Gagauzia: growing separatism in Moldova?

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Series Details No.129 (10.03.14)
Publication Date March 2014
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On 2 February, the regional authorities in Gagauzia - an autonomous region of the Republic of Moldova - carried out two simultaneous referenda. In the first, local residents were asked to declare their support for the country’s integration either with the EU or with the Moscow-led Customs Union (CU); the second referendum sought their opinion on the draft law “On the deferred status of the Autonomous Region of Gagauzia”.

Under the proposed legislation, if Moldova were to lose its sovereignty (for example, through the unification of Moldova and Romania, or even as some politicians have argued, through Moldova’s further integration with the EU), the autonomous region would automatically become the independent Republic of Gagauzia.

As expected, the outcome of the vote has shown overwhelming support for both the CU and for the draft law. According to the figures released by Gagauzia’s Central Electoral Commission, 98.5% of the voters supported Moldova’s integration with the Customs Union, while 98% voted in favour of the ‘deferred independence’ bill. Support for closer integration with the EU was marginal, reaching just over 2%.

Despite the one-sided outcome of the referendum, there is no reliable evidence to suggest that the ballot was rigged. It should also be noted that voter turnout was very high, reaching about 70%. Representatives of the Moldovan Central Electoral Commission, however, believe that the figure may have been artificially inflated by excluding many of the voters currently residing abroad from the count.

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