breakaway region were allowed to vote in 2010, but this time they were denied this opportunity.
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