Moldovan president’s pro-West party wins local elections, loses in big cities

Moldovan president’s pro-West party wins local elections, loses in big cities

The Moldovan president’s pro-European party emerged as the winner in numerous local elections, although it failed to secure mayoral seats in major cities during a weekend vote. Observers noted that the election was marred by foreign interference and the exclusion of a pro-Russian party. The elections, which took place on Sunday, were seen as a test of President Maia Sandu’s pro-European agenda and were overshadowed by allegations of Russian meddling, which Moscow denies. Sandu’s ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) garnered over 40% of the votes for mayors, city councillors, and district and village councils.

According to a preliminary report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the campaign was marred by an “influx of illicit and foreign funds and the monetary incentives used to influence voters’ choice.” In the lead-up to the vote, Moldovan authorities accused Russia of funneling $5 million to “criminal groups” led by fugitive businessman Ilan Shor, who was convicted in absentia for involvement in bank fraud in Moldova.

Just two days before the election, the Chance party, linked to Shor, was barred from participating on security grounds. The OSCE criticized this decision, stating that it “limited voters’ choice and resulted in uncontested races in some smaller localities.” The OSCE also highlighted that the blanket exclusion of candidates without the possibility of legal remedy goes against its commitments and international standards.

Despite the alleged interference by a foreign state, the ruling party’s performance was praised by the speaker of Moldova’s parliament, Igor Grosu. He stated that the Kremlin had attempted to interfere in the election but the PAS and pro-European candidates still achieved the best result in the country.

While Sandu’s party won mayoral seats in 244 out of 898 villages, towns, and cities in the first round of voting, these victories were primarily in rural areas. The party’s candidates were unable to secure control of major cities, including the capital, Chisinau. Incumbent mayor Ion Ceban narrowly avoided a run-off and claimed victory with 50.62% of the vote. In other cities, the mayoral race in Balti will proceed to a second round, an independent candidate won in Cahul, and an independent candidate linked to Shor emerged as the winner in Orhei.

Infrastructure Minister Andrei Spinu, who is also the vice chairman of PAS, emphasized that the main takeaway from the election was the confident victory of Moldova’s pro-European choice across the entire country. This election is Moldova’s final national vote before the presidential election scheduled for November 2024, as the country aims to join the European Union and distance itself from Russia.

President Sandu has been vocal in denouncing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has accused Moscow of plotting to overthrow her in a coup.

About News Team

Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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