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The Moldavian election scenario. Who gains the Joker card in the second round?

06:17, 5-го листопада 2020 · Джерело: institutedd.org

The Moldavian election scenario. Who gains the Joker card in the second round?
On November 1st, 2020 there was the first round of the Presidential elections in Moldova. As it was expected, none of the candidates received over 50% of votes and therefore the second round of the presidential race in Republic of Moldova is expected within a fortnight.

The incumbent President of the Republic of Moldova Igor Dodon and the former Prime Minister, the leader of the PAS (Party of Action and Solidarity, in Romanian «Partidul Acțiune și Solidaritate»), Maia SANDU, are the expected candidates of the second round. However, the result in percentage terms between the candidates turned out to be quite unexpected, namely they show that Ms. SANDU is going to surpass her competitor, Igor DODON. After processing 100% of the protocols, the PAS leader received the majority of votes – 36.16%, followed by the incumbent president – 32.61%. The percentage of votes for the other candidates is also important for the further analysis. The third place was taken by the mayor of Bălți, Renato USATÎI (16,90%), followed by: Violeta IVANOV (6,49%), Andrei NĂSTASE (3,26%), Octavian ȚÎCU (2,01%), Tudor DELIU (1,37%), Dorin CHIRTOACĂ (1,20%).

The analysis of the polling results indicates that M. SANDU has won not least due to the Moldavian Diaspora, as 70% of the population voted for the leader of the “PAS” at the foreign polling stations. At the same time, it did not even help that I. DODON opened the additional polling stations in Russian Federation. It became clear that the “Russian” voters were more passive than the “European” ones, when thousands of them lined up at the polling stations in Europe.

However, it is noted that DODON has been put at a quite strong disadvantage in Moldova. The parallel vote counting conducted by the Promo-Lex Association noted that without counting the votes of Transnistrians and the diaspora, the incumbent president did not significantly outrun SANDU, having received only 2% more – 35% vs. 33%. In comparison, in 2016 the difference between them was 10% in favor of DODON. This time it is quite significant that the latter was not supported by the capital when last year it elected the Socialist Ion Ceban as the mayor. Thus, Botanica was the only district of Chișinău that supported the president, a long-standing stronghold of socialists in the city, although even there DODON won with only 5% difference.

However, this does not mean that Maia SANDU and her team can relax. The victory in the first round does not guarantee the victory in the second, especially in today’s fast-changing environment. Having gained the Sunday’s victory SANDU owes to the Moldavian European Diaspora, the representatives of which in some cases traveled hundreds of kilometers to vote. However, in the face of increasing quarantine restrictions in Europe, next time it might be more difficult. Therefore, the PAS team needs to focus on the pro-European voters inside Moldova who did not come to the polls in the first round and to motivate them to come to the polls in the second round.

The same applies to DODON who has already called on his electorate to “mobilize for the second round and not give the country into the hands of the “Western marionettes”. DODON is expected to try to “involve the Transnistrians” again, but the voting on Sunday demonstrated that such a move was not effective enough, because, in fact, very few voters from the Left Bank came to the polls. Consequently, they accounted for only 1% of the total number of voters. This may have happened due to a pandemic (the Transnistrian media portray the situation in Moldova as more difficult than in the unrecognized republic itself), or possibly due to the pre-announced blockade of roads by the 1992-war veterans.

One way or another, the intrigue of the second round of the presidential elections in Moldova 2020 is kept by the question about who will support the voters of the other two left-wing candidates – Renato USATÎI and Violeta IVANOV, who together constitute about 24% of votes and they can secure victory to one of the candidates on November 15th. And if IVANOV according to the agreements that exist (as it is said by the media) between the PSRM (Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova) and the Șor party will most likely call on her voters to support DODON, things are more complicated with R. USATÎI.

At first glance, it seems logical that Renato USATÎI is more pro-Russian candidate who has lived and worked in Moscow for a long time, his is mostly supported by the voters from the north of the country (the regions of sustained support for the pro-Russian candidates). And in 2016 USATÎI himself called to support DODON in the second round. However, since then, the two politicians have had a lot of different views. USATÎI’s campaign in 2020 is built on the confrontation with DODON, whom he referred to as the new head of the country’s corruption system, and it was USATÎI who told the press about Igor DODON’s and the fugitive oligarch Vlad PLAKHOTNYUK’s meeting in Greece. The two candidates nearly had a fight on the eve of the election, when USATÎI disrupted DODON’s meeting with voters in one of the cities of the Republic of Moldova, Felești.

That is why today Renato USATÎI is a kind of “Joker” in the Moldova’s electorate deck. The card which can be both a heart and a spade, or it can even become a diamond, or a club. As of today, it is already known about the real possibility that USATÎI will support SANDU if she provides in return her “clear plan to dissolve the parliament as soon as possible” in case of her victory. He called DODON the most corrupted politician in the country.

It is intriguing to ponder whether the USATÎI’s supporters will vote for DODON who is ideologically close to them, or because of his being accused of corruption and connections with PLAKHOTNYUK, they will vote for SANDU, or, most likely, will simply not come to the polls.

Another issue which is on the minds of many is the possibility of mass protests after the second round, in case one of the parties decides that the votes have been stolen from it. However, so far the Moldavian society has not shown any protest determination. Most likely, after the second round, whoever wins, the confrontation will turn to the level of the parliamentary battles with the attempts to create a new coalition, or, on the contrary, to completely reset the parliament through the early elections.

Chișinău, specially for the Institute of Democratization and Development
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