Local elections held today as government teeters
Around 2.8 million Moldovans are going to the polls in local elections today in the middle of a political crisis in the country.
Voting was reported to be heavy at the start of the day with the 1,977 electoral bureaus (polling stations) opening at 7 a.m. and reporting 12% turnout by 10 a.m. local time. Polling stations close at 9 p.m. local time.
The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) says that 1,116 offices of district councillors, over 10,000 posts of local councillors and 898 offices of mayor are up for election today.
At the last elections in June 2011 898 mayors, 1120 members of district councils and 10,630 members of city or village councils were elected.
In the capital Chișinău a CBS-AXA poll late last month put pro-European incumbent Mayor Dorin Chirtoacă of the Liberal Party (PL) on 33.7% whilst his main rival the pro-Russian Zinaida Greceanîi of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PRSM) is on 24.5%. These elections are worth watching carefully because the three pro-European parties were unable to form a stable government after the general election last November and it is currently a minority government in place. If the Russian leaning Socialists do well in the local elections then there could be political problems ahead and a possible early general election.
There will be a runoff vote on 28th June in those seats where no candidate received more than 50% of the vote.
Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici resigned two days ago reportedly as a result of the falsifying of school certificates, but a much more serious problem facing the country is a missing $1 billion which was taken from three banks in the form of loans around the time of last November’s general election. It is possible that voters could punish the pro-European minority government in today’s local elections and give the pro-Russian socialists control of large swathes of local government.
When the Prime Minister resigns the whole government follows and goes into caretaker mode until a new government is formed. The leader of Gaburici’s Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM), Vlad Filat, has called for the rapid formation of a new government, something that didn’t happen after the general election as the pro-European parties fought amongst themselves.