Moldova’s parliament has failed to elect a new president – so the result is the increasing of the possibility that the country will have to hold a new general election.
The Communists needed 61 votes in the 101-seat parliament to elect their candidate Zinaida Greceanii – the problem is that they have only 60 seats in the parliament.Voronin, president since 2001, cannot seek a third term in office; but he has secured the position of parliament speaker, a job he hopes will enable him to maintain control of Europe’s poorest country.
Zinaida Greceanii is seen as a loyalist easily controlled by Voronin. A second Communist candidate – Stanislav Groppa, entered to make the contest look more competitive, won no votes.
In her address to deputies, Greceanii vowed to uphold the sovereignty and neutral status of the former Soviet republic. She also pledged to promote Moldova’s integration with Europe and intensify efforts to solve an 18-year-old “frozen conflict” with separatists in the Russian-speaking Transdniester region.
“I will direct all my strength to enhancing Moldova’s statehood,” she told the session.
“A solution to Transdniester is absolutely necessary for the existence of our state. We need to resume negotiations on Transdniester in an internationally recognized format.”
If a second vote on 28 May also fails, parliament will have to be dissolved. Opposition parties have vowed to maintain their boycott, forcing dissolution and a new general election. The result of the last parliamentary election, in April, gave the Communists 60 seats – one short of the three-fifths majority needed to elect a president.
Although international observers said the election was generally fair, many young people felt the result was stolen, and thronged the capital, Chisinau, on 7 April, attacking the parliament building.President Vladimir Voronin and his government accused neighbouring Romania of stoking the violence, causing an angry row between the countries.
Mr Voronin has to step down after the maximum two terms in office. But he has been elected speaker of parliament – a move analysts say could enable him to retain his hold on power.
April’s general election opened up deep divisions between Moldovans.
Many older people were content to keep the Russian-backed Communists in power, while the younger generation generally backed the centre-right opposition parties, who are keen to move closer to the EU and improve ties with Romania. Mr Voronin’s successor will lead the poorest country in Europe, where the average wage is just under $250 (£168) a month, and will inherit an unresolved conflict over the breakaway region of Trans-Dniester.