Moldova”s electoral fee on Monday revealed that Maia Sandu led President Igor Dodon within the first spherical of the nation’s presidential elections, with 35.77% to 32.87%.

Each candidates now undergo to the second spherical on November 15 with expectations of one other tight race between the 2 rivals, who additionally went face to face in 2016.

On that event, Dodon beat Sandu by simply 70,000 votes, and the nation stays firmly divided between two competing visions: Dodon favours nearer alignment with Moscow, whereas Sandu sees Moldova’s future as a part of the European Union.

Though the election has been pitted as an important battle between two very completely different candidates, the turnout on Sunday was solely round 41%, 5% lower than in 2016. Moldova, like elsewhere in Europe, has been hit laborious by COVID-19 and concern of getting contaminated seemingly stored many citizens at house.

Whereas the election has been broadly interpreted as a battle between east and west in one among Europe’s frontier states, analysts informed Euronews final week that the true concern for voters in 2020 was Moldova’s financial future because the nation struggles to get better from coronavirus.

“The election marketing campaign is just like that fought by Invoice Clinton within the 1990s, specifically: ‘It’s the financial system, silly’,” mentioned Radu Magdin, CEO of Smartlink Communications in Bucharest, on Friday.

COVID-19 has been “a game-changer,” he mentioned, “as a result of what we’re seeing within the polls in addition to from chatting with Moldovans is concern concerning the financial penalties of the virus.”

The second spherical might be intently watched each in Moldova and overseas with allegations of vote-rigging and vote-buying made within the run-up to the ballot. Sandu and different opposition candidates have accused Dodon and his social gathering of “bussing in” hundreds of voters from the breakaway area of Transnistria.

Transnistria, which declared its independence from Moldova in 1992 and fought a struggle with the nation in 1994, is closely subsidised and supported by Moscow, which has hundreds of peacekeepers within the nation. Round 350,000 of its residents have Moldovan citizenship and may vote in Moldova.

In each 2016 and parliamentary elections in 2019, tens of hundreds of voters have been transported throughout the Dniester River – which separates Moldova from Transnistria – to vote for pro-Moscow events.

There have additionally been fears that most of the between 1.2m and 2m Moldovans that dwell abroad – and have a tendency to vote Sandu – could discover it troublesome to vote due to coronavirus restrictions in nations similar to France and the UK, dealing one other blow to the opposition within the second spherical.

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