Moldova communists fall short of majority (maybe)

In Moldova’s snap election, necessitated by the failure of the parliament elected in April to elect a new president, the Communist Party may have lost its majority. It will remain the biggest party, with 41.7% of the votes, according to an exit poll. The next biggest party, the Liberal Democrats, is far behind, at 17.4%.

Most of the opposition parties, combining for just under 54% of the vote, are described as a “pro-Europe” coalition. However, given that they ran separately, it is not clear that they can become a governing coalition. In fact, I would hold off just a bit on the celebrations of a victory, for if the leading party were to have an advantage ratio (%seats/%votes) as great as it had in April, when it was about 1.2, the Communists might yet eke out a very narrow majority.

Moreover, even if the Communists are just short of a majority of seats, or even if there were fewer wasted (sub-threshold) votes this time and the party has only 43% or so of the seats, it could find a partner in this obviously loose and divided “opposition coalition.” In fact, just this morning, DW-TV reported that a coalition of the Communists and one (unnamed) member of this so-called opposition was likely.

Since 2001, when its directly elected presidency was changed to assembly-selected, Moldova has had a parliamentary democracy. However, that was also around the time that the Communist Party, out of power since shortly after the collapse of the USSR, regained its hegemony–temporarily, we now can say. The party continued to have its leader as president of the republic, rather than as prime minister as would usually be the case in a parliamentary system.

Now the party will be unable to determine unilaterally who occupies the presidency. In fact, that was already the case, as it was the inability of the party to command the required 61 votes in the 101-seat parliament after the April elections that constitutionally triggered this snap election. The most likely result may be a compromise in which the Communists entice one of the “opposition” parties by offering it the constitutionally less powerful presidency, while forming a Communist-led minority cabinet (or a Communist-dominated coalition cabinet).

In any case, the election result looks like good news for Moldova’s maturing parliamentary democracy.

Postscript: I have been unable to find the post-2001 version of the constitution on-line, so I am unable to answer Tom’s question in the previous thread, as to whether 61 votes still will be required. Some parliamentary systems allow a majority (51 seats) to select the head of state when a new parliament has been elected due to the failure of the previous one to reach the “required” super-majority.

Obviously, the answer to this question would affect the political calculations sketched above.

One thought on “Moldova communists fall short of majority (maybe)

  1. Detailed results of Moldova’s July 2009 parliamentary election are available in English here, and it looks like the Communists will be three seats short of an absolute majority. However, if they can woo the Democratic Party of Moldova to their side, they would reach the 61 votes needed to fill the presidency.

    Incidentally, the wasted votes stand at 4.2% of the total, which isn’t that much, especially by Eastern European standards.

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