Moldova’s three main pro-Europe parties appeared yesterday to be able to form a new coalition government, despite the pro-Moscow Socialist Party taking first place in Sunday’s election. With 87 per cent of the vote counted, according to the election authorities, the three parties – the Liberal Democrats, the Liberals and the Democrats – had a combined vote of 44 per cent – enough to win a majority in the 101-seat parliament. This was in spite of the pro-Russia Socialist Party taking a surprise lead with 21.5 per cent of the vote and the communists, who wish to revise part of a trade deal with the EU, taking third place with 17.8 per cent. The three-party coalition, led by Prime Minister Iurie Leanca’s Liberal Democrats, has piloted one of Europe’s smallest and poorest countries along a course of integration with mainstream Europe since 2009, culminating in the ratification of a landmark association agreement with the EU this year.
Sunday’s vote took place in the shadow of a separatist war in neighbouring Ukraine triggered by it following similar pro-Europe policies that set it on a collision course with Moscow. Pre-election surveys showed deep division over whether ex-Soviet Moldova should stick to the pro-Europe path pursued for the past five years or move back into Russia’s orbit.
This, together with the coalition’s poor record of fighting corruption and conducting deep reform, as well as Russian pressure on Moldova to change course, had raised questions over the coalition’s ability to hold on to power. “The three (coalition) parties, whose strategic aim is European integration, will have no difficulty in forming a ruling majority even without the help of the parties of the left,” said analyst Oazu Nantoi, director of the Institute of Public Policies political research centre.