L’Invité D&B: Moldova’s election: a strong popular vote for a “weak” political institution

The existing configuration in the parliament and executive branch does not serve Sandu’s plans to implement immediate radical changes. She has to confront a parliament without a majority and a government that was appointed by Dodon. That limits her maneuverability considerably at the beginning of her mandate. Positive and negative scenarios can both emerge out of the lack of ability to leverage power.

By Dionis Cenuşa° – initially published on Eastern Europe Studies Center

° Dionis Cenuşa, PhD candidate and researcher at Justus-Liebig University (Germany), Policy & Political Analyst on Eastern Partnership States and Russia, Energy Security Program Director at Expert-Grup (Moldova).

The run-off of the presidential elections turned into a big occasion of celebration for the pro-reform electorate at home and in the diaspora. The leader of the opposition, former Prime Minister Maia Sandu, won the election, gaining almost 1 million votes out of 1.6 million votes cast.

Diaspora against Dodon

The outcome of the elections was inspiring in many regards. The two candidates incentivized citizens to vote more actively than four years ago. Maia Sandu obtained almost 58% of the total votes, compared to less-successful candidate Igor Dodon’s 42%. Her results improved by approximately 200,000 votes from the second round of the 2016 presidential elections that she lost against Igor Dodon. The overall turnout improved by 4% – 52.7% compared to 48.5% in the first round (See Table 1).

Table 1. Primary data from the 2020 Moldovan elections

One of the turning points in the second round was Dodon’s statement that the diaspora would represent the country’s “parallel electorate.” These mistakes, made by his electoral advisers, enraged voters abroad, who increased their turnout in the run-off by 57%. Consequently, both diaspora and migrants constituted about 16% (around 262,000) of the total voters. Their vote went to Sandu at a proportion of almost 93%. At some polling stations –Frankfurt, London, etc. – voting ballots ran out, leaving hundreds of voters without the possibility to cast their vote.

The various electoral techniques and means used by Dodon to offset the vote of the irritated diaspora did not pay off.

Read the rest of the analysis here (free access)

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