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Day of silence in Moldova ahead of parliamentary elections

November 29, 2014, 8:30 UTC+3 CHISINAU
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CHISINAU, November 29. /TASS/. The parliamentary elections campaign has ended in Moldova. The “day of silence” is observed on Saturday ahead of the November 30 elections. Canvassing on this day is banned after a series of rallies, debates, mutual accusations and scandals. The Moldovan capital streets decorated with posters and party banners are calm.

Experts say the current election campaign has been one of the dirtiest in the country’s history. The struggle passed against the background of the Ukrainian conflict and noticeable deterioration of Chisinau’s relations with Moscow, due to which the elections have been dubbed here “a referendum on the foreign political choice.” Brussels and Washington have been in every possible way favouring the pro-European leadership of Moldova that together with Georgia has been announced “a success story” after the failures of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership Programme in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus and Ukraine. Despite its numerous problems ranging from rampant corruption to the frozen Trans-Dniester conflict, the republic in April got the visa-free regime, in June the association agreement was signed and in September the EU free trade zone was activated. Moscow, fearing the penetration of EU goods to its market, responded to these steps with restrictions on imports from Moldova.

However, nobody guarantees that the country will have the long-awaited stability after the elections. Public opinion polls have shown that not a single political force has chances to get the majority in the parliament, and so they will have to create a coalition in order to form the government. Sociologists say that chances to clear the 6-percent election barrier had six parties that are nominally divided here into the “pro-Western” and “pro-Russian.” The first group - the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, Democratic Party of Moldova and Liberal Party - are for EU integration, and the Liberal Party is also for joining NATO. They have formed the pro-European line of government in the current parliament that has been in recent years affected by strife between the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party, Vlad Filat, and oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc who controls the democrats. Under the pressure from the West they had to reconcile, reformat the ruling coalition and government. However, the power rating has sunk.

In this connection, three left opposition parties: the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova led by former President Vladimir Voronin, Socialist Party of the Republic of Moldova led by Igor Dodon and Patria (Motherland) Party led by Russian businessman of Moldovan descent Renato Usatii, have got big chances to pass to the parliament and form the majority there. They are strongly against the alliance with NATO, they sharply criticise the power and co-operation of the republic with the EU. They also support Eurasian integration, which, as the same polls have shown, meets the aspirations of most voters. However, literally two days ahead of the elections, the Patria Party that could get 15 of the total 101 parliamentary seats has been removed from the race by the decision of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and Appeals Chamber, and Usatii had to leave Moldova under the threat of arrest. This weighted the scales on behalf of the right forces.

“All this testifies to the agony of the pro-European coalition that, as polls have shown, is losing the elections. The authorities are inciting the opposition to mass provocations with the aim of imposing a state of emergency and cancelling the polls. Therefore we have called on our supporters to be calm,” Dodon told TASS. He said he regrets that Patria has been removed from the race as it could become “a potential partner of the socialists after the elections.”

In the last days ahead of the elections the ruling coalition leaders of the pro-European coalition party intensified campaigning trying to play the European card as it still remains a major factor in the political life. They have been saying time and again that they won for Moldovans the right to travel to EU countries without visas by biometric passports, although such trips give no right to employment to the residents of Moldova from which unemployment has forced out almost half of able-bodied population. They are also trying to convince the electorate that the agreements with the EU may minimise the negative effects of the Russian embargo on Moldovan agricultural produce by means of lifting duties. However, they prefer to hush up the fact that Moldova has failed to use even the privileged quotas that existed several years before due to the fact that Moldova’s products failed to meet European standards. They are also trying to convince the electorate the Moldova will become EU members in the coming years for which promise to submit the corresponding application soon. However, statements of European politicians give no reason for such optimism.

According to experts, for the sake of retaining power the right-wing parties may also try to establish a broad coalition. Thus, U.S. Ambassador in Chisinau William H. Moser told reporters that the Western partners would continue co-operation with the pro-European parties in Moldova even if they have to create an alliance with the communists for this. He said Brussels and Washington had experience of co-operation with Voronin when after the failure of the “Kozak memorandum” he spoiled relations with the Kremlin. Experts say such alliance is also possible with the weakening of the communists after a number of influential politicians quit their ranks. After their departure the party considerably lost in its rating and it stopped to stage protest actions, advocate for the Customs Union (of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus) and its criticism of the power has considerably subsided.

A number of Moldovan political analysts say that ahead of the elections Voronin and Plahotniuc reached agreements under which the communist leader was promised place in the ruling coalition in exchange for loyalty to the future power that should preserve the pro-European course.

However, the final answer to the question what kind of power Moldova will have after the polls will be given by the voters this summer.

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