Moldovans are voting again for the second time in less than four months. The snap ballot is a test of whether the electorate will choose the communists – and take the country closer to Moscow – or the opposition liberals and centrists – who favour closer relations with the West.
Last time, the communists won almost 50 per cent of a disputed vote. This time, opinion polls put them on around 30 per cent. The new election was called because the outgoing communist president Vladimir Voronin failed to get parliament to endorse his hand-picked successor. The opposition Liberals, Liberal Democrats and Democratic Party are reckoned to win more than 30 per cent between them this time round and are openly supported by the government in neighbouring Romania. The pro-Western Liberals accused the communists of dirty tricks during the election campaign – claims the communists deny. After the last election opposition supporters ransacked the President’s office and the parliament building. Predominantly young and from urban Moldova, they are a world away from the communist voters who are generally from ethnic minorities and the impoverished villages of Europe’s poorest country.