Moldova’s President Igor Dodon announced his broadly expected candidacy for another term on September 9, “on behalf of the people” and with a strong message: he pledged to dissolve the parliament in his first move after the elections.
Pro-EU candidate Maia Sandu previously announced her candidacy. Among other relevant candidates, another prominent pro-EU politican, Andrei Nastase, and former parliament speaker Andrian Candu will also run.
Dodon estimates that he will win against Sandu by a margin of 7-10%, nearly double the margin in the previous elections he won against Sandu in 2016.
By running “for the people”, Dodon visibly aims to broaden his electoral base, by capturing some of the supporters of the Democratic Party (PDM) which, with former leader Vlad Plahotniuc self-exiled, decided not to take part in the presidential elections this time. In fact, this electorate left orphaned after Plahotniuc abandoned his party will be the main target for candidates in the November 1 presidential elections in Moldova.
At the beginning of his campaign, Dodon stressed that the president of Moldova, in his opinion (there’s no legal restriction), should not be a citizen of another country. To make the statement more neutral, Dodon added: “from the west or from the east”. But the hint was clear: Sandu holds Romanian citizenship. On a more transparent note, Socialist MPs accused Sandu of being a supporter of globalism, LGBT and billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a hate figure among certian sections of society in East European countries.
As president, Dodon is not allowed to be a member of his Socialist Party — but this is only one of the reasons for the president to register as an independent candidate. There is no law forbidding him, as an independent, to run on behalf of a political party after all.
The same day Dodon eventually decided to run for another term, the PDM now led by former prime minister Pavel Filip decided not to appoint a presidential candidate. The Pro Moldova dissident faction that split from the PDM recently appointed Candu as its presidential candidate. But given his closer ties with Plahotniuc (compared to Filip), Candu is more likely to get support from the core of the former Democratic Party electorate — leaving the more moderate part free to be wooed by both Dodon and Sandu.
And indeed, Sandu has admitted that she already held meetings with the regional representatives of the Democratic Party.
“We have already met with as many supporters of the [Democratic Party] as we have met with supporters of [Sandu’s Party of Action and Solidarity] PAS and other political parties. And I have not met any Democrat voter who wants Dodon to stay in power. If the Democrats were to listen to what the people want, then they should join the fight against Igor Dodon. The fact that they did not support Dodon from the beginning speaks of the fact that people hear and see the signals coming from the territory," said Sandu.