Moldovan parliamentary elections could smooth the way towards European integration
The Moldovans appear poised to weaken Russia’s influence and push Europe’s poorest country towards greater integration with the continent in the early parliamentary elections on July 11.
Some 3.2 million people, including a large overseas diaspora, are eligible to vote for more than 20 contending parties and blocs.
But only two – the Pro-European Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) founded by President Maia Sandu and the pro-Russia Communist and Socialist Electoral Bloc (BeCS) – are considered locks to enter parliament. of 101 seats.
Each is expected to get up to 37% of the vote, according to the latest polls, although most polls have PAS in the lead, potentially with an absolute majority of 51 seats or more.
Wedged between Ukraine and EU member Romania, with whom it shares a common language, Moldova has long been divided over strengthening ties with Brussels or maintaining Soviet-era relations with Moscow.
A PAS victory would give Sandu a friendly legislature to work with as she tries to put the country on the path to European integration.
“You decide who will be in the next parliament and the next government,” the 49-year-old former World Bank official wrote on social media at the end of the campaign period. “It’s up to you to decide how quickly we can save the country from corruption and poverty.”
A victory for BeCS and other parties and blocs friendly to Moscow would maintain close ties with Russia, favored by former President Igor Dodon, whose Socialist colleagues in parliament thwarted Sandu’s reform program.
“Only our team is capable of ending the chaos in the country, providing social protection for people, restoring the economy and strengthening the state,” Dodon said this week.
The snap elections are the result of a long political battle following Sandu’s victory over Dodon in the country’s November presidential election.
This vote was also seen as a referendum on the future of Moldova, but the Socialist-controlled legislature continued to exert its influence, including strengthening the body’s power by voting to transfer control of the agencies of information from the president to parliament.
The move was greeted in December by mass protests calling for early elections, followed later in the month by the resignation of the country’s pro-Russian prime minister and his cabinet just before Sandu’s inauguration.
After Sandu’s attempts to replace the prime minister were exhausted, parliament was dissolved in April and early elections were called.
The run-up to the vote was plagued by conflict over the number of polling stations both overseas and in the breakaway Russian-backed region of Transnistria.
After extensive travel back and forth, the number of polling stations in Transnistria, where voters traditionally maintain closer ties with Moscow, has been set at 41.
Moldovans living abroad, who are expected to be mainly in the Sandu camp, will be able to vote at 150 polling stations abroad, including 12 in neighboring EU-member Romania.
The vote will be held with restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with voters required to wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Besides the PAS and the BeCS, the Eurosceptic SOR and the pro-European Dignity and Truth Platform party are considered candidates to cross the necessary threshold to enter parliament.
The new parliament will sit on August 27, the 30th anniversary of Moldova’s declaration of independence from the Soviet Union.