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Moldova fails to pass presidential referendum

06 September 10 06:01
Voter leaves polling booth in Chisinau, Moldova - 5 September 2010

Moldova's prime minister has acknowledged that a referendum to make presidents directly elected has failed.

Although the count was not yet final, Vlad Filat said it was unlikely that the minimum one-third voter turnout would be met.

The election commission said turnout was just under 30% with only votes cast abroad left to count.

The parliament currently elects the president, but no candidate has won the required 60% majority since last year.

"The electorate appears to have been less active than we had hoped," said Prime Minister Filat, one of the main backers of the referendum.

"It seems most likely we will not be able to count on clearing the necessary 33% barrier for recognising the validity of the referendum," Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

The pro-Western liberal governing coalition had proposed the referendum as a way to break Moldova's political impasse.

The country has been without a president since the four-party coalition, the Alliance for European Integration, won a slim majority in the July 2009 general election.

Moldova's Communist Party, led by former President Vladimir Voronin, campaigned against the referendum. The Communists governed from 2001-2009.

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