Moldova forced into run-off
Igor Dodon. Source: YouTube
Moldova’s presidential election will go to a run-off in November after the pro-Russian candidate narrowly failed to secure a majority of votes.
Igor Dodon won 48.5-per-cent support while his pro-European rival Maia Sandu secured 38.2 per cent of votes cast. More than 51 per cent was required to avoid a second round on November 13.
The election is being seen as a battle between those supporting closer ties with Moscow and often younger voters who look towards the EU. With turnout estimated at 48 per cent, Sandu claimed younger people had been “impeded” from voting.
“Today the young had a small turnout. I think it happened because the authorities impeded them from doing so. We will do everything to remove such obstacles in the second round,” Sandu, a former World Bank economist, said.
Prime Minister Pavel Filip, who is mired in corruption allegations, said that he hoped the run-off would “bring about both change and stability”.
The ex-Soviet republic of 3.5 million is probably the poorest European country and has been hit by recent corruption scandals. Since 1996 presidents have been chosen by parliamentarians until a law change earlier this year which returned the appointment to a popular vote.
Dodon has pledged to push for new parliamentary elections if victorious. Sandu of the centre-right opposition has been praised for reforming the education system.
A Moldovan president appoints judges and controls much of foreign policy but other major decisions need parliamentary approval.
Analysts believe an electoral mandate could give the country more influence and authority, correspondents say.
In 2014 the disappearance of about US$1 billion from the banking system sent the political class into crisis.
Street protests erupted and the International Monetary Fund and the EU froze aid to Moldova. Filip was handcuffed live on television in parliament and jailed. But many Moldovans believe other members of the pro-EU political class were involved in the scandal.
Six prime ministers took office in one year after the scandal broke.
Subsequent anti-corruption laws have forced politicians and civil servants to disclose their assets and make the misuse of EU funds a criminal offence.