In a state that has become hotly contested in the battle for influence between Russia and the West, Moldova's parliamentary election results indicate that the country will continue in a pro-Europe direction. With nearly 90 percent of ballots counted, Moldova's three pro-Europe parties — the Liberal Democratic Party, the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party — are set to gain 57 or 58 seats of the 101 seats in parliament. This would give them a narrow, ruling majority in parliament, assuming the three parties agree to form a coalition. However, the pro-Russia Socialist Party and Communist Party are set to gain 43 to 44 seats, serving as a strong counter force to the government's Western orientation.
The sharp rise in support for the Socialists is particularly significant. Pre-election polls showed the party had 7 percent of the vote, but it actually earned more than 21 percent in elections, the most of any single party. This increase was largely driven by a decision made by the Moldovan constitutional court just prior to the vote to ban the pro-Russia Motherland Party from elections because of alleged financial contributions from Russia. This channeled the party's support to the Socialists, which is now the key party to watch among the pro-Russia opposition. The Socialists' first place finish, as well as the Communists' third place finish (with almost 18 percent of the vote), is a reflection of Moldova's deep political divisions and the polarization between pro-West and pro-Russia sentiment.
Despite the victory of pro-West parties, the government still faces obstacles to completing its EU integration plans — most notably in dealing with the pro-Russia separatist region of Transdniestria and the autonomous Gagauzia region. Russia's military presence in Transdniestria, as well as calls among Gagauzia's leadership for greater autonomy, will continue to give Moscow leverage in the competition with the West over Moldova.