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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Moldova Elects New Parliament

ReutersVoronin and his wife, Taisia, leaving a ballot booth in Chisinau on Sunday.
CHISINAU, Moldova -- Moldovans went to the polls on Sunday to vote for a new parliament that will choose a replacement for President Vladimir Voronin, the only Communist leader in Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Voronin, in office since 2001, cannot stand for a third consecutive term but has made it plain that he wants to remain close to power by taking another senior post in the manner of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Voronin's Communists, who hold 56 of the 101 seats in the outgoing parliament, are far ahead in a field of 15 parties, with support of 36 percent, according to latest opinion polls.

Three opposition parties, broadly favoring closer ties with Romania and the European Union, lie far behind. But opinion polls also showed that one in three voters were undecided before the election, and Voronin on Sunday did not rule out forming a coalition in the parliament.

"We don't know the results, so I can't say with whom we could create a coalition or whether to at all," he said after casting his vote. "It would be good for as many parties to get in ... then there'll be someone with whom to create a coalition."

The Communists need 61 seats if they want to vote through their candidate for the presidency. No candidate has been named.

Three other parties are more amenable to working with the Communists, and they may pass the 6 percent of support needed to gain a seat in the parliament.

Voronin has overseen stability and economic growth since 2001 but has been unable to solve the rebellion in its breakaway region of Transdnestr. The region, like in previous elections, boycotted Sunday's vote.

With little mineral resources, Moldova's economy depends on agriculture, including wine production, and remittances from the hundreds of thousands who left the country to work in EU states.

The Communists gain much of their support from the older generations and civil servants.

"I have been a party member for 45 years, and I am not about to leave it," said Vasile Sadovschi, a 70-year-old pensioner voting at a station on the outskirts of Chisinau. "I will vote Communist until I die."