The election in Moldova on November 30th was as dirty as could be. Pro-European parties accused the Russian intelligence services of illegally funding their opponents. Just before the poll, the courts banned one pro-Russian party for receiving money from abroad, a move its supporters called abusing the judiciary for political ends. In all probability both claims are true. Many voters would agree with Igor Botan, a political analyst, that the choice was between “pro-Europe crooks and pro-Russia crooks”. Ultimately, three pro-Europe parties won a narrow majority in parliament. Now they must deliver on promises to adopt European Union regulations, made in an association agreement signed in June. EU leaders’ renewed attention to Moldova, prompted by the war in neighbouring Ukraine, should provide some incentive. Just before the election, Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, wrote to Iurie Leanca, Moldova’s prime minister, and mentioned the country’s “perspective of membership” of the EU.
Pro-Russia parties want to scrap the EU deal and join Russia’s Eurasian Customs Union instead. They include the new Socialist Party, the election’s largest single vote-winner. Russia has many tools with which to press its case: in retaliation for the EU deal, it has banned many Moldovan exports, including wine. Roughly half of Moldova’s total workforce live abroad; most are in Russia, though going west has become easier since April, when the EU granted Moldovans visa-free travel.
The country’s many Russian-speakers are strongly influenced by Moscow’s state-controlled television and world-view. Many believe that Romania wants to reabsorb Moldova, most of which was stripped from it by the Soviet Union in 1940. The small autonomous region of Gagauzia, inhabited mainly by Russian- and Gagauz-speaking Turkic Christians, held a referendum in February calling for accession to the Eurasian Union. As a reward, Russia lifted the ban on imports of Gagauz wine.
Full Article: Moldova’s election: Slouching towards Europe | The Economist.