The first credible-looking opinion poll has been released ahead of the July 29 election. The poll is published by Moldova's Institute of Demographers and Sociologists and appears to have been produced in a statistically rigorous manner.
It gives the Communists 29.7% of voter preferences, Liberals 13.3%, Liberal Democrats 12.8%, Moldova Noastra 7.9% and the Democrats 7.1%. All other parties (including the Christian Democrats) fall below 3%.
So what do these results mean?
1. If the Christian Democrats want to have any credibility with respect to the values they purport to hold, they should now withdraw in favour of the parties that most closely share those values (i.e. anyone except the Communists)
2. The opposition can take heart from their relatively strong showing versus the communists, which can only improve in the next two weeks as the message about 7 April gradually filters out and the economy continues to deteriorate.
3. Moldova Noastra in particular can take heart that it is comfortably above the threshold and that it's electorate should not be worried about losing their votes.
4. The Democrats appear to be taking votes from the Communists rather than the liberals, which is fine by me.
In terms of parliamentary seats, the key variable is the undecided vote. in Moldova this traditionally flows strongly to opposition parties. If, say, we reallocate it on the basis of the expressed preferences, we get the following result:
As you can see, the liberal block (PL + PLDM + AMN) would be the largest in parliament. It would have the power to block a presidential election but could not approve a government or enact law without the support of the Democrats. Similar comments apply for the Communists.
In theory, a Communist - Democrat majority could be formed in Parliament. This would be temporary, however, as they could not elect a president and eventually new elections would be called. More likely in my view is a Lupu presidency (supported by all groups) and a government approved by a liberal - democrat coalition.
Also in theory the Communists could play hardball and trigger new elections by boycotting the presidential vote. I don't think they can afford to do this, however. The liberals and democrats will write new electoral laws empowering their electorates (students, overseas voters). They will also free TRM, allowing the full horror of eight years of communist government to be understood by all of Moldova's people for the first time. The communists would only lose further in the event of fresh elections; their best hope would be to sit through four years of opposition and then try to return to power in 2013.