On 13 November the run-off Presidential elections took place in Moldova. An openly pro-Russian socialist candidate Igor Dodon assumed presidency with 99.9% of votes counted. Dodon (Socialist Party and former economy minister in a communist 2006-2009 government) acquired 52.29% of votes against the pro-European candidate Maia Sandu (Action and Solidarity Party and former World Bank official and education minister in 2012-2015), who received 47.71%. The voters turnout was 53.3%, only 4% higher than in the first round on 30 October, while abroad it doubled. Such a result could influence the ongoing EU integration efforts of Moldova. Dodon has said during his campaign that he plans to conduct a referendum on withdrawing from the Association Agreement with the EU and joining the Eurasian Customs Union instead. Good relations with Romania and Ukraine have been claimed to be of interest to Dodon as well, even though he has said recently that Crimea is a ‘factual’ part of Russia, which caused outrage in Ukraine. Sandu, in her turn, supported the withdrawal of several thousands of Russian “peacekeeping” troops from the separatist Trans-Dniester region, which broke away in early 1990s. It was unusual that 9,000 people came to vote in Trans-Dniester this time, where they usually do not participate in Moldovan elections.
The Central Electoral Commission (CEC) official said that the final results will be announced on 15 November, when the commission receives protocols from polling stations. More than 17,000 people signed a petition demanding annulment of the run-off results and new elections due to multiple violations. Civil Platform “Honesty, dignity and Motherland” (ODIP — Onoare, Demnitate și Patrie) called for everybody who disagrees with the election results to go out for a protest on 14 November at 13:00 in the center of Chisinau.
Dodon reacted on Sunday: "We have won, everyone knows it." He advised his opponent to "urge her supporters to remain calm." "We don't need destabilization and we don't need confrontation, which somebody is trying to do," Dodon said, speaking in Russian. "We're all living in one country, in Moldova. The next president should find this balance."
Sandu called for the resignation of electoral authorities and said that the elections were chaotic: “Hundreds of people were not able to vote. Hundreds of citizens travelled a long journey, they waited in the cold and rain and were not able to vote. Moldovan authorities didn’t respect the constitutional right of Moldovan citizens to be able to vote.” Moldovans queued up for hours to vote in Paris, Milan, Dublin and Stratford, east London, where about 700 people couldn’t vote. Election authorities said they ran out of ballots in Stratford, Bucharest, Moscow, Parma and Bologna. Sandu requested the Security and Intelligence Service to investigate the disappearance of 6,000 ballots sent to two polling stations in Portugal. She added that other violations were identified, such as attempts to buy votes and abuse of administrative resources used to transport people to polls in Trans-Dniester.
The international observation mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) recognized the runoff elections to be transparent and free, despite the several shortcomings. Alexey Sergeev, secretary general of the Council of the CIS Interparliamentary Assembly, said the observers appreciated the communication with CEC and electoral bureaus. The CIS observers said the runoff vote was held in the same conditions as the first round of presidential elections, noting that CEC, between the two rounds of voting, took positive decisions, with the decision to increase the number of ballots for one polling place being the most important one.
Sources: TIME VOA DW TASS Belfast Telegraph RFERL Romania-Insider The Himalayan Times IPN
Photo: Accent TV 2015