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Results of the first round of elections in Gagauzia

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Igor Botan / September 13, 2012
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The first round of elections to the People’s Assembly of Gagauzia ended on September 9, 2012 with the election of 13 out of 35 deputies. Representatives of the three main political parties from the region were satisfied both with their results and with the way the campaign developed. The second remark is important because the last 2008 elections turned into scandals and blocked the activity of the People’s Assembly. The Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) formally won 3 seats in the first round, like four years ago; the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) got one seat, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) received one seat, and eight independent candidates were elected. Twenty-eight out of 44 candidates who will compete in the runoff vote are independent, 10 candidates represent the PCRM, 5 candidates participate on behalf of PLDM, and another one represents the PSRM.

The intrigue of elections is very intensive before the runoff vote. Gagauz leaders constantly note what everybody knows: the so-called independent candidates are actually affiliated to the civic platforms Gagauzia Unita (United Gagauzia) and Gagauzia Noua (New Gagauzia), led by Governor Mihail Formuzal and Comrat Mayor Nicolai Dudoglo respectively. The intrigue is that even after the first round of elections no one knows the certain number of elected legislators and candidates running for the runoff vote who represent the civic platforms of the two leaders. For example, the next week after the first round, the mayor of Comrat and leader of the civic platform, Nicolai Dudoglo, held two news conferences to tell journalists that 7 out of 8 legislators elected in the first round would be adherents of his platform. In addition, 15 candidates affiliated to Gagauzia Noua will participate in the runoff vote in 22 electoral districts. On the other hand, Nicolai Dudoglo invited political forces from the region which will be represented in the People’s Assembly to cooperate with the strongest political force.

In his turn, Governor Mihail Formuzal likes the results of the first round of elections, with media outlets supporting him saying that his civic platform Gagauzia Unita would have won 3 seats in the first round and would be represented by 10 candidates in the runoff vote. The situation is unclear one more time, as nobody is sure that the 3 elected legislators and the 10 runoff election candidates are part of independents or of representatives of other political parties but PCRM. The results registered by PCRM in the first round are equivalent to those recorded four years ago: three elected legislators and 10 candidates for the runoff vote. While opponents of PCRM allege that this party is losing ground in Gagauzia, PCRM leaders assure that their party got a great result; given the fact that it was ruling the country four years ago and now is an opposition party.

The victorious rhetoric of regional leaders, which is dull here and there and contains a political blackout, is not senseless after the first round. Under these conditions, leaders fill up their rating to lure undecided independents and legislators and candidates representing PLDM, PDM and PSRM. The great stake targets at post-election period, when factions of the People’s Assembly will be built, so that to make a majority and elect the Assembly’s leading bodies. The greatest long-race stake is to strengthen positions of emerging leaders from Gagauzia, who will probably compete for the seat of governor of the region in December 2014.

After Governor Mihail Formuzal won the second mandate in 2010, Comrat Mayor Nicolai Dudoglo and Irina Vlah, PCRM member of the Parliament of Moldova, became emerging leaders of Gagauzia. Both of them were relatively successful rivals of Formuzal, with Nicolai Dudoglo winning 31.84 percent of votes and Irina Vlah gaining 30.96 percent. So far, Governor Mihail Formuzal could be succeeded by Fiodor Gagauz, formal leader of the civic platform Gagauzia Unita, who was elected legislator in the first round of elections. However, Fiodor Gagauz could hardly become an emerging leader besides Nicolai Dudoglo and Irina Vlah, though he is popular in the region and ran key offices in the Comrat administration. Perhaps, that’s why Fiodor Gagauz proposed after the first round of elections to build a broad coalition with the participation of all forces represented in the People’s Assembly. As author of this initiative, Fiodor Gagauz hinted that he would be ready to lead the People’s Assembly if eventual partners elect him. In exchange, this political force or both of them with the two emerging leaders could build upon support of Gagauzia Unita to elect the Governor in December 2014.

Messages by Gagauz leaders invoked above say that things will be clear after the runoff vote. In these circumstances, the final result of PLDM is very important, too, as its political ally, Governor Mihail Formuzal, could deploy PLDM parliamentarian Piotr Vlah, in charge with activity of the party in region, and compete in 2014 with emerging leaders of the civic platform Gagauzia Unita, in case of a relatively good final result.

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