Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moldovan democracy's finest hour

A stunning victory for democracy and liberty in Moldova. There's no other way to put it. It wasn't just the fact that the opposition defeated the attempt to install a totalitarian president, it was the way they did it and the obstacles they overcame which stand out.

For weeks, Voronin's communists have been using every conceivable trick in the book to try to convince opposition deputies to change sides. These have included moral pressure, threats of criminal prosecution, the continued detention of political prisoners and a rumoured EUR 5m bribe. The opposition didn't blink however, and not a single one of their deputies put personal interests ahead of the good of the country.

What's more, the Communists seemed genuinely surprised that they didn't obtain the 'golden vote'. I guess they had started believing their own propaganda, which is always a fatal mistake. Voronin was visibly rattled and switched of the microphone on Corina Fusu, thus denying freedom of speech to one of the people's representatives.

The icing on the cake was the way in which the opposition effected their boycott of the vote. In a show of organisation and complete unity, they stood up and left the room row by row as their leaders indicated that they would not participate.

Democracy is not built in a day, but instead is the result of many years of struggle. In the UK for example, democracy evolved over a thousand of years or more as liberties were gradually extended, institutions built and the powers of the king circumscribed. The Magna Carta, Habeus Corpus, the Civil War and the abolition of slavery were major events that marked this progress.

Today in Moldova may turn out to be such an event. Let's hope that history looks back on 20 May 2009 as a day when the country took a great step forward, a day when its people and parliament said 'never again' to rigged elections and gross abuses of human rights.

My warmest congratulations to the opposition deputies. Today, you have earned the trust of the Moldovan people..You have taken the offensive to the communist regime. Don't let up - keep going until the prize of a democratic and representative parliament is achieved and young Moldovans once again have a future in their own country.

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