Pro-European Party Poised to Win Moldova’s Elections

President’s party leading ahead of a vote that could alter the country’s political course.

Pro-European Party Poised to Win Moldova’s Elections

President’s party leading ahead of a vote that could alter the country’s political course.

Moldovan President Maia Sandu at an address calling for Moldovans to come together for the future of their country.
Moldovan President Maia Sandu at an address calling for Moldovans to come together for the future of their country. © Official Website of the President of Moldova

As Moldova goes to the polls for a second time in a year, the pro-European Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) looks set for victory.

Its former leader Maia Sandu achieved a resounding win in the November 2020 presidential elections, and the movement is counting on its anti-corruption agenda – and mobilising diaspora support - to repeat this success on July 11.

A July 1 poll by CBS-Research, a local affiliate of the European Endowment for Democracy, showed PAS winning 35 per cent of the vote.

Its main rival, the pro-Russian Electoral Bloc of Communists and Socialists (BeCS) led by former presidents Vladimir Voronin and Igor Dodon, looked set to win 21 per cent of votes.

PAS has promised to pursue a European, democratic path, with its electoral programme centred on anti-corruption and liberal socio-economic policies. They vow to confiscate the assets of corrupt officials and dignitaries and institute in-depth judicial reforms.

“By 2025, we aim to increase the average salary to 15,000 lei per month [835 US dollars]. Currently, it is 8,700 lei [480 dollars], and we aim almost to double it. This is a nominal increase, and if things go well, the average salary could increase even more,” PAS deputy Radu Marian said. 

PAS says it will invest 100 million euros in rural development, deepen relations with the EU and attract investment from the West.

The diaspora is again expected to play a significant role in this election, with nearly a million Moldovans living abroad, half in Western countries. On June 22, Moldova’s supreme court ordered the CEC to increase the number of polling stations abroad from 139 to 191.

PAS, which relies on this sector’s votes, has offered it numerous incentives.  

“We want to implement zero taxes for those who repatriate the gain obtained abroad,” Marian continued. “Thus, for example, Moldovans who have worked abroad for many years can repatriate their cars and personal belongings without paying additional taxes.”

Political expert Mihai Isac said that financial and economic support from external partners will only materialise if politicians deliver on promises of reform.

“In the absence of real judiciary reforms and the fight against corruption, Moldova risks being left outside the large investors’ radar,” he said. “It remains to be seen how much the EU, the US and other foreign partners will tolerate the reluctance of the Chisinau political class to take some real action against widespread corruption.” 

For its part, BeCS is focused on a Russian model of development combined with strong ties with CIS states.  Its campaign is based around increased industrialisation of the economy alongside regional and agricultural development, with improved social support, healthcare and culture.

It also draws heavily on rhetoric aimed at the malign influence of the EU, NATO and neighboring Romania, which in their belief is working to reunite with Moldova. 

“Moldova is at a crossroads,” Voronin said at the launch of their electoral platform on June 8. “Either we keep the country's sovereignty and independence, or Moldova can disappear from the world map, now everything depends on every citizen,” he continued, urging citizens to “make the right choice and not believe in fairy tales”.

At the same event, candidate Vladimir Odnostalco presented BeCS's priorities in the medical field.

“Our slogan is medicine for everyone. Therefore, we propose to further increase the salaries of medical workers - initially by at least 40 per cent,” he said.

Angela Gramada, director of the Experts for Security and Global Affairs Association, said that most parties were still trying to manipulate voters through typical fear tactics.

“They could have explained to the public how specific goals are to be achieved,’ she said. “But, in general, most election programmes challenge the intelligence of a well-read voter who can distinguish between what is proposed to him and what he needs. It won't be a struggle over ideas and vision. The messages are the same, exploring the fears of the voter, who, although he is more informed and attentive in recent years, remains sensitive to messages he cannot verify.”

In total, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) approved 23 contestants in the race scheduled for 101 parliamentary seats. 

The future of other political forces is less certain as they are not all expected to clear the five per cent threshold needed to enter parliament.

Those likely to win enough support are two pro-Russian parties - Our Party and Ilan Shor Party - and two pro-European blocs, the Dignity and Truth Platform (PPDA) and the Alliance for Romanian Unity (AUR). 

When it comes to the other contenders, only The Dignity and Truth Platform Party has an extensive electoral programme, while Our Party and Ilan Shor have stuck to populist themes related to the economy and eradicating poverty. 

The other two parties - PUN and AUR – vow that reunification with Romania is the only solution for future developments.

This publication was prepared under the "Amplify, Verify, Engage (AVE) Project" implemented with the financial support of the Foreign Ministry of Norway.

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