Moldovan referendum appears to flop on low turnout

CHISINAU, Sept 5 Sun Sep 5, 2010 4:32pm EDT

CHISINAU, Sept 5 (Reuters) - A referendum in Moldova to decide on whether to elect the president by popular vote appeared to have failed on Sunday because of a low turnout, according to figures from the Central Election Commission.

Commission secretary Iurie Ciocan told journalists that turnout stood at 29.67 percent, with final figures to come in only from a part of Moldova in the breakaway territory of Transdniestria and from Moldovans working in the West.

Commentators said these were not likely to influence the final turnout enough to bring it close to the 33.34 percent required to make the referendum valid.

The outcome was a blow for the ruling West-leaning Alliance for European Integration, which had pressed for the referendum to help to end political paralysis, and a triumph for the opposition Communists who had called for a boycott of the voting. (Writing by Richard Balmforth; editing by David Stamp)