Moldovans stayed away from the polls in a referendum on whether the voters should elect their president directly. The low turnout has dashed hopes of a resolution to the political deadlock in the country.
The government wants a directly elected president
The Moldovan government's hopes of breaking the country's political deadlock with legislation to directly elect a president have been dealt a terminal blow.
Low voter turnout in a referendum on the matter means that the government could not obtain a mandate for the change to be enacted.
Just over 29 percent of the electorate voted in the poll. The figure falls short of the 33 percent required for it to be binding, according to Central Election Commission head Yuri Cocan.
Voters last year put a pro-western coalition in power
Dissolution of parliament
The referendum's failure was expected to lead to the dissolution of the parliament and snap elections.
Moldova, a former Soviet nation sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, currently has no president. The country's liberal and pro-Western coalition government has been unable to obtain the necessary three-fifths majority in parliament to elect one.
The Communist Party, which held power from 2001 until last year and has a large minority in parliament, claims that the vote is a coalition plot to seize power. It called for a boycott of the referendum.
Recent opinion polls showed that 75 to 90 percent of those who were planning to vote were in favor of direct presidential elections.
Author: Richard Connor, Nicole Goebel (AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Chuck Penfold