Page last updated at 13:24 GMT, Monday, 27 July 2009 14:24 UK

Q&A: Parliamentary election in Moldova

 Moldovan glances at Communist Party posters
The Communist Party is expected to gain the majority of the votes

Moldovan voters go to the polls on 29 July, only months after the last election sparked rioting on the streets of the capital Chisinau.

The second vote became necessary after opposition parties conspired to prevent parliament electing a replacement to President Vladimir Voronin.

Why is a re-run necessary?

The Communist Party won 60 of the 101 parliamentary seats in the 5 April general election.

That was just one short of the 61 votes needed to meet the three-fifths majority required to elect its presidential candidate, the current Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii.

The opposition had boycotted the vote, accusing the Communist Party of rigging the election, which was followed by widespread riots. A second vote in parliament for the president also failed.

The opposition united to block the selection of a new president, and so forced a new general election.

How does the system work?

Members of Moldova's 101-seat unicameral parliament are elected for a four-year term by proportional representation through direct ballot.

Parties secure seats in parliament if they win at least 5% of the vote. This is a new threshold which was lowered from 6% by the Communist parliamentary majority shortly before parliament was dissolved.

Mr Voronin has already served his maximum two terms in office.

What about the voters?

The constitution calls for a minimum turnout of 33% on election day.

If fewer than 33% (plus one) of voters cast their ballots, then a repeat election is to be called within a fortnight.

There were 2.5 million registered voters in April, according to the electoral commission. The commission has not released the number of voters registered for the July poll.

Polling stations will be opened from 0700 to 2100 local time (0400-1800 GMT).

Voters must be Moldovan citizens aged 18 years and above.

As before, Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region will stay out of the election.

Trans-Dniester residents with Moldovan passports are required to vote at any one of 10 polling stations along the border with the rebel region.

Who is challenging the Communist Party?

Three opposition parties hope join the Communist Party in parliament - the Liberal Party, the Liberal Democratic Party and the Our Moldova Alliance.

Other smaller parties are unlikely to gain enough votes for a seat.

The opposition parties have pledged to create a ruling coalition after the 29 July election if they collectively gain enough votes.

They have also said that they will co-operate with the Communist Party in the new parliament if the "early election is fair, democratic and transparent".

The Moldovan Communist Party (PCRM) is expected to gain the majority of the votes in the snap election. But it will be seeking to gain enough seats to elect government bodies, including the president, without the support of other parties.

The Communist Party has campaigned on what it sees as the social, economic and political successes of its eight years in power. While it advocates greater integration with the European Union, the party also favours developing a strategic partnership with Russia.

In the 5 April election the Communist Party won 49.48% of the vote and 60 out of 101 parliamentary seats.

Although it was considered to be the strongest opposition party in the previous election campaign, the Our Moldova Alliance (AMN) secured only 9.75% of the vote on 5 April. AMN leader Serafim Urechean has said that his party's main task is to oust the Communists from power.

The AMN says that if elected it would start negotiations on accession to the European Union within four years. It has also pledged to strengthen co-operation with Romania and Ukraine.

TheLiberal Party (PL)was the most successful opposition party in the April poll, winning 13.13% of the popular vote. Its deputy leader is the young pro-Western mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Chirtoaca. He is the only opposition politician who so far has been summoned and questioned on suspicion of attempting to usurp power and organising the 7 April protests.

Of the parties expected to gain entry to parliament, the Liberal Party is generally seen as the most right-wing.

The Moldovan Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) was established in late 2007, but it succeeded in winning 12.43% of the vote in the 5 April election.

The PLDM's success has been attributed to an aggressive election campaign and its promotion of young candidates, most of whom are graduates of Western institutions.

PLDM leader Vlad Filat has been accused by the Communist Party of staging the 7 April unrest.

What are the main issues?

Post-election disturbances
A key feature of this campaign was the rioting that followed the 5 April election, with parties accusing one another over the disturbances and the ensuing political crisis.

The Communist Party has repeatedly blamed both the opposition and external influences for the riots. President Voronin said that the "29 July parliamentary election will be a referendum on Moldova's independence" from this alleged foreign influence.

European Union membership
All of the mainstream political parties support the integration of Moldova into the European Union. They differ on the degree to which this ambition influences the country's relations with Russia. The Communist Party has said that it "does not regard European integration as a sort of friendship aimed against anybody".

The economy
Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with a large foreign debt and high unemployment. Its wine trade, one of the staples of the economy, is in sharp decline and the country is heavily dependent on Russia for the supply of energy. The Communist Party has pledged to increase the average monthly salary to 500 euros by 2013 and double the state budget. The opposition parties have focused on encouraging foreign investment.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.

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