From LABOR-L@YORKU.CA Sat Apr 7 07:06:48 2001
Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2001 13:51:20 -0400
Sender: Forum on Labor in the Global Economy <LABOR-L@YORKU.CA>
From: Charles Brown <CharlesB@CNCL.CI.DETROIT.MI.US>
Subject: Moldova returns to communism

Moldova returns to communism

From Charles Brown, 4 April 2001

CHISINAU, Moldova—Moldova has become the first former Soviet state to elect a communist as its leader.

The eastern European nation's parliament elected Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin as the new president on Wednesday.

The result was widely expected after Moldova's communists swept to power in general elections in February.

Moldova's economy has declined by two-thirds since independence in 1991 and over 80 percent of its 4.3 million population survive on less than one dollar a day.

Voronin, 59, a former baker and police general, captured 71 of the 89 votes cast by members of parliament.

He beat two other candidates. His Communist Party holds 71 of the 101 seats in parliament, the largest of the three parties in the chamber. One party abstained from voting.

Another Communist candidate, Valerian Christea, won three votes while former prime minister Dumitru Bragish got 15 votes.

“I call on all the parties in parliament and outside to reconcile and take the country out of the crisis,” Voronin said after the vote.

He said his priority was to reach a settlement with eastern Moldova's Slavic separatists, who broke away in 1992 after a war that claimed 1,500 lives.

Voronin pledged to continue relations with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

He also promised to have good relations with neighbouring Ukraine and Romania.

He replaces centrist President Petru Lucinschi, who dissolved parliament in December after it failed four times to elect a new president.

Voronin immediately pledged to abolish the “bourgeois” post of president as running counter to the egalitarian principles of the Communist Party.

After a long-running power struggle between the deputies and the president, Moldova's parliament last year abolished direct nationwide presidential elections and made it easier to impeach the president.

Voronin said he would hold referendums on making Russian the second language after Moldovan, which is similar to Romanian, and on joining a Russian-Belarussian Union—a project which Moscow and Minsk have long discussed.

Voronin urged all political forces to unite to resolve the country's problems and pledged to end a long-running feud between different branches of power.

“On February 25 (the parliamentary election) authorities in corrupt and poor Moldova received the thumbs down from voters: they want changes,” said Voronin. “There is no ‘them and us'—there are only Moldovan citizens who deserve a better life.”

The former Soviet republic is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with an average wage of $33 per month.