"Moldova's liberals poised to name new president
By Anatoly Golia (AFP) – 1 hour ago
CHISINAU — Moldova's liberal forces appeared on the verge Sunday of finally getting the votes necessary to appoint a new pro-Western head of state for Europe's poorest state.
Two exit polls from Sunday's parliamentary election -- the third in the former Soviet republic in less than two years -- put the three-party liberal alliance well ahead of their Community Party foes.
The RIAS-Publika TV poll gave the liberals 65.1 percent of the ballot while the CBS-AXA marketing firm gave the three parties a combined 56.2 percent of the votes.
The difference is crucial: the ruling party needs to control 61 of the 101 seats in the chamber to appoint a president -- a super-majority that has escaped the liberals since July 2009.
The two polls said the Communist Party had collected between a quarter and a third of the popular ballot. The result reflects the gradual wane in influence that pro-Moscow forces have experienced since the Soviet Union's collapse.
The pro-Western alliance -- which is pushing the country toward EU membership despite its dire economic record -- is composed of Prime Minister Vlad Filat's Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, the Democratic Party of Moldova, and parliament speaker Mikhai Ghimpu's Liberal Party.
The prime minister's group came ahead of the others and is set to assume the leading role in any future negotiations over a head of state.
"These results show that even the seemingly impossible is possible," a jubilant Filat said after polls' release.
"This is the outcome of our persistent work. I would like to thank everyone and hope that these results are confirmed by the actual vote count."
The initial official results will be released at 2100 GMT and updated throughout Monday morning.
The Communist Party had blocked all previous efforts to pick a president who would use a stronger alliance with neighbouring EU member Romania to bring the tiny country into Europe's fold.
And its leaders gave initial signs that they may yet contest Sunday's outcome. They warned of potential falsifications and announced that they were conducting their own independent count of the votes.
"We want to avoid a repeat of past violations," said deposed Community Party chief Vladimir Voronin.
"The people are tired of voting. They want a parliament that will be around for four years," Voronin said.
Such controversy would mark yet another setback of a nation where the per capita Gross National Income (GNI) is estimated at 1,590 dollars and which remains isolated from the European Union and on bad terms with Russia.
The Kremlin has been watching the election closely for signs that it is losing its once-formidable influence on the EU frontier.
And much of the Moscow media has painted the election as a battle between pro-Russian allies and a reckless group of parties that is trying to push the country into an untrustworthy alliance with EU member Romania and the West.
Moldova was in fact a part of Romania between 1918 and World War II -- when it was annexed into the Soviet Union by Stalin.
It remains a Romanian-speaking country with strong cultural ties to Russia and the mix has proven dangerous in the past.
Two people died in April 2009 when protesters successfully demanded a recall of what they saw as a rigged Communist Party election win.
The uprising was led by the youth and became known as the Twitter Revolution -- a protest that was kept alive through instant phone messages and chat rooms on the Internet.
That youthful optimism transformed itself into a slim victory for the liberals in July 2009. But the Communist Party managed to block its choice of president and the capital has been wracked by political turmoil ever since."
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