Polls open in Moldova's snap election

Photo: AP Maia Sandu

Polling stations in Moldova opened on 7 am Sunday morning and will close at 9 pm with voters eager to choose the new parliament after the previous one was dissolved by President Maia Sandu in attempt to strengthen her position against pro-Russia political forces, news wires reported.

Wedged between Ukraine and Romania, Moldova has long been divided over closer ties with Brussels or maintaining Soviet-era relations with Moscow. Sandu, who wants to bring Moldova into the EU, defeated Kremlin-backed incumbent Igor Dodon last November on a pledge to fight corruption.

With lawmakers loyal to Dodon blocking Sandu's promises of reform, she dissolved parliament in April and scheduled the snap vote. "We have a chance to get rid of thieves and choose a good government," Sandu said in a video address on Thursday, speaking in Moldova's main language Romanian. In another speech in Russian, the country's second language, she said: "The time for change is coming in Moldova."

Twenty parties and two electoral blocs are running in Sunday's elections. They must cross the threshold set at 5% and 7% respectively to obtain seats in the parliament. The 101 lawmakers will be elected for four-year term. 

In the days before the vote, Sandu's centre-right Action and Solidarity (PAS) party was leading. The latest polls showed PAS with 35-37% of the vote against 21-27% for the party's rivals from the coalition of socialists and communists led by Dodon and former President Vladimir Voronin.

Those figures only account for voters living in the country. Analysts say the diaspora, which is more than a third of Moldova's eligible voters and already threw its support behind Sandu during the presidential polls, could hold the key to the outcome. According to estimates, the diaspora could bring Sandu's party another 10-15 percentage points.

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