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Moldova's political impasse continues as referendum fails

By Mila Sanina and Brian Walker, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The country has been without a president for more than a year
  • Constitution calls for the president to be chosen by 60 percent of representatives
  • Only 28.8 percent turns out for referendum
  • It is unclear what happens next

(CNN) -- Moldova's political stalemate is set to drag on after a referendum calling for direct election of the country's president failed due to low voter turnout, the nation's Central Election Commission said Monday.

Moldova, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, has been without a president for more than a year now due to deep divisions in the eastern European nation's parliament.

The current constitution calls for the president to be chosen by at least 60 percent of the representatives.

With nearly all the votes counted from this weekend's poll, just 28.88 percent of registered voters turned out, said Yeuree Cheokan, the head of elections.

Under the former Soviet republic's rules, at least a third of the registered voters needed to turn out in order for the measure to be considered valid.

The ballot measure had been engineered by the ruling pro-western coalition to break the stalemate with the country's communists, who had urged supporters to boycott the vote.

It's not clear what happens next.

Cheokan says that under Moldovan electoral law no similar referendum can be brought to a vote for at least two more years.