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Europe's poorest country Moldova holds election

External relations - 06-04-2009 - 16:45
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A Moldovan votes in Chisinau 5 April. The 101 Parliamentary seats were contested by 12 political parties and 5 independent candidates. ©Belga/EPA/D.Doru

A Moldovan votes in Chisinau 5 April. The 101 Parliamentary seats were contested by 12 political parties and 5 independent candidates. ©Belga/EPA/D.Doru

Sunday saw voters in Europe's poorest country Moldova head to the polls to elect a new Parliament. Around two and a half million people were eligible to vote and a group of MEPs were there as part of an international team of election observers. The 6 member team welcomed the organisation of the poll but were concerned about the role of state broadcasters and the lack of voters among the large Moldovan population abroad. Here we take a look at Moldova.

Early results put the Communists on the road to victory over their opponents.
 
People: Moldova is slightly bigger than Belgium with a population of 4.3 million, most of whom live in the capital Chisinau. Almost 80% of people are Moldovan with significant Ukrainian (8.4%), Russian (5.8%), and Gagauz (4.4 %) minorities.
 
Economy: Moldova is the poorest country in Europe in terms of its GDP. About 1 in 4 adults work abroad supplying 40% of the country's GDP. Moldova is mainly agricultural, producing some reknown wine. It imports all its gas.
 
History: Most of today’s Moldova was under Tsarist Russia when it was called Bessarabia, today’s name is derived from the historic Principality of Molodva. After the Russian revolution of 1917, the Democratic Republic of Moldova was proclaimed in 1918 and shortly afterwards joined Romania with which Moldovans share many historic and cultural links.
 
The territory was annexed by the USSR in 1940 after the Hitler-Stalin pact divided Romania. Although independent from the USSR since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Nistru (Dniester)  River, next to the border with Ukraine, supporting the unrecognised "Transnistria" breakaway region, made up mainly of Russian and Ukrainian speakers.
 
Politics: The Constitution dates from 1994. It is a Parliamentary democracy with one chamber which elects the President who in turn appoints the Prime Minister.
 

Citation

State broadcasters had blurred the distinction between the role of state officials and their campaign activities
EP Election Observers
2009 Election: Speaking in Chisinau on Monday 6 April Estonian Socialist MEP Marianne Mikko "noted real improvements in comparison with the 2005 parliamentary elections" explaining that polling stations officials and voters were fully aware of electoral procedures.
 
Ms Mikko noted however that "further efforts must be made, in particular with regard to the position of the public broadcasting organisations". The international observers, in a joint statement, said that "the media provided constant opportunities to candidates to convey their message but that state broadcasters had blurred the distinction between the role of state officials and their campaign activities."
 
The statement goes on to say that the campaign "was affected by frequent allegations of intimidation of voters and candidates, and claims of misuse of administrative resources".
 
Ms Mikko also voiced concern in relation to the low numbers of registered voters (just 22,000), among Moldovans living abroad who number between 600,000 and 1 million.
 
EU relations: Moldova  and the EU first established contractual relations through a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA), which entered into force in 1998. In February 2005, was on this basis adopted the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) Action Plan, which sets out clear steps and priorities and is a useful tool guiding Moldova through its reform process.
 
In November 2005 the EU launched a Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) aiming to prevent smuggling of persons and goods, and ensure that companies based in the breakaway Transnistria region, only export to and via Ukraine with official Moldovan stamps.
 
 
REF.: 20090403STO53395