Moldova’s pro-EU opposition fails to nominate single presidential candidate

Moldova’s pro-EU opposition fails to nominate single presidential candidate
Three pro-EU opposition parties were expected to unite behind either Maia Sandu (pictured) or Adrian Nastase
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest August 31, 2016

Both Dignity and Truth (DA) and the Party of Social Action (PAS) have announced plans to nominate separate candidates for Moldova’s October 30 presidential elections, despite their earlier promises to join forces along with the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) and make a single nomination. The three pro-EU parties had signed a protocol in this regard on August 8.


The disagreement among the pro-European parties will help pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon, who leads in the polls. As president, he is expected to seriously challenge the fragile ruling coalition dominated by the Democratic Party and officially coordinated by controversial oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. Capitalising on voters’ sentiment against corruption (rather than pro-Russian sentiment), Dodon could force early elections possibly starting a major political crisis. Externally, Dodon wants to moderate Moldova’s pro-EU actions and tighten ties with Russia.


The three pro-EU opposition parties were previously expected to nominate either DA leader Adrian Nastase or PAS leader Maia Sandu. 


A poll carried out by IMAS and reported by local media on August 25 showed that Sandu was the second most popular candidate after Dodon, with 8.7% of respondents expressing support for her. Nastase came third in the poll, with around 6% backing, reported.


Both trailed Moldovan Socialist Party (PSRM) leader Dodon, who was the most popular candidate among voters with 14.6% backing.


The third major partner in the apparently failed pro-EU group, the PLDM, has not announced yet own candidate. PLDM president Viorel Cibotaru told news service that he was not aware of the decisions taken by his partners. Cibotaru said that he still hoped one of the two potential candidates would withdraw in favour of the other. Should both pro-EU candidates continue their candidacies, the PLDM will decide on whom to support, Cibotaru added.


Candidates for Moldova’s presidency have between August 31 and September 4 to register their preliminary applications, but they then have to collect supporting signatures from a significant number of voters from at least half of the country’s districts as specified under the Electoral Code.


So far, Dodon, the former prime minister and European Popular Party (PPE) leader Iurie Leanca and independent candidates Valeriu Ghiletchi and Oleg Brega have said they will run for the presidency. The Democratic Party is expected to nominate its president Marian Lupu, on August 31.


The IMAS poll put Vladimir Voronin, the leader of the Communist Party (PCRM), in fourth place with 4.5% backing. He was followed by Lupu (3.1%) and Prime Minister Pavel Filip (3.1%). Leanca would be backed by 3% of Moldovans.