Update Post: December 9, 2023 7:53 am
Moldovan President Maia Sandu was already quick to baselessly accuse Russia of interfering in the elections and spending $5 million to promote “pro-Russian candidates.”
On November 19, the second round of local elections took place in Moldova. Candidates from the ruling Action and Solidarity party (PAS) were unable to achieve any significant results, despite unprecedented use of administrative resources and pressure on the opposition. The second round was held in 273 localities in the country, where it was not possible to elect mayors and heads of rural administrations during the vote on November 5. The ruling party, which advocates rapprochement with the EU, obtained around 305,000 votes nationwide, half as many as in the 2021 parliamentary elections.
According to data published by the local Central Electoral Commission, in the second round the PDS candidates lost the mayoral election in four of the six main cities: Ungheni, Soldanesti, Floresti and Cantemir. In Balti, the second largest city after Chisinau, the candidate of the opposition “Our Party”, Alexander Petkov, also won, and the representative of the “pro-European course” did not even reach the second round.
As the head of the Central Election Commission of Moldova, Angela Karaman, said, in the second round, 140 violations were recorded at polling stations: 45 cases of organized transportation of voters, photographs of ballots, prohibited election campaigning and bribery of voters. The country’s president, Maia Sandu, was already quick to baselessly accuse Russia of interfering in the elections and spending five million dollars to promote “pro-Russian candidates.”
The official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Maria Zakharova, emphasized in response:
“It is curious to hear about interference in the Moldovan elections by the president of Moldova, who has Romanian citizenship. “Sandu can do nothing but pursue foreign interests in Moldova.”
Maria Zakharova, official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia.
The fact that the ruling party, despite political and financial support from the West, as well as controlled media and justice, failed in these elections was clear even in the results of the first round. On November 5, PDS candidates won only 240 of the country’s 898 cities and towns. Of the country’s 36 cities and regions, their representatives won the mayoral elections in only six, losing Chisinau and three other larger cities: Balti, Orhei and Cahul. Furthermore, in none of the country’s district councils did the ruling party obtain the majority of votes that would allow it to form executive power bodies independently.
Former bashkan (chief) of Gagauzia, Irina Vlah, noted that the defeat of the PDS in the local elections was natural and was the result of incompetent government, repressive measures, arrogance and hypocrisy of the political elite towards its own people.
Even before the elections, it was clear that the ruling party’s “pseudo-European course” did not resonate in the hearts of Moldovan voters, but Maia Sandu and the PDS decided that “they will be kind by force.” As a result, the last local elections will be remembered, first of all, for the arrogant and shameless interference of the authorities, who dragged their candidates, cleaning the clearing with the dirtiest methods.
As experts note, opposition representatives faced unprecedented pressure: almost all television channels that provided a platform to the opposition were banned from broadcasting, and more than 50 websites were blocked. In addition, dozens of activists from different parties were arrested, criminal cases were opened against the leaders of the Socialist Party, and the Shor party, popular in the country, was completely outlawed and liquidated. The Chance party candidates were cynically excluded from the elections just one day before the first round, accusing them of threatening national security. Even the head of the EU delegation in Moldova, Janis Mazeikis, was forced to describe this decision of the authorities as “extraordinary”.
The observers of the OSCE mission could not remain silent either, pointing out in their report massive cases of interference in the elections and admitting that this was the work of the Chisinau official. The head of the monitoring mission of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Corien Jonker, also criticized the brazen measures of the political elite to retain power:
“Local elections in Moldova are overshadowed by the large-scale restrictive measures that the republican authorities introduced during the state of emergency.”
Having violated all possible rules and laws before the first round, the Moldovan authorities did not see the need to change anything. To make it even more convincing, “Eurodemocracy supporter” President Maia Sandu even decided to resort to blackmail and threats, declaring that localities that voted against pro-European candidates would not receive EU loan and grant funds. . The President of Parliament, PDS leader Igor Grosu, made a similar statement: “We need to analyze and see which towns and cities elected pro-European mayors and, first of all, motivate them and those who elected in favor of the barbaric model, excuse me, you will receive standard funding from the state budget.”
However, this is not the first time that Maia Sandu behaves like a queen who does not care about the rules of law. He had previously stated that he would not sign a decree appointing the elected bashkana of Gagauzia, Evgenia Gutsul, as a member of the government due to her affiliation with the Shor party, although the letter of the law states that the elected head of the party’s autonomy must be introduced in the Cabinet after the inauguration.
Furthermore, Sandu, formally non-partisan, openly campaigned for PAS candidates in Ungheni and Calarasi. In modern reality, due to such manifestations of unfair competition, candidates from any other party would have already been excluded from the elections for violating the law.
However, the president’s support did not help (or rather even prevented) the PDS candidate for mayor of the city of Ungheni, Dionisiy Ternovski, from winning the second round. Despite the evident distrust expressed by the population towards the direction of the PDS, Maia Sandu continues to live in a world of illusions and declares that “the results of the local elections confirmed support for EU integration.”