Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 57

Moldova’s elections held on March 22 have produced a fragmented parliament. Turnout was a relatively high 68 percent, despite Transdniester authorities’ refusal to permit the balloting in that territory. Some Transdniester residents voted at polling stations on the right bank of the Dniester. International observers pronounced the election free and fair.

Only four parties and blocs have managed to surmount the four percent threshold that qualifies for representation in the 101-seat parliament. The Communist party (CP) received 30 percent of the vote and 41 parliamentary seats. The Democratic Convention, 19 percent and 26 seats; the Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova, 18 percent and 24 seats; and the Party of Democratic Forces, 9 percent and 10 seats. (See Monitor, March 23, for profiles of these parties and blocs).

Contrary to some instant analyses from the Russian media, the Communist party is not the winner in these elections. Election results seem to presage the complete isolation of the CP in the new parliament. The other three parties to be represented in the legislature have all ruled out an alliance with the Communists — and reaffirmed that refusal yesterday. The CP’s relatively high score is attributable to its having inherited the Russian and Russian-speaking electorate of the Socialist Unity bloc, plus a small part of the Agrarian Democratic party’s indigenous electorate.

The demise of the Agrarians and Socialists is the most striking result of this election. The Agrarians had numerically dominated the parliament and government from 1991 to 1997, and the Socialists were the second-largest bloc in the outgoing parliament. Internal feuding played an important role in the demise of these two forces. Even more significant, however, has been the indigenous Moldovan electorate’s loss of confidence in the Agrarians after six years of economic hardship; and the urban Russian electorate’s switch from Socialists to Communists after the relegalization of the CP.

The Democratic Convention’s main components — i.e., the Popular Front and ex-President Mircea Snegur’s Party of Rebirth and Conciliation — have each retained virtually the same share of the vote and number of seats which they had had in the preceding parliament. This is also the case with the Party of Democratic Forces.

The Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova is a new presence in the political arena. It has inherited a share of the Agrarian vote and a relatively small share of the Russian or "russophone" vote, the latter thanks to the Civic party allied to the MDPM. The movement’s strength in parliament, however, is insufficient to make it the centerpiece of the new government, as President Petru Luchinschi would have preferred. Only a coalition comprising all three of them, if it were possible, would enjoy a viable parliamentary majority. (Basapress, Flux, Monitor interviews, March 23)

Another Ajar Warning to Tbilisi.