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Last Updated: Monday, 7 March, 2005, 13:29 GMT
Moldova Communists stay in power
Soldiers queue to cast their vote in Chisinau, Moldova
Moldovan troops voting: Soviet-era Communists now look west
Moldova's governing pro-Western Communist Party has won parliamentary elections with a reduced majority.

The Communists took 46% of the vote, but lost ground to the opposition Democratic Moldova bloc and the Christian Democratic Popular Party.

The Communists will have enough seats to pass laws but will not be able to elect the next president on their own.

They used to be pro-Russian but now want closer ties with the EU. Tensions with Russia overshadowed Sunday's poll.

Russia shunned

The Moldovan authorities accused Russia of trying to influence the ballot.

On Saturday, 100 Russians who said they were election observers were barred from entering the country.

President Vladimir Voronin passes election observers as he casts his ballot in Moldova
President Voronin has distanced himself from Russia
International observers said the elections broadly met international democratic standards.

But the election "fell short of some key commitments, particularly regarding campaign conditions and media access," said the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The centrist Democratic Moldova bloc, which wants improved ties with Russia and the West, won 28.4%.

The Christian Democrats, who support closer ties with neighbouring Romania, had 9%. Moldova shares a language and cultural traditions with Romania.

Opposition parties warned of possible fraud in the election process, and there were calls for rallies on Monday in protest.

Only two other parties crossed the 6% vote threshold needed to gain seats in parliament.

The Communist leader, President Vladimir Voronin, had pledged to continue Moldova's push towards European integration.

Two million voters are estimated to have cast their ballots.

Turnout was put at more than 60%.

The election raised tensions already simmering between Moldova and Russia.

In the weeks before the poll, dozens of Russians were arrested in Moldova, accused of spying.

Russia has threatened trade sanctions and a visa regime for Moldovans in a row over Trans-Dniester, a region populated mainly by Russians and Ukrainians which broke away from Moldova in 1992.


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Why there are tensions between Moldova and Russia




SEE ALSO:
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Country profile: Moldova
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