Pro-EU candidate Maia Sandu leads in preliminary results

Presidential candidate Maia Sandu (C) speaks to media after polling stations closed in the second round of presidential elections in Chisinau, Moldova, 15 November 2020
Maia Sandu (C) spoke to media after polling stations closed

Opposition candidate Maia Sandu holds a narrow lead over current leader Igor Dodon in Sunday’s presidential run-off election in Moldova, preliminary results say, with more than 99% of the vote counted, Ms Sandu is ahead with nearly 57.1% to President Dodon’s 42.9%.

Ms Sandu, a former World Bank economist, favours closer ties with the EU, President Dodon, meanwhile, is openly backed by Russia, according to preliminary results, Maia Sandu has scored an emphatic victory. Moldova’s former prime minister said that as president she would make it her priority to tackle corruption and unite the country, she faces huge challenges, not least dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and the economy. Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe, but this was also a vote on whether Moldova should look east or west. Maia Sandu favours closer ties with Europe. The defeat of the incumbent, Igor Dodon, is embarrassing for the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin had openly backed him in this race.

Still Moldova is a parliamentary republic. Presidents here struggle to get things done without a parliamentary majority, and that’s something Maia Sandu doesn’t have, as of Sunday evening, more than 1.6 million people almost 53% of the population with the right to vote were confirmed to have taken part in the run-off ballot, data on the central election commission website (in Romanian and Russian) show. Ms Sandu won the first round of voting two weeks ago thanks to a late surge is support from Moldovans living abroad but failed to secure enough votes for an outright victory, that number was continuing to rise as votes from abroad kept coming in, of those participants recorded so far, about 54% were women and 46% men. Polling stations closed at 21:00 local time (19:00 GMT), voters had been able to cast their ballots in more than 2,000 polling stations, including those available for Moldovans living abroad, the central election commission said.

President Igor Dodon has been in office since 2016
President Igor Dodon has been in office since 2016

After casting her vote in the capital, Chisinau, on Sunday, Ms Sandu called for “maximum vigilance” against possible fraud. She has pledged to fight corruption in the former Soviet republic, meanwhile, Mr Dodon, said he had voted for friendship with the European Union, and the Russian Federation, and Romania, and Ukraine, for balanced foreign policy.

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