Pro-EU Government Set to Rule Moldova After Election Triumph

Moldova is on the verge of getting a pro-European government that could help President Maia Sandu follow through on the promises she made as she took charge of the region’s poorest country late last year.

Parliamentary elections Sunday produced a victory for the Action and Solidarity, or PAS, party that Sandu helped create. It garnered 52.5% of votes, compared with 27.4% for ex-President Igor Dodon’s Socialists. Only one other smaller party met the minimum 5% threshold to enter the legislature.

The result validates Sandu’s decision to dissolve parliament in April and could end the long-standing tug-of-war between political forces that favor integration with the European Union and those that prefer stronger ties to Moscow.

Moldova has endured years of corruption and scandals, leaving the country of 3.5 million people dependent on foreign funding that’s currently delayed over an erosion of democratic standards and a lack of progress in recovering assets stolen in a $1 billion banking fraud in 2014.

“The fact we only got two major parties shows how polarized Moldovan society is,” said Iulian Chifu, a political analyst in Bucharest. “The stakes are very high because the country needs rapid reforms that could help unlock international funding.”

While Sandu’s victory last year was unexpected, she now has a chance to consolidate power. Plans include overhauling the judiciary, confiscating illegally obtained assets and improving anti-corruption efforts. She’s also counting on 600 million euros ($712 million) of assistance from the EU over the next three years to boost investment and buoy the economy. The money is contingent on the new government fulfilling “strict” conditions on reforms.

On Sunday, Sandu -- a 49-year-old former World Bank economist -- and her new party rode a wave of support from a large diaspora angry at persistent graft. More than 200,000 Moldovans voted abroad, with those in Romania and other western countries outnumbering their compatriots in Russia and the breakaway region of Transnistria.

“This is our chance to clean up the political class, as corruption in the state stems from corruption in politics,” Sandu said. “We made a first step at the presidential elections and I’m not saying everything will change overnight. There’ll be hurdles, but at least these changes can start happening, one step at a time.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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