- Title: Moldova readies for second round of presidential election
- Date: 11th November 2016
- Summary: CHISINAU, MOLDOVA (NOVEMBER 11, 2016) (REUTERS) ELECTION BANNER ABOVE ROAD CLOSE OF ELECTION BANNER FOR LEADER OF THE SOCIALIST PARTY OF THE REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA (PSRM), IGOR DODON
- Embargoed: 26th November 2016 16:23
- Keywords: Moldova election second round presidential election Sandu Dodon
- Location: CHISINAU, MOLDOVA
- City: CHISINAU, MOLDOVA
- Country: Moldova
- Reuters ID: LVA0015802A87
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Moldovans go the polls on Sunday (November 13) in a run-off to their presidential election that could propel a pro-Russian Socialist candidate to power.
Igor Dodon, who wants to reverse Moldova's course toward European integration, is leading over his main pro-European challenger, Maia Sandu.
The small former Soviet republic, squeezed between the European Union and Ukraine, plunged into turmoil following a $1 billion corruption scandal that erupted in late 2014.
It has gone through five prime ministers in three years and support for a pro-Western political class in power since 2009 fell away, making Dodon the likely winner in the weekend run-off.
But the economy has also returned to growth after a 0.5 percent decline in 2015, inflation has eased, unrest has died down and the IMF, which had halted aid over the scandal, agreed to a new $179 million package for Moldova on Monday (November 7).
Political analyst Victor Ciobanu says Dodon will fail to carry through his promise to call a referendum to extricate Moldova from a political and trade agreement signed with the EU in 2014 and join a Eurasian Customs Union dominated by Moscow, which would turn the clock back on years of closer ties with the West.
"Even if Dodon wins these elections, there will be no joining the Eurasian Union, it is impossible, especially considering that Ukraine lies between us and Russia. This is a myth which is being sold to voters, who will end up being cheated," said Ciobanu.
"On the other hand, the candidate Maia Sandu managed to avoid this false paradigm of geopolitical positioning. Her rhetoric focused on changing a corrupt, inefficient system, which does not work to the benefit of its citizens, but in the interests of a small group which is in power," he added.
Former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, one of five to hold that office in three years, was implicated in the corruption scandal, handcuffed live on TV in parliament and later jailed. But many Moldovans believe other members of the pro-EU elite were complicit in the scam.
Sandu, a former World Bank economist and education minister, has campaigned with the promise to tackle corruption in Europe's poorest nation, where the average monthly family income is below $300.
The public, which has seen seven years of leadership under pro-EU authorities that they perceive as corrupt, appear split between a candidate that promises to clean up government and stay on the EU path and a pro-Russian that vows to boost an economy that relies heavily on energy supplies from Russia, risking Moldova falling back into Moscow's orbit.
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