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Pro-West parties lead in Moldova, but impasse is likely to continue

By Brian Walker, CNN
A voter casts her ballot in Moldova's capital, Chisinau, on Sunday.
A voter casts her ballot in Moldova's capital, Chisinau, on Sunday.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The election pits a loose coalition of liberal-leaning parties against the Communist Party
  • Early returns show the Alliance blog with more than 50 percent of the vote
  • But the party has failed to gain enough seats in parliament to break an impasse
  • The former Soviet republic is holding its third election in two years
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(CNN) -- With nearly all votes counted Monday, a loose coalition of pro-Western parties appears to have come out ahead of the communists in Moldova's elections, but the bloc failed to secure enough votes to break a parliamentary impasse that has left the country without a president for the past year and a half.

With 95 percent of Sunday's ballots tallied, the three top parties in the current ruling Alliance for European Integration bloc appear to have locked in 57 representatives in the 101-seat parliament, according to the state news agency Moldpres. That leaves the communists with 44 seats -- enough to block any move by the Alliance to name a president.

The constitution calls for the president to be chosen by at least 60 percent of the representatives in the 101-seat parliament.

The still-uncounted votes come from Moldovans voting outside the country in the former Soviet state's third parliamentary election in two years.

The election pitted the ruling Alliance bloc against a Communist Party that held a firm grip on power for most of the past decade.

Among the three leading parties in the so-called Alliance, the Liberal Democratic Party had secured 28.6 percent of the vote, the Democratic Party 12.9 percent and the Liberal Party had 9.3 percent -- giving the Alliance over 50 percent of the vote Moldova's Central Election Commission posted. The Communists had secured 40.5 percent of the votes.

A fourth party in the current Alliance failed to pass the 3 percent hurdle needed to claim seats in the parliament -- leaving the coalition facing a decision to either split off members from the communists, or face defections of their own.

The former Soviet republic earned independence from Russia in 1991, but it has remained deeply divided, with the Alliance pushing for European Union membership and the Communists hoping to build stronger ties to Moscow.

The Central Election Commission reported that more than 1.6 million registered voters had cast their ballots, with turnout standing at 59.15 percent nationwide. That figure easily surpassed a key threshold requiring at least a third of eligible voters to submit ballots for the election to be considered valid.

A national referendum in September to switch from parliamentary voting to a direct presidential election failed to draw enough votes to count after opponents urged a boycott.

The constitution calls for the president to be chosen by at least 60 percent of the representatives in the 101-seat parliament.

"It would be good if today all of us united and brought the country out of the crisis," Moldova's acting President Mihai Ghimpu said Sunday, according to Russia's Interfax news agency. "I am very hopeful that as a result of the elections, Moldova will get four years of a democratic rule. This will allow us to get closer to the European Union, raise people's welfare, ensure a worthy life for them with pensions, wages, jobs."

The current pro-Western alliance won the last election in July 2009, following an earlier poll won by the communists that spring that sparked widespread street violence.

The Romanian-speaking nation has a largely rural population, with nearly a third living under the poverty line.