Pro-Russian Socialist leader Igor Dodon could not enjoy the presidential win in the elections in the Republic of Moldova after street protests
Pro-Russian Socialist leader Igor Dodon could not enjoy the presidential win in the elections in the Republic of Moldova after street protests and motions filed in Court by civil society and the defeated candidate, Maia Sandu, claiming the elections were rigged. The 41 year-old economist came up in politics in the shadow of former communist leader Vladimir Voronin. He went on to found his own socialist party, and now won the presidential seat in the first direct popular vote in Moldova in 20 years. During that period, the president was appointed by Parliament. The OSCE, which monitored the campaign and the voting, pointed out that the financing of the election campaign was not transparent, and that many voters could not exercise their right for lack of ballots.
Domestic observers also said that voters living abroad were disenfranchised, as well as that voters from the pro-Russian separatist region of Transdniester, all Dodon sympathizers, were bused by the dozen to the polls. In terms of foreign policy, the new head of state wants to bring Moldova into the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan union, promised his first visit would be to Moscow, and wants to hold a referendum to cancel the association and free trade agreement with the European Union.
In Bucharest, professor Iulian Chifu, head of the Center for Conflict Prevention and Early Warning, spoke to Radio Romania about the issue: “We are talking about a different reality when it comes to the Republic of Moldova. This was a rift state to begin with, and Igor Dodon's election is not the best news for Bucharest, considering his past, his election rhetoric, and his electoral platform. However, we are talking about good neighborhood, a neighboring state, as well as a government and parliament that continue to be pro-European, even if President Dodon wants early elections and wants to take over power completely. We should ponder over the next period how the policies of these two states lie, but again, as long as there is continuity for the big actors, there is little probability to see things that powerful.”
Experts quoted by Radio Romania correspondents in Chisinau warn that Dodon's election could muddy the waters in terms of the republic's foreign policy, making it impossible for him to keep his election promises, since financial aid comes from the west, from institutions like the IMF and WB, as well as from Romania. This has not prevented Dodon from using a virulent anti-Romanian rhetoric. He threatened to make illegal organizations that militate for uniting with Romania, withdrawing citizenship from certain Romanian nationals, and even changing the national flag, which is virtually identical with the Romanian one.
Here is political commentator Octavian Tîcu in Chisinau: “His Moldavian discourse will not be accepted in Bucharest. I rather believe it is a trap for the Party of Socialists and Igor Dodon, since it will be impossible for them to keep their election promises, which will start be their downfall, just like the Party of Communists.”
Romanian President Klaus Iohannis simply announced in a press release that he noted the choice expressed by Moldovan citizens with their vote. He pleads for domestic stability, further reforms, and working to join Europe. The Romanian government hopes that the institutions in the Republic of Moldova would work towards this goal of joining Europe. None of the two press releases mentions Dodon's name. Iohannis simply used the phrase 'the new president of the Republic of Moldova', saying about him that he will have to show wisdom and balance during his term.
Professor Chifu warns over the thirst for power shown by the ex-communist socialists led by the new head of state: “For the time being, Dodon's power, strictly as a president, is obviously limited by the Constitution, but we should not forget a very important thing. Igor Dodon's party continues to be the largest party in the Republic of Moldova, the largest opposition party, which at this time gained a certain impulse for growth due to winning the presidential elections. Igor Dodon's real power lies in that, he is a Vladimir Voronin with a large party which does not yet have access to power, and it is in his interest, as a politician, with a politician's instincts, to take over power completely in the Republic of Moldova”.
Other commentators pointed out sarcastically that any able politician would rather share power, and therefore responsibility, in a state such as the Republic of Moldova, ranked as the poorest in Europe.