Hundreds of protestors continue to flood the streets of Moldova’s capital to protest an April 5 parliamentary election that handed the ruling Communist Party of President Vladimir Voronin some 50 percent of the ballot, claiming the vote was rigged.
Protestors fear the election result will allow Voronin, who must soon step down in accordance with constitutional term limits, to wield power from behind the scenes as the new Communist-led parliament is responsible for choosing his successor.
Reporting from Chisinau, FRANCE 24’s Romain Goguelin said the protestors, mostly students, were disappointed with the election results and “fed up” with the ruling party. “They want the end of the Communist regime,” he said.
Opposition leaders, demanding a recount, held talks on Tuesday with Voronin and Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii. Election officials have refused to review the election results.
But George Jewsbury of the Centre for Russian, Caucasian and Central European Studies in Paris told FRANCE 24 that despite opposition claims of vote rigging, “Given the region, it was a reasonably fair election”.
In its preliminary findings, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which monitored the vote, said it met many international standards overall but expressed concern over “frequent allegations of intimidation”.
OSCE spokesman Matti Sidoroff said the real problems arose during the campaign ahead of the vote. The press was “rather openly favouring the [ruling] party,” he said, while providing “exclusively negative” coverage of opposition candidates.
Despite competing claims on the vote’s legitimacy, the protests may ultimately have more to do with economics than with politics. Jewsbury says the current unrest is largely a generational issue, as students and the young unemployed experience “total frustration” with the lack of economic opportunities in their country, which is the poorest in Europe.
“I don’t think it’s ideological at all,” he said, adding that the protests were likely to die out and not lead to an opposition victory as seen during Georgia’s Rose Revolution of 2003 and the 2005 Orange Revolution in Ukraine. “I can’t see it going much farther,” Jewsbury added.
Some 10,000 demonstrators seized control of the presidential offices and the parliament building on Tuesday, setting it on fire. One woman died in the protests and at least 100 people were injured. Moldovan authorities have since regained control of the president’s offices and parliament and arrested some 193 opposition protestors, with Voronin vowing to crack down on protest organisers.