Moldova Between Red and Brown, Young and Old

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I don’t claim much knowledge on the intricacies of the explosive situation in Moldova.  For anyone who has been asleep the last few days, Moldovan students are attempting their own “colored revolution.”  On Tuesday, over 10,000 students ransacked the Moldovan Parliament demanding new elections after a Communist Party electoral victory on Sunday.  The Communists won around 50 percent of the electoral, beating out their fractious liberal rivals, and claimed a super majority of 60 seats in Moldova’s 101 seat parliament. The students claim mass vote falsification. But unlike the innocuous colors of orange, tulip, and rose, the Moldovan youth appears to favor blood red.

Anyone interested in unfolding events from a variety of sources should check out Scraps of Moscow.  Lyndon’s knowledge of Moldova is impeccable.

For an breakdown of why the Communists won, see Vladimir Socor’s “Ten Reasons Why the Communist Party Won Moldova’s Elections Again” from the Eurasian Daily Monitor. Of Socor’s ten reasons, I find these two most compelling:

4) The Communist Party is the only major party with a multi-ethnic electorate. Most opposition parties (including all three that have now entered the parliament) rely entirely on ethnic Moldovan voters (a minority of whom define themselves as Romanians) and have not seriously attempted to reach out to “Russian-speaking” voters. Many “Russian-speakers,” who defected from the Europe-oriented Communist Party in recent years, crossed over to small pro-Moscow groups or declined to vote, rather than joining Moldovan opposition parties. The Communist Party was able to offset that loss by increasing its share of the ethnic Moldovan vote.

5)Exit polls, conducted by Western-funded NGOs, showed that the Communist Party made significant inroads into young age cohorts for the first time in these elections. As the poll coordinator, sociologist Arcadie Barbarosie (head of the Soros Foundation’s local affiliate) observes, the Communist Party can no longer be stereotyped as a “pensioners'” or Soviet-nostalgics’ party (Moldpres, Imedia, April 6).

Two reasons why the Communists won was because they crossed ethnic lines and generational lines.

In this author’s summation, the liberal parties appeal to “pan-Romanian nationalistic ideology,” makes this crisis one between the Communists and the far Right.

Or is generational conflict really at the heart of the protests?  The centrality of youth is something that Lyndon emphasizes in this rundown of events.  As these two participants/eyewitnesses testify,

The students are discontented with the election result. Most of the people who voted for communism are old people, but old people are dying and there are more young people voting now than before. So the result is definitely not true. It’s not logical.

We don’t want to be governed by the communists anymore. I think the Communist Party should be outlawed, just like the Nazi Party is outlawed in Germany.

. . .

Most of the people in Chisinau voted for the democratic parties. I’ve been asking friends, neighbours, people on the street.

Indeed in the villages, where there are only old people left, most people would vote for the Communist Party. But the young people of our country want a better life, they can’t be satisfied with $150 a month.

Another interesting component to the protests that attest to their youthful flavor, is the use of Twitter as a mobilizing tool. As the NY Times, explains

The sea of young people reflected the deep generation gap that has developed in Moldova, and the protesters used their generation’s tools, gathering the crowd by enlisting text-messaging, Facebook and Twitter, the social messaging network.

The protesters created their own searchable tag on Twitter, rallying Moldovans to join and propelling events in this small former Soviet state onto a Twitter list of newly popular topics, so people around the world could keep track.

Or as Carroll Patterson, a doctoral student on Moldovan economics, told the Times,

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it an anti-Communist movement,” Mr. Patterson said. “This really is a generational squeeze. It’s not really the Communists versus the opposition. It’s the grandmothers versus the grandkids.”

At the center of the protests are two youth organizations, Think Moldova and Hyde ParkNatalia Morar, the Moldovan journalist who was banned from Russia last year, is one of the Think Moldova leaders.