CHISINAU, Moldova – Moldova's governing pro-Europe alliance was leading the opposition Communists, election results indicated Monday, but it appeared the coalition was just short of winning enough legislative seats to end the country's year-long political deadlock.
With more than 99 percent of the votes counted from Sunday's election, the three liberal parties of Prime Minister Vlad Filat's Alliance for European Integration led with 52 percent of the vote, against the Communists' 39 percent. Final results are expected later Monday.
The current tally would give Filat's alliance 59 seats, and the Communists 42. But 60 percent of the 101-seat legislature — a minimum of 61 votes — is needed to elect a president.
Votes were still being counted from the 600,000 Moldovans who work abroad and who tend to favor the pro-Europe alliance, which includes the Liberal, the Democratic and the Liberal Democratic parties. Those ballots could provide the alliance with the extra seats it needs to elect a president, but analysts said the result was too close to call.
On Monday afternoon, Filat said the leaders of the Alliance parties should meet Tuesday to discuss forming the next government.
Communist leader Vladimir Voronin, who was president of Moldova from 2001 to 2009, offered to form a coalition with the Democratic Party, but its leader, Dumitru Diacov, said he prefers to stick with the alliance.
Turnout was about 60 percent of the country's 2.6 million eligible voters.
International observers said that the elections were carried out democratically. Tonino Picula, who headed a team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the election "was a positive step in the process of democracy" in Moldova.
Monica Macovei, who headed the European Parliament's election observer mission, echoed Picula's opinion.
Moldova lies in Eastern Europe between Ukraine, another former Soviet republic, and Romania, which is a member of the European Union. Moldovans have average monthly salary of euro235 ($310) — one of the lowest in Europe.
The Communists favor closer trade, customs and political ties with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which would keep it firmly in the orbit of the former Soviet Union.
The governing alliance is pursuing market and democratic reforms, and would like Moldova to become a member of the European Union, something it acknowledges would take years. It is supported in those efforts by Romania. Moldova was part of Romania until 1940, when it was annexed to the Soviet Union.
Moldova does not want to join NATO.
Riots broke out in Chisinau, Moldova's capital, after an April 2009 election when opponents claimed the Communists had rigged the vote to hold onto power. A new election was held in July 2009, and the Communist Party lost its majority. But parliament was dissolved after the alliance couldn't produce enough votes to elect a president.
Associated Press writer Alison Mutler contributed to this report from Bucharest.