Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Back to the Future: An Overview of Moldova under Voronin

Academic journal article Demokratizatsiya

Back to the Future: An Overview of Moldova under Voronin

Article excerpt

The overwhelming victory of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) in the February 25, 2001, parliamentary elections, greater than any poll had predicted, came as a complete surprise, even to the Communists. The Kremlin was equally caught off guard, especially because speculation had it that leading up to the elections they had been paving the way for a power-sharing deal between the incumbent team of President Petru Lucinschi and Prime Minister Dumitru Braghis and the Communists as their best alternative. (1) In a free and fair election with a relatively high voter turnout of 67.52 percent, the PCRM won 51.07 percent of the votes, an absolute majority. Coming in a distant second was the Braghis Alliance with 13.36 percent of the votes. The only other party to clear the 6 percent hurdle necessary to gain seats in parliament was the pro-Romanian Christian Democratic Popular Party (CDPP) with 8.24 percent. After the proportional distribution of the remaining seats in parliament, with the Communists also getting the lion's share, the PCRM commanded a total of seventy-one of the one hundred one seats in Parliament. This not only gave them far more votes than the sixty-one needed to elect the next president, but even more than the necessary two-thirds to amend the constitution. The parliamentary opposition now only consisted of the Braghis Alliance with nineteen seats and the CDPP with eleven. (2)

The purpose of this article is twofold: first, to take a brief look at how the PCRM has carried out its overwhelming mandate in the areas of domestic politics, foreign policy, and the economy, and second, to discuss the consequences of Moldova's transition from communism to democracy and a market economy as the PCRM's first term in office draws to a close.

Considering that Moldova had become the poorest country in Europe, the PCRM's commanding victory probably should not have come as a surprise. Since declaring independence in 1991, Moldova has had the largest fall in gross national product (GNP) and living standard of any former socialist state in Europe. In 2000, with the GNP a mere 30 percent of what it was ten years before, average nominal monthly wages were let 405 (532), about two-fifths of the minimal monthly consumer basket. For pensioners, the average monthly pension, a pitiable let 84, only covered 18 percent of the consumer basket. (3) Approximately 80 percent of the population was living on less than $1 a day. (4) One of the few avenues of escape from this seemingly endless poverty has been emigration. A poll taken shortly before the February 2001 elections by the Romanian Center for Opinions and Market Studies (COMS) found that 36 percent of Moldovans wanted to leave the country and work abroad for some time, and 26 percent wanted to leave "'for good." (5) The number of those who have emigrated varies widely. In 2003, the Moldovan Department of Statistics and Sociology reported that 234,000 people, or 11.4 percent of the work force, were working abroad or were looking lot work outside the country. Other governmental agencies, claiming that many workers have slipped through the official statistics because they are working abroad illegally, have cited figures of 600,000 or more. (6) The International Labor Organization (ILO) recently calculated figures of approximately 600,000. (7)

The Communists could not have asked for a better scenario. Accusing the opposition of failing to deliver on their promises of economic growth by their mishandling of market reforms, which the Communists by and large opposed, and being responsible for the collapse and general pauperization of the country, the Communists conducted an antireform, populist campaign that emphasized a greater role for the state in the political and economic processes and in society overall. This included clamping down on corruption, setting price controls, reinstating the old Soviet raion system of local control, raising pensions and wages for state workers, and creating a system of real social guarantees to ensure a decent life for citizens. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.