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Are Moldova's Communists actually communist?

Gathering over 50 percent of the vote, Moldova's Communist Party (PCRM) won a landslide victory in the parliamentary elections on Sunday. Interestingly, until this election Moldova was the only state in Europe where clinging to the Communist brand remained politically expedient. In fact, since Moldova declared independence in 1990 the PCRM has never relinquished power. However, today's violent protests have shown that over the last decade a socio-political chasm between young and urban voters and the elderly and rural has split Moldovan society.

It's important to note that the PCRM's platform, based on such Marxist notions as encouraging entrepreneurship, attracting foreign direct investment, and protecting human rights, isn't really all that Communist. Unlike other nominally Communist parties, the PCRM doesn't even pay lip service to Communist principles and openly advocates seeking closer socio-economic relations with Europe. Their key difference with the Liberals is that the Communists are wary of reunification with Romania, a country with which Moldova shares historical and linguistic ties

The wide margin of victory provides the PCRM with a clear mandate to pursue its proposed policy of closer integration with Europe, but as Moldova expert Elizabeth Anderson pointed out, its many years in power has left the Communist Party over-institutionalized and corrupt. The next Moldovan president will have to tread lightly, institute reforms within his own party, and try to build coalitions with the minority parties in parliament. Otherwise, Moldova risks falling into the same kind of vicious cycle that neighboring Ukraine has experienced since the Orange revolution in 2004.

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Congressional delegation meets Raul Castro as Fidel calls for more dialogue

The six-person U.S. congressional delegation visiting Cuba yesterday reported a productive first session of discussions on how to normalize the two countries' relations. That will be a long, long road, but the momentum is growing. Restrictions on travel and remittances are rumored to be on the policy chopping block soon. The delegation from the Congressional Black Caucus was not sent from President Obama -- though carrying the self stated goal to "listen and talk" -- they became the first lawmakers to speak with Cuban officials since the president took office. 

Though it was Raul that the lawmakers were speaking to, the response to Comrade-blogger-brother Fidel was more anxiously awaited. Here are some interesting snippets (AP and my translations):

Praising Richard Lugar's call to amend U.S.-Cuba policy: 

those capable of serenely analyzing the events, as is the case of the senator from Indiana, use an irrefutable argument: The measures of the United States against Cuba, over almost half a century, are a total failure."

Calling for dialogue with the U.S.:

There is no need to emphasize what Cuba has always said: We do not fear dialogue with the United States. Nor do we need confrontation to exist, as some foolish people think. We exist precisely because we believe in our ideas and we have never feared dialogue with the adversary. That [discussion] is the only way to build friendships among people."

But remaining staunch on the Cuban revolution:

The Cuban revolution, which the embargo and the dirty war were not able to destroy, is based upon ethical and political principles; it is for this reason that it has been able to resist [attempts to destroy it]."

As I said, it's a long -- if increasingly well-lit -- road ahead.