The small eastern European state of Moldova is facing an election tomorrow where outside influences will play a huge role. This second election in three months is seen as the only way of resolving a political crisis caused by the failure of the outgoing Communist President to get parliament to rubber-stamp his hand-picked successor. The Communists are expected to win tomorrow, but they may not take enough seats to guarantee their choice.
The opposition Liberal Party, pro-Western and close to neighbouring Romania, accuses the Communists of authoritarianism and corruption. “During this campaign, violations by the Communists have got even worse,” said Liberal Party deputy chairman Dorin Chirtoaca. “They turned off the electricity during our campaign meetings, and we believe the police also created obstacles for us.” The Communists have strong support in the countryside and among retired people. They deny allegations of dirty tricks. “The Communist Party respects the electoral code,” said Communist Party spokesman Sergiu Sarbu. “All ministers involved in the campaign have suspended their normal work. They are not using official cars or administrative support.” Deep differences between the government and the opposition exploded in April, after the Communists claimed a disputed election victory. If anything, in the past few months, the gap between the Western-leaning opposition and the pro-Russian Communists has widened. Adding to the volatile mix, Moldova was once part of Romania, and speaks the same language. The Communists say Bucharest is behind much of the recent trouble. Romania openly supports the opposition, and has also been accused of wanting to re-absorb Moldova within its boundaries. Indeed, about 20 percent of Moldova’s four and a half million people have received, or applied for, Romanian passports. Romania is part of the European Union, and that gives Moldovans a glimmer of hope for a better future away from their country, the poorest in Europe. About 600,000 Moldovans already live and work abroad, either in the EU or in Russia.