Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 79

The findings of a Moldovan public opinion survey, the most comprehensive in recent years, go a long way toward explaining why the country went Red, why it keeps getting Redder, and why the Romanian-minded “right-wing” Christian Democrat People’s Party (CDPP, the renamed Popular Front) has failed to rally the populace after three months of leading nonstop protests in Chisinau’s central square.

The Institute for Public Policies (IPP), Moldova’s leading private-sector think tank, funded by the Open Society Institute (Soros Foundation), commissioned the survey. Romania’s internationally respected Institute for Marketing and Surveys (IMAS) collected the data on March 20-31 and issued the findings on April 17-18. The underdevelopment of public opinion polling in Moldova necessitated inviting a Romanian organization, particularly for a complex survey such as this.

The survey found the following electoral preferences. If parliamentary elections were held in a week’s time, 73 percent of voters would cast their ballots for the Communist Party, compared with 50.5 percent in the February 2001 parliamentary elections and 68 percent in a November 2001 poll. Six percent would, in a week’s time, vote for the CDPP, and 3 percent for the “centrist” Braghis Alliance of former Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis, which is also represented in parliament. Lesser percentages would accrue to nonparliamentary parties, including that of former president (1990-1997) Mircea Snegur with one percent electoral support. An absolute majority of 54 percent believes that Moldova needs a single party, only 10 percent a multiparty system.

Political leaders were found to garner the following approval ratings. The Communist President Vladimir Voronin, 45 percent; Braghis, 3 percent; CDPP leader Iurie Rosca and Chisinau mayor Serafim Urecheanu, 2 percent each; Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev, Parliament Chairwoman Eugenia Ostapciuc, Social-Democrat leader (and IPP senior analyst) Oazu Nantoi, and Snegur, 1 percent each. A subtotal of 42 percent are undecided or do not approve of any presidential aspirant. This means that Voronin would handily win a presidential election by popular vote, probably in the first round, certainly in any runoff. Eighty-four percent of voters favor amending the constitution so as to elect the president by popular balloting, not by the parliament.

State and public institutions rank as follows in terms of confidence on the part of society. The [Orthodox] Church enjoys the confidence of 79 percent of adult citizens; the [Communist-held] presidency, 65 percent; the local mayor, 56 percent; the cabinet of ministers, 49 percent; the Army, 48 percent; the parliament, 39 percent; the justice system, 32 percent; the banks, 23 percent; the trade unions, 23 percent; and the political parties as such [irrespective of party preference] in last place with 21 percent public confidence.

Only 28 percent of adults support the Communist Party’s January decision–since suspended–on the obligatory study of Russian in elementary and secondary schools; 65 percent support the optional study. However, 46 percent favor giving the Russian language official status alongside the “Moldovan” (Romanian) language; another 46 percent oppose such a change.

The mass media rank as follows in terms of public credibility. Moldova’s [Communist-controlled] National Television and Russia’s state television enjoy, each, the trust of 61 percent of citizens; Western mass media, 24 percent; Romanian mass media, 22 percent.

Those credibility ratings partly affect the way in which the citizens relate to Russia and Romania, respectively. While 39 percent feel that Russia interferes in Moldova’s internal affairs, 46 percent feel that Romania interferes. The supporters of staying in the CIS and those of joining the European Union are evenly balanced at 41 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, 71 percent accept that Moldova currently needs credits from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Whether East or West, the outside world lures. A total of 52 percent of the total adult population, and 82 percent of those aged 18 to 29, would migrate abroad. IMAS polled a 1,150-strong representative sample of voters in right-bank Moldova, without Transdniester, and allowing for the standard margin of error of 3 percent (Flux, Basapress, April 17-18; see the Monitor, March 6, 11, 18, 28, April 1, 5, 15, 19).