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2003 local elections

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March 31, 2003
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On March 20 the Parliament set the date for general local elections, i.e. May 25. Under the election law, the “electoral period” commences immediately the election date is set. Firstly, during the electoral campaign rayon and local electoral districts are established. Secondly, rayon, city and village electoral councils are established. In addition, Central Electoral Commission shall develop jointly with the Audiovisual Council “Concept of election coverage in mass media”. Only after electoral councils are established will the contestants be able to register and engage fully in the electoral race. CEC has already made public the list of 26 political parties eligible to run in elections.

Furthermore, CEC proceeded to the registration of electoral blocs, it already registered “Moldova Noastra” (Our Moldova) Social-Liberal Alliance Electoral Bloc formed by the Social Democratic Alliance, headed by former Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis, Independent’s Alliance headed by incumbent Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean; and Liberal Party headed by Veaceslav Untila. The leaders of the newly established electoral bloc stated that one of its primary goals in the long run is the formation of a joint political party. Apparently, Serafim Urechean would lead the bloc. He already made public his intention to run again for the Mayor position. Experts believe the major stake in the upcoming elections would be the mayoralty of the Chisinau Municipality. Serafim Urechean has pretty high chances to win. However, it is very unlikely that he would win from the first round. In local elections of May 23, 1999 Ureachean was able to win in the first round only because he had been backed by Alliance for Democracy and Reform coalition holding the majority seats in Parliament. Further, the leadership of the National TV backed and electioneered for him extensively. An evidence to this were the numerous complaints submitted in this respect to the CEC. However, this time the context has changed significantly, Urechean has become an easy target for the authorities. Nevertheless, “Our Moldova” may count on good results in elections.

At the end of the week the formation of a new bloc was made public, formed by the Social-Democratic Party and Social-Liberal Party, called PSD&PSL Bloc. Presumably the newly formed bloc would be a long-term one, for one thing “electoral” does not appear in its title. The bloc would most likely face the same identity crisis as “Our Moldova” Bloc, as it also declares itself to be of liberal and social-democratic orientation. PSD&PSL Bloc could count on the votes of Party of Democratic Forces’ elevated electorate, which was quite stable for five electoral campaigns, as was the Christian-Democrats’ one. This electorate of Party of democratic Forces had been scattered in the 2001 parliamentary elections due to denigration and libel campaign against the party leader, Valeriu Matei, accused of being involved in some corruption scandals, albeit none of the said allegations was proven later on. Presumably, after the merger of the Party of Democratic Forces with Social-Liberal Party at least a part of the former’ electorate (accounting for 9%) would be recovered, whereas the alliance with the Social-Democratic Party would enable the newly established bloc to pass the threshold of representation in 2005 parliamentary elections.

Domestic press claims that the PSD&PSL Bloc may designate Viorel Topa, Former Director of the Banca de Economii (Savings Bank) as its candidate for the Chisinau Mayoralty. Viorel Topa is known as a good expert in finances.

Other political parties are currently in the negotiation stage in view of establishing new electoral blocs. On the right wing, front-line Christian-Democratic People’s Party announced that the formation of a single right-wing electoral bloc had failed. That is why, Christian-Democrats who have a very stable and disciplined electorate might form an electoral bloc with another 4–5 small parties. It is unlikely that Christian-Democrats would benefit much from those parties, however the establishment of a Christian-Democratic bloc might eventually determine those small parties to merge with the Christian-Democratic Peoples’ Party, thus aiding right-wing electorate in making their choice in elections.

Christian-Democratic leader confirmed the forecasts made earlier one by domestic analysts with regard to designation of Vlad Cubreacov as the party candidate to the Chisinau Mayoralty. Last year, amidst protest rallies, enigmatic kidnapping and not a less enigmatic reappearance, Vlad Cubreacov has become a very popular public figure, especially in the capital city. Christian-Democrats enjoyed a steady 12% rating in Chisinau even before the protest rallies however, they may count that their positions have strengthened ever since.

So far, it is difficult to predict whether other electoral blocs would be established. As for the left wing, a political alliance has already been formed. Nevertheless, the 10 political parties, which established Center-Left Union, announced they would not run jointly in the upcoming local elections. Obviously the leader of the Union is Communist Party, whose rating, according to some opinion polls, has been steadily growing lately. It is expected that the Communist Party would win in almost all rayon electoral districts. Consequently, Communist Party has all the grounds to go alone in race, as it did in the previous 2001 parliamentary elections. Allegedly, the party would designate Vasile Zgardan, Minister of Transportation and Telecommunications to run for the mayoralty, as he is known as a good manager with extensive administrative experience. Zgardan is not member of Communist Party, but being designated by CP, Zgardan might well compete with the Social-Liberal Alliance’s, Serafim Urechean. Anyway, experts agree that elections outcome would be decided in the second round, and Serafim Urechean and Vasile Zgardan are the most likely candidates to dispute the mayor seat.

Democratic Party leader, Dumirtu Diacov, also Center-Left Union Coordinator, stated that he would rather his party went alone in the upcoming elections. In such a case the party prospects aren’t so bright, albeit it’s impressive number skillful administrators. And this because of the party’s poor performance in the last parliamentary elections when it pooled only 5%.

Each of the 8 parties members of the Center-Left Union have a very low rating, less than 2%. This has lead experts to the idea that those parties joined the Union in attempt to survive on the political arena, nevertheless this desperate move might prove to have an opposite effect. Firstly, the parties would have to constantly prove their loyalty towards their main coalition partner, i.e. Communist Party and refrain from any kind of criticism. Under those circumstances the said parties wouldn’t be able to devise and carry out an efficient electioneering campaign on the left spectrum. Noteworthy, the Union set 3 major goals: reunification of the country by settling Transdnistrian conflict; working out a new federative Constitution; promoting European integration of the Republic of Moldova. It is up to the Communist Party whether those objectives would be achieved or not, the rest of the parties having little saying in this matter. It goes without saying that voters may endorse those objectives by casting their vote in favor of the Communist Party, without the intermediary of the 8 small parties.

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