First returns to Moldova herald victory for pro-EU reformers
CHISINAU (AP) – A pro-reform party seeking to tighten Moldova’s ties with the European Union appeared to be heading for a clear majority in Sunday’s early parliamentary elections, early results show.
The election was called by President Maia Sandu, who sought to secure a parliament made up of pro-EU reformists in the former Soviet republic.
The participation rate in this country of 3.5 million people – the poorest country in Europe, landlocked between Ukraine and Romania – was just over 48%.
Sandu, a former prime minister who led the Pro-Reform Action and Solidarity Party, or PAS, pledged to clean up corruption, fight poverty and strengthen relations with the EU.
“I hope today will be the end of a difficult era for Moldova,” Sandu, a former World Bank official, wrote online after the polls closed. “I hope today will be the end of the thieves’ reign over Moldova … People should soon feel the benefits of a clean parliament and a government that really takes care of population issues.”
Moldova signed an agreement in 2014 with the EU to forge closer ties, but high levels of corruption and lack of reforms have hampered the development of the country, which ranked 115th out of 180 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index 2020.
In last year’s presidential election, Sandu defeated Igor Dodon, the current leader of the socialists, who campaigned on high social spending, traditional family values ââand a distrust of closer ties. with the West.
Dodon said Sunday’s vote could decide “whether there will be peace and order in the country or permanent conflict and chaos.”
Dionis Cenusa, an analyst at the Chisinau-based think tank expert group, told The Associated Press that a parliamentary majority for the PAS would mean that “critical anti-corruption efforts can be implemented without resistance from parliament or the executive “.
“It will also mean that dialogue with the EU and other Western partners will increase their support for internal reforms in the country,” he said.
Voters chose from more than 20 parties, but early results suggest only three of them got enough support to enter the country’s 101-seat legislature. Votes for parties that do not meet the parliamentary threshold will be distributed among the parties that do.
The elections were called in April by Sandu after the country’s Constitutional Court abolished the state of emergency that was introduced to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
For Ilinca Mazureac, a third year biology student at Harvard University, a PAS victory would mean “hope after so many disappointments in the previous elections.”
“With a clear pro-European majority in parliament and a very capable president, I am very optimistic about the future of my country,” she told AP. âI hope that the new majority will start by tackling corruption in the justice system so that people can finally regain confidence in the authorities. “
Vadim Pistrinciuc, executive director of the Chisinau-based Institute for Strategic Initiatives and former lawmaker, told AP that a PAS victory would “immediately mean a much better relationship with the EU”.
Radu Magdin, analyst at Smartlink Communications, said that “with great power and great expectation comes great responsibility.”
“The PAS obtained, in the year Moldova turns 30 (since its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991), the highest score ever recorded for a pro-EU party,” he said. .
âSwift and decisive action in the areas of health, economy and justice is essential. “
Corneliu Rusnac and Stephen Mcgrath, Associated Press