The Guardian May 8, 2002

Moldova: Communist support grows massively

In February 2001, Moldovan communists won more than 50 per cent of the 
vote in general elections. Now they enjoy the support of 72 per cent of 
Moldovans. The Communists came to power promising to return living 
standards to Soviet-era levels by bringing Moldova closer to Russia and 
into the Russia-Belarus Union.

The break-up of the Soviet Union tragically affected every republic and 
Moldova was no exception. The living standards dropped to abysmal levels.

Social ills, never known before devastated the small country. Prostitution, 
drugs, criminality and abject poverty became a normal part of life. With an 
average income of less than US$1 per day, many Moldovans sought jobs 
outside Moldova.

Since January 9 this year, the opposition Christian Democratic People's 
Party (CDPP) organised mass anti-government demonstrations. They began 
after the government introduced the mandatory study of the Russian language 
in schools and announced plans to make Russian an official language 
alongside Moldovan. (Note: The proposals were subsequently dropped).

However, the opposition continued to organise demonstrations, demanding the 
government's resignation. Protests peaked in March, with an estimated 
50,000 people rallying in the capital on March 31.

The rallies, widely believed to be financed from overseas organisations, 
were counterproductive and raised the popularity of the ruling Communists.

Charles King of Georgetown University in Washington, said that the 
protestors are in the minority.

"My view  and the view of many analysts outside Moldova  is that [the 
protestors] probably aren't terribly representative.

"In fact, the current demonstrations may have the long-term undesirable 
(sic!) consequence of actually strengthening the position of the Communist 
government. This was a government that was elected in elections that were 
deemed by all parties  even the current opposition  to be free and 
fair", King said.

The Christian Democrats won only nine per cent of the vote in the elections 
and since then its support has dwindled to six per cent.

The PPCD represents pro-Romanian circles in Moldova and with only 11 seats 
in Moldova's 101-seat parliament, it has limited political power but great 
ambitions to re-unite with Romania.

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