Pro-Russia candidate narrowly misses first round victory in Moldova election

Moscow-friendly president Igor Dodon. [Crime Moldova]

Moldova’s presidential election will go to a second round, preliminary results showed early today (31 October), after a pro-Russian socialist candidate fell short of winning sufficient support to achieve an all-out victory.

With 99.5% of votes counted, preliminary results showed candidate Igor Dodon, who wants to reverse Moldova’s course toward European integration, had won 48.5%, and his main pro-European challenger, Maia Sandu, had 38.2%.

Dodon needed to win 51% of votes to avoid a run-off on 13 November.

“I hope that the results of today’s vote and of the 13 November run-off will bring about both change and stability: change by the election by popular vote of a pro-European president; stability in the functioning of a reform-driven triangle – president, government, parliament,” Prime Minister Pavel Filip said in a statement.

“Nothing would be more wrong than to engage in a war after the electoral battle”, Filip said further.

“Reforms and progress require peace and stability. All those who are pro-Europeans in their hearts and minds have to find the wisdom to work together, to change what can the changed and to accept that things  are better when the power in divided among European-minded politicians.

“As PM of Moldova, I am ready for a partnership based on results and reforms with the new President”, Filip said.

The Central Election Commission will announce the final results of the first round within the next five days.

The ex-Soviet republic of 3.5 million, squeezed between Ukraine and European Union member Romania, plunged into turmoil in 2015 after the disclosure that $1 billion had disappeared from the banking system.

Moldova banking scandal fuels biggest protest ever

Tens of thousands of Moldovans rallied yesterday (6 September) in the heart of the capital Chisinau in the biggest street protests in memory, demanding the resignation of the president and early elections over a $1 billion bank fraud that has hit living standards.

Street protests erupted and the International Monetary Fund and the European Union froze aid to Moldova.

Former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, one of five to hold that office in three years, was implicated, handcuffed live on TV in parliament and later jailed. But many Moldovans believe other members of the pro-EU elite were complicit in the scam.

Wiretaps incriminate Moldovan pro-EU leader

Phone conversations posted online on Tuesday (20 October) are said to show former Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat asking for bribes from a local businessman, who has been accused, along with Filat, of involvement in the theft of $1 billion from three banks.

“More than ever Moldova needs a president who represents all and doesn’t divide citizens of the country into supporters and opponents of integration in the European Union,” said Alexandra Sveichina, a 64-year-old pensioner. “The new president should reject geopolitics completely and focus on improving the lives of simple people.”

Sandu, a former World Bank economist and education minister, has warned against allowing the country, which relies heavily on energy supplies from Russia, to fall back into Moscow’s orbit.

If he wins, Dodon wants to call a referendum to extricate Moldova from a political and trade agreement signed with the EU in 2014 and join a Eurasian Customs Union dominated by Moscow, turning back the clock on years of closer ties with the West.

That would help strengthen Russia’s influence over Eastern European states, including Moldova, Georgia, Bulgaria and Ukraine.

Moldova’s foreign minister: We have been dubbed a ‘last chance government’

The new government has a clear road map of what it has to do, developed together with its EU partners, Andrei Galbur, Deputy Prime-Minister, and Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration, told in an exclusive interview.

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