By Sotirios Dimopoulos, political analyst
Moldova’s presidential election will go to a run-off on 13th November after a pro-Russian candidate, Leader of the Party of Socialists Igor Dodon, narrowly failed to secure a majority of votes. He gained 48.26% of the vote (678,839 votes), while his opponent, the head of the pro-European party “Action and Solidarity” Maia Sandu, has taken 38.42% (540,432 votes).
The Moldavian polls, the first direct presidential election for 20 years, as since 1996 presidents of Moldova have been chosen by parliament, are one more act in the new Cold War between West and Russia.
Moldova is a country full of internal contradictions, reflecting the ongoing dispute about its identity. The Moldovan people are divided in two groups: the first of pro-Romanian orientation and the other pro-Russian in sentiment. At the same time there exists a separated unrecognized republic, Transnistria, is which Russian army units are still present. Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, the small state of 3.5 million has struggled with a string of high-profile corruption scandals which have overshadowed the vote. The ex-Soviet republic was thrown into political turmoil in 2014 with the disappearance of about $1bn from the banking system! This scandal undermined people’s support for the ruling pro-Western coalition. There were weeks of street protests and six prime ministers took office in one year.
The country’s oligarchy controls political life through various puppet-parliamentarians, and is the force that is really in charge of country, in close collaboration with Western factors, providing geopolitical and geo-economic projects such as the EU Association Agreement and soft NATO expansionism. Some months ago, the most influential person in Moldova, the controversial oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, appeared publicly alongside Victoria Nuland in Washington.
At the same time, Moldova remains one of the poorest countries in Europe: 41% of the population live on less than $5 a day. The average monthly salary is $240, according to World Bank figures. Many Moldovans manage to make ends meet only with the help of remittances sent by relatives working abroad, which account for nearly a quarter of GDP.
The situation was getting worse for the image of pro-Western forces and EU officials have admitted that Europe has lost much of its appeal in scandal-weary Moldova. Indeed recent polls indicate that half of population want a return to USSR.
Faced with the obvious danger for its interests in the region, the American government indoctrinates the population with the idea that the “Russian danger” is alive and kicking and that Russia represents a major problem. Pro-Western political leader Maia Sandhu, is a typical representative of the neo-liberal elite, a graduate of the American University and, naturally, a supporter of European integration and entry into NATO. But the pre-election propaganda was not enough to prevent desperate and furious people from voting for such an apparently pro-Russian candidate as Dodon. The latter has openly vowed to restore cooperation with Moscow, which could provide cheap gas for Moldovan households and firms.
Now the two camps are ready for the second round. Dodon is very close to the final victory and not only because has already obtained almost 50% of votes. The third candidate, the leader of the “Our Party” Dmitry Chubashenko, which was supported by 6.1% of the population, also belonged to the Socialist Party, before the split among the left in the summer. The only thing that Dodon’s headquarters fear is a possible “euromaidan” and mass disorder organized by pro-Western forces, in which will have participation students brought by buses from Romania. Ukraine also is preparing its reaction, as Kiev brought back its ambassador from Chisinau for consultations. But if all these movements fail, then it is almost certain that Dodon wins. In this case, the foreign policy orientation of Moldova noticeable shift towards Moscow, as although country is a parliamentary republic, the president has substantial powers in the field of foreign policy, defense and security.