BATTLE LINES DRAWN IN MOLDOVA’S PRESIDENTIAL RUNOFF.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 223
President Mircea Snegur — in office since 1990 — and parliament chairman Petru Lucinschi are competing in Moldova’s December 1 presidential runoff. Snegur received 39 percent of the vote in the November 17 first round. Already backed by one of the two pro-Romanian parties, Snegur has more recently been endorsed for the runoff by the other pro-Romanian party, whose candidate won 9 percent in the first round. Lucinschi received 28 percent in the first round, and has been endorsed in the runoff by the Agrarian-Democratic and Communist parties, whose candidates won 10 percent each in the first round. The raw arithmetic thus gives Snegur and Lucinschi each 48 percent of the vote.
Both alliances are unnatural and marked by distrust among the partners. The two pro-Romanian parties have long and viciously attacked Snegur because of his unwillingness to seek unification of Moldova with Romania. Snegur has now made a tactical alliance with them against the Agrarians who blocked his quest for authoritarian power. The president has made specific promises to enhance the power and influence of the pro-Romanian groups and bring them into the government if he wins the election. Should he win, he may well seek to backtrack from the promises since he fundamentally distrusts those groups. The pro-Romanian groups also remember only too well that Snegur had been their ally in 1989-1991 before dropping them.
Lucinschi for his part is despised by Moldova’s Communists for his role in destroying the old Moldovan Communist party. Appointed party leader by Mikhail Gorbachev, Lucinschi enforced perestroika in the republic at the cost of splintering the Party and facilitating the takeover of political power by a coalition of reformist and nationally-minded groups. As chairman of parliament since 1993, Lucinschi joined with Snegur and the Agrarians to promote the macroeconomic reforms that earned Moldova international approval and credits. The communists attacked Lucinschi during the presidential campaign because of his reformist record, but rallied to him reluctantly for the runoff out of fear of Romanian nationalism. Lucinschi has made clear that he would not appoint any communists to the government if he wins the election.
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