The Moldovan diaspora is hoping with all its heart that this month’s election will put an end to "the tragic era of Vladimir Voronin" [the Moldovan President from 2001 to 2009 for whom a successor will be designated by the parliament elected on 28 November]. This view is also shared by Moldovans who were forced to emigrate during the reign of Lucinschi [Moldovan President from 1997 to 2001], whose term in office was marked by inhuman conditions and deaths from starvation.

It is no exaggeration to say that at the end of the 1990s, when the government was unable to pay salaries or pensions and when the country had descended into spiral of poverty, many Moldovans were simply forced into exile.

The exiles from the time of Lucinschi left with the hope of being able to return to their country within two or three years, once the government had changed. But then came the reign of Voronin, who added to migrants’ bitter perception of the Moldovan communist party as a machine which creates conditions that drive people from the country and prevents exiles from returning home.

The land of swindlers

Money sent by emigrants continues to be a major source of revenue in Republic of Moldova. In 2008, funds sent by nationals abroad amounted to 36.2% of national GDP. In 2009, the exiles of the Moldovan diaspora officially sent close to one billion euros via banks, and half a billion in transfers has already been reported for the first eight months of this year. And let’s not forget the millions sent by other channels. But at the same time, this influx of cash has allowed the communist party to deceive the electorate and pretend that it is keeping the state on an even keel.

In encouraging the exodus, the communists have taken advantage of the depletion of the active population, because the aging voters that remain in the country are weak, and easily manipulated with modest vote-winning gestures like slight increases to pensions, which do little to compensate for soaring prices.

Many of the exiles have now succeeded in obtaining official status in European countries, where they are well integrated and where, in some cases, they have been able to bring over their families. But while they continue to send money back to Moldova, their contribution to the country is rarely acknowledged. Traveling home to a country under the rule of Voronin, even for a brief visit, felt like returning to "the land of swindlers." They were asked to pay bribes even before they passed customs, and thereafter in any state institutions that they had the misfortune to visit...

... becomes a land of pensioners?

So that is why Moldovan migrants hate the communists. In the wake of last year’s change of government, the flow of exiles has diminished. At the same time, official statistics have reported a significant reduction in people trafficking, which fell by 14.3% in 2009 over 2008, while the trafficking of children was down by 16%. There has even been a drop in the number of bribe requests, although the phenomenon is still cause for concern. Some migrants do not have a great deal of confidence in the Alliance for European Integration (AEI), the coalition in power since 2009, but they are conscious of the fact that they do not have many choices...

Many of them simply want an opportunity to return home, but only if they can live there with dignity. And in financial terms, that means conditions where they can hope to earn half of what they currently take home Europe.

With their bags packed, they are now waiting for the outcome of the 28 November vote. If it proves to be a victory for the communists, the overwhelming likelihood is that Moldova will become "a land of pensioners." If the democrats succeed in holding onto power and things do not change, we will only see a temporary suspension in the exodus from the country. Thereafter, once all of the doctors have left, the elderly will not last long. And then one wonders what will remain of Moldova?