Interesting times in Moldova.
Yesterday's election appears to have turfed out Moldova's ruling Communists, perhaps disproving the view that the country has a "managed democracy" along Belarusian lines, or indeed Russian or Iranian lines.
As with Belarus, the end of the Soviet Union left Moldova poor and dependent on the Russians, a situation aggravated by rapid "market reforms" instituted in the early 1990s.
These proved so unpopular that the Communists came back in 1997, although they've been more or less new-style, with a record of continued privatisation and alleged corruption.
There are plenty of other problems, too. The country has been a major source of trafficked women for Western Europe and elsewhere. Grimly, if you type Moldova into Google, the top suggestion from autocomplete is "Moldova girls".
Human rights violations have been rife, especially after the post-election riots earlier this year. In addition to torture and other mistreatment, one person died in disputed circumstances. That'd never happen here. A new administration will also want to make some progress about the long-running dispute over the Transdniestra, something my former boss has taken a close interest in.
Curiously, the opposition, presumably soon to be the government, is made up of four parties, with the three larger groups almost evenly sized. They are the Liberal Democratic Party (16.6%), the Liberal Party (14.4%) and the Democratic Party (12.5%). I guess Western-leaning Moldovans want both Liberalism and Democracy, but if pressed, they prefer the Liberalism.
More seriously, even the fourth opposition party, Our Moldova Alliance, is large enough to keep the Communists in power if they did a deal. Wikipedia explains their heritage here. They're an amalgamation of four other parties, one of which was confusingly also called the Liberal Party, which was itself a merger between three parties, one of which in turn derived from yet another merger between two parties.
With this convoluted family tree, stability looks like it'll be hard to achieve, but even though Moldova may be a faraway country about which we know little, it borders the EU and its people deserve better.