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The BBC's Mark Reid
"This communist victory is largely due to older voters in rural areas"
 real 28k

Monday, 26 February, 2001, 10:02 GMT
Communists win in Moldova
Communist campaign balloons at a Moldovan market
Voters chose the Communists amid economic distress
Moldova's Communist Party has won a clear victory in the country's general elections, with near-final results giving them just over 50% of the vote.

Preliminary results
Communists: 50.2%
Braghis Alliance: 13.5%
Christian Democratic Popular Party: 8.2%
97% of votes counted
Party leader Vladimir Voronin - who is now set to become president - said he would retain centrist Dumitru Braghis as prime minister.

The prime minister's Braghis Alliance finished a poor second to the Communists, with about 13.5% of the vote.

Analysts say the results reflect popular anger at market reforms, which have left many people in extreme poverty since the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Only one other party - the Christian Democrats - achieved the 6% of votes required to enter parliament.

No going back

Dumitru Braghis
Dumitru Braghis: Lost badly, but will be kept on as prime minister
Elections were called by President Petru Lucinschi, after parliament failed on four occasions to elect his successor.

Centrists consistently blocked Vladimir Voronin's bid to become president.

But with the Communists likely to hold over 70 of the 101 seats in the new parliament, Mr Voronin is certain of election to the presidency.

"It is not possible ... to go back to the old times, he said.

Vladimir Voronin
Vladimir Voronin is set to become president
However, he favours making Russian an official language, along with Romanian which was adopted as the state language after independence.

About one-third of Moldova's 4.3m people speak Russian as their mother tongue, and most people are bilingual.

Asked whether he would consider joining a union with Russia and Belarus, Mr Voronin said he had not ruled out the idea.

The union has been seen as a recreation of the direct ties to Moscow which existed during the Soviet period.

IMF role

After independence in Moldova, the Communist Party was banned for three years.

Communist poster
The Communists promised hope in bleak surroundings
After a decade of half-hearted privatisation, the Communists advocate state ownership of key industries, including the potentially lucrative wine business.

The Communists promised higher salaries and a return to the order and jobs for life of the Soviet era.

However, Mr Voronin has also said that he is ready to work with the International Monetary Fund, which last December approved a $142m loan, vital for the country's economy.

The retention of Mr Braghis as prime minister is, analysts say, partly intended to allay international concerns about the Communists' return to power.

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | Europe
Moldova's electricity war
27 Aug 00 | Media reports
Two Moldovas celebrate independence
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Moldova
23 Feb 01 | Europe
Leaving Moldova for a better life
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