Thursday, July 30, 2009

Preliminary Results

Moldova's CEC has released the following preliminary results:

Moldova704876 (45.07%)29812 (1.91%)115288 (7.37%)224527 (14.36%)256570 (16.4%)197206 (12.61%)29322 (1.87%)6440 (0.41%)

The PCRM received 49.5% of the vote in the April election, falling off about 5% (or 55,263 votes). Perhaps the most striking difference is the drop in wasted votes. Around 15.2% of all votes cast were allocated to parties that did not pass the threshold in April, compared to 4.2% yesterday. Wasted votes magnified the PCRM's seat acquisition in April.

While the lower threshold in yesterday's election may have influenced the behavior of voters and parties, the number of contestants and distribution of votes tightened rather than increased. Indeed, institutional changes are less likely to have influenced the number of competitive parties than the unusual circumstances of this election and the consequences of the April protests.

If the preliminary results are certified, opposition parties should have 53 seats (and the PCRM 48). This would allow the opposition - if it could work as a cohesive group - to elect a speaker. The PCRM's opponents have a history of discord and strife, however. In my recent book, I sketched a portrait of the Moldovan opposition, noting that it behaved like its kin in many post-Soviet countries. While the opposition is united by a desire to challenge the party-of-power, it is divided on strategy and tactics. This disunity is manifested in a proliferation of parties, often headed by strong personalities, who cannot coordinate long-term cooperation. In cases where the opposition successfully ousts an entrenched government, as in Ukraine, the opposition quickly dissolves into warring factions.

With these results in place, Moldova's opposition coalition would fall well short of the 61 votes needed to select the president. While another early election cannot be held for a year, it is likely that partisan rancor rather than reconciliation is ahead. Victory celebrations may be held in Chisinau today, but the (metaphorical) knives are likely to come out soon as each opposition group tries to carve out its share of the spoils.

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