Moldova: Communist support grows massively
In February 2001, Moldovan communists won more than 50 per cent of the vote in general elections. Now they enjoy the support of 72 per cent of Moldovans. The Communists came to power promising to return living standards to Soviet-era levels by bringing Moldova closer to Russia and into the Russia-Belarus Union. The break-up of the Soviet Union tragically affected every republic and Moldova was no exception. The living standards dropped to abysmal levels. Social ills, never known before devastated the small country. Prostitution, drugs, criminality and abject poverty became a normal part of life. With an average income of less than US$1 per day, many Moldovans sought jobs outside Moldova. Since January 9 this year, the opposition Christian Democratic People's Party (CDPP) organised mass anti-government demonstrations. They began after the government introduced the mandatory study of the Russian language in schools and announced plans to make Russian an official language alongside Moldovan. (Note: The proposals were subsequently dropped). However, the opposition continued to organise demonstrations, demanding the government's resignation. Protests peaked in March, with an estimated 50,000 people rallying in the capital on March 31. The rallies, widely believed to be financed from overseas organisations, were counterproductive and raised the popularity of the ruling Communists. Charles King of Georgetown University in Washington, said that the protestors are in the minority. "My view — and the view of many analysts outside Moldova — is that [the protestors] probably aren't terribly representative. "In fact, the current demonstrations may have the long-term undesirable (sic!) consequence of actually strengthening the position of the Communist government. This was a government that was elected in elections that were deemed by all parties — even the current opposition — to be free and fair", King said. The Christian Democrats won only nine per cent of the vote in the elections and since then its support has dwindled to six per cent. The PPCD represents pro-Romanian circles in Moldova and with only 11 seats in Moldova's 101-seat parliament, it has limited political power but great ambitions to re-unite with Romania.