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Backers, critics of European integration to clash in Moldova’s parliamentary election

November 18, 2014, 17:11 UTC+3 Alexandrova Lyudmila
Independence Day in Chisinau, Moldova

Independence Day in Chisinau, Moldova

© ITAR-TASS/Vadim Denisov

MOSCOW, November 18. /TASS/. Moldova’s parliamentary elections due on November 30 will be important in several respects, including geopolitics. It will be a clash between the backers of euro-integration policies and the supporters of the country’s Eurasian development vector and accession to the Customs Union. No one dares to make any forecasts regarding an outcome at this point, as a very large share of the electorate remains undecided.

Taking part in the elections will be 22 political parties and four independent candidates. The numbers of forces of euro-integration supporters and opponents are approximately equal, but about one-third of the voters have not made up their minds yet and it is their sympathies the rivals will be struggling for.

“The nucleus of pro-European forces consists of three member parties of the ruling coalition, called Alliance for European Integration — the Liberals, the Liberal Democrats and the Democrats,” the head of the Moldova and Transdniestria section at the CIS Studies Institute, Sergey Lavrenyov, told TASS. “But they have a powerful opposition — according to opinion polls, 45% of the population do not support the idea of euro-integration.”

The number of critics keeps growing, the expert said, pointing to such reasons as economic problems that followed when Russia restricted the import of Moldovan products after Chisinau signed an Association Agreement with the European Union.

The Socialists, the Social-Democrats and the Rodina (Motherland) party have been calling for cancelling the Association Agreement with the European Union and for joining the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus. The Communists and the Vozrozhdeniye (Revival) party are for cancelling the single-vector pro-European way of development and for a dialogue with the West and the East.

The programs of the ruling parties look very much alike. The Democrats and the Liberal Democrats promise to steer the country into the European Union, to establish better conditions for business and investment activity, to create new jobs and fight corruption. The Liberal Party is pressing for the unification with Romania and Moldova’s membership in NATO.

“The current elections are geopolitical ones,” the director of the Chisinau-based Institute of Public Policies, Arcadie Barbarosie, told the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta in an interview. Two wings, one favoring European integration and the other, Eurasian priorities, will be contesting power. Both have their followers. However, an opinion poll that we held just recently indicated that 30% of the electorate is still undecided.”

At this point it is clear that five parties have secured a representation in parliament — the three ruling parties, and also the Communist Party, which has more supporters than any other, and Rodina. The Socialists, Barbarosie believes, remain close to the six-percent qualification hurdle.

At the same time, the parties that position themselves as pro-Russian should not be unambiguously considered as such, a former foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Dniester Republic, Vladimir Yastrebchak, told Nezavisimaya Gazeta.

“Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the Communists, already changed his eastern bearings for western ones in the past and he may do the same again. The leader of the Socialists, Igor Dodon, is unpredictable, too. Renato Usatii, the leader of the Rodina party, has emerged out of nowhere and what he will do after the elections is anyone’s guess. Traditionally, the Moldovan politicians’ election pledges are very different from their post-election actions. Let’s wait and see what will happen after November 30.”

The marketing and opinion polls institute IMAS-INC has published the results of its latest survey indicating that if a referendum on Moldova’s admission to the European Union were held now, 51% of the respondents would vote for it, while integration with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan would be backed by 49%. As many as 46% are against Moldova’s membership in NATO, while a tiny 25% are for it.

“Forecasting the election returns now is very difficult because too many people remain undecided and the supporters and critics of euro-integration are split evenly,” Lavrenyov said. In his opinion, there are many possible scenarios. If the ruling coalition gains a majority in parliament and forms a government, then the events will most probably follow the mild scenario. If the pro-European parties fail to gain a majority, the effects may be unpredictable. The analyst recalled that the 2009 elections in Moldova ended with mass rioting. “I would not totally rule out the risk of the worst option,” he concluded.

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