* Mayoral Campaigns in Moldova’s Two Largest Cities: A Preview of Next Parliamentary Election
Yet, the front-runner is a Socialist member of the City Council and presidential spokesperson Ion Ceban. He can count on the Russian speaking minorities and the older generation nostalgic for the Soviet past.
Having almost no competition on the left, the Socialist candidate would win if the election was decided in a single round, as is the case with single-member parliamentary districts, under the controversial new electoral law. Yet, the left has a long history of defeat in Chisinau, and Ceban is likely to lose in the second round either to Silvia Radu or the unified pro-European opposition candidate Andrei Nastase.
With a high voter turnout, Nastase would be well positioned to enter the runoffs. Nastase enjoys the support of all three Moldovan political factions belonging to the European People’s Party (a pan-European umbrella grouping, drawing together the continent’s Christian Democrat and center-right political parties). Apart from Nastase’s own Dignity and Truth Platform Party (PPDA), he is also backed by the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) and the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), the most popular political party in the capital region.
PAS leader Maia Sandu is vocally campaigning for Nastase, who backed Sandu in the 2016 presidential race. This unity of the pro–European Union center-right parties presents a challenge to Plahotniuc. Akin to Sandu’s 2016 experience, Nastase is being targeted by a massive disinformation campaign, ironically with the same plot of having invited large numbers of Arabs to Moldova. Not just local but also US and European watchdogs have identified it as a deliberate disinformation campaign (DFRLab, May 13; Euvsdisinfo.eu, May 15); but the damage is done.
This avalanche of disinformation spells serious trouble for the pro-EU opposition in the year-end parliamentary elections, which, coupled with questions about the integrity of voters’ lists and rampant use of administrative resources, may cast a shadow over the fairness of the election results, particularly under the controversial new electoral system (see EDM, January 10; Promo-Lex, April 19).
The European Union recalled, during the recent Moldova Association Council meeting, “that transparent, inclusive and credible elections at central and local level are of key importance” (Consilium.europa.eu, May 3). The ruling party responded by setting up a legislative working group to address these concerns. Yet, just as the Democratic Party, together with the Party of Socialists, changed the electoral system to their advantage despite vocal criticism from Brussels, if the mayoral campaign is any indication, the parliamentary elections will be fought tooth and nail with little regard for democratic principles and European values.
Voters in Moldova’s capital are heading to the polls on June 3 for the second round of a snap mayoral election that is seen as a test for the country’s political parties ahead of parliamentary polls later this year.
The candidate of the Moscow-friendly Socialist Party, Ion Ceban, and Andrei Nastase from the pro-European party Dignity and Truth Platform (DA) are facing off in Chisinau.
Ceban won the first round on May 20 with nearly 41 percent of vote, while Nastase obtained just over 32 percent, election authorities said.
The turnout was 35.5 percent.
Early mayoral elections were also held in Moldova’s second-largest city, Balti, where Nicolai Grigorisin, the candidate of the pro-Russia Our Party, won in the first round with 61 percent of the vote.
The snap elections to elect the mayors of Chisinau and Balti for one year were called after the mayor of Chisinau, Dorin Chirtoaca, from the pro-European Liberal Party, and Balti Mayor Renato Usatii, the Our Party founder and leader, resigned to protest against criminal cases against them, which they say are politically motivated.
The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: moldovanpolitics.com