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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Voronin Warns Moldova’s Existence at Stake in Vote

CHISINAU, Moldova — Outgoing President Vladimir Voronin told Moldovans on Friday to back his ruling Communist Party in this week’s snap parliamentary election or run the risk of having the state wiped off the map.

Moldovans will vote on Wednesday for the second time in less than four months. The Communists won the last contest in April, sparking violent demonstrations, but their victory margin was not big enough to get their candidate elected by the parliament as the next president.

Most of Moldova was once part of Romania. Voronin, who must step down after two terms, has portrayed liberal opposition parties backing closer ties with Romania as being bent on having their country swallowed up by its western neighbor.

“For the first time, you will be choosing not between programs and promises, not who governs and who is in opposition, but between development and chaos, stability and violence, civic dignity and political treachery,” Voronin said in an appeal published in newspapers Friday.

“Maintaining our statehood, restoring trust and constructive cooperation in civil society is impossible without a decisive victory by the Communist Party.”

Opposition parties, he said, had “failed to learn the lessons of their defeat [in April] and were continuing to bank on hostility, confrontation, provocation and the defeat of democracy and our independence.”

The few opinion polls published show the Communists in the lead with more than 30 percent support.

But combined support appears to be slightly higher for the three or four opposition parties likely to clear the 5 percent barrier to win seats in the 101-member assembly.

The Communist vote in April stood at just below 50 percent, giving them 60 seats — one short of the tally needed to guarantee the election by the assembly of a president.

Young protesters angry at the prospect of further Communist administration ransacked the parliament and the president’s office.

Opposition parties alleged mass vote rigging but distanced themselves from the unrest, while Voronin accused them of plotting a coup and said Romania had fomented the violence.

Voronin relies on rural voters who see the Communists as reliable providers of pensions and basic services. Educated, better-off urban residents tend to back the opposition.

Moldova has close historical and cultural ties with Romania, an EU member, but it also has long-standing links with Russia.

Voronin has varied in his alliances, initially aligning with Moscow but later accusing the Kremlin of abetting Russian-speaking separatists in Transdnestr.