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30/09/2016

Pro-EU candidate wins Chisinau election

Europe's East

Pro-EU candidate wins Chisinau election

The incumbent pro-European Union mayor of the capital of Moldova won the runoff vote against a pro-Russian opponent on Sunday (28 June), securing a third term in office, the country’s electoral commission said Monday.

The results of the election were split in 53.54% for Dorin Chirtoaca of the Liberal Party of Moldova, and 46.46% for Russian-born Zinaida Greceanii, from the Party of Socialists.

The vote went to a runoff when neither candidate secured over 50% of support on 14 June, during first round of voting in the city of around 500,000.

>>Read: Chisinau mayoral race pits pro-EU against pro-Russia candidates

“This is a very important victory that means the continuation of pro-European reforms in Chisinau and moving Moldova along the path of European integration,” Chirtoaca said.

Pro-Russian candidates still secured seats in several key towns in the country, which borders Ukraine and Romania, and has Russian troops stationed in a breakaway region of Transnistria.

Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, last year signed an Association Agreement taking it closer to European Union membership, despite opposition from its former Soviet master, Russia, and from its pro-Russian politicians, including the Communists.

Disagreement over a similar pact sparked the current crisis in neighbouring Ukraine, which has seen Russia accused of fuelling a bloody separatist conflict in the east of the ex-Soviet country.

Background

Moldova is a former Soviet republic, and was part of Romania before being annexed by the Soviet Union in World War II. It is landlocked between Romania and Ukraine. Moldovans speak Romanian, although the country's constitution calls it the 'Moldovan language'. Russian is also widely spoken.

Moldova has signed its EU Association Agreement on 27 June 2014 and has ratified it only five days later. Russia doesn't approve this pro-EU move and tries to keep Moldova in its orbit.

>> Read: Moldova sets record in ratifying EU association agreement

Transnistria, a Moldovan region east of the Dniester River, has been considered a 'frozen conflict' area since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. It has ethnic Russian and Ukrainian populations. Although internationally Transnistria is part of Moldova, de facto its authorities do not exercise any power there.