Pro-EU Reformer wins Moldovan Presidential Election

A pro-European reformer has won the presidency of Moldova — defeating her Moscow-backed opponent in a second-round vote that centered around the economy, corruption, and what course the small, one-time Soviet republic would choose in the tug and pull between Russia and the West.With all the Incumbent Moldovan President Igor Dodon speaks to media in Chisinau, Moldova, Nov. 16, 2020.Her opponent, the incumbent President Igor Dodon, earned the support of 42% of voters despite support from Moscow and a scorched earth Moldova’s presidential candidate Maia Sandu, poses for a selfie photo with her supporters as she leaves the Action and Solidarity Party office in Chisinau, Nov. 16, 2020.East vs West dimensions?The Moldovan election appeared to be the latest challenge to Russia’s continued influence over former Soviet republics it once ruled.Russian President Vladimir Putin has openly backed Dodon and had called on Moldovans to support his bid for another term. Russian political advisers arrived from Moscow to help manage the campaign.Indeed, Dodon has been a loyal Kremlin ally in return, calling for good relations, attending key Kremlin events, and sitting out calls to sanction Russia over its seizure and annexation of Crimea from neighboring Ukraine.Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video conference in Moscow, Nov. 5, 2020.“This certainly serves the vital interests of the Russian and the Moldovan people,” he added. In addressing the course of her future foreign policy on Monday, Sandu said she would seek a “true balance” by pursuing “pragmatic dialogue with all countries” including Europe, Russia and the United States.Sandu supporters argue the incoming president was simply sticking with a pragmatic approach to foreign policy that had served her well in the past.”Maia does come from this chain of pro-European politicians in Moldova,” says the European Council on Foreign Relations’ Nicu Popescu, who served as foreign minister under Sandu when she was prime minister for a period in 2019.“But she’s also someone who sees pro-Europeanism as not built through hostile relations with Russia,” he told VOA.“Much of the Moldovan population wants this approach,” he added. 

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