November in the Republic of Moldova was marked by the end of the presidential elections saga. A candidate from the Action and Solidarity Party, Maia Sandu came as a winner. The post-electoral euphoria quickly subsided. Voters look forward to concrete steps to improve the situation in the country, especially during these difficult times of the pandemic, while the new president will take the office on December 24, 2020.
Early Parliamentary Elections?
The first round of the presidential elections on November 1 became a wake-up call for the incumbent president Igor Dodon: he gained only 32.61% of the votes against 36.16% given to his main rival, Maia Sandu. 16.9% of the candidate from “Our Party” Renato Usatii, the mayor of the Balti municipality, was a surprise of this plebiscite, as the other candidates failed to overcome the 7% threshold,.
On November 15, in the second round of the presidential elections Igor Dodon won 42.28% of the votes, and Maia Sandu – 57.72% thus becoming the first female president in the Republic of Moldova.
Already on November 25, the President-elect Maia Sandu held a briefing and presented her priorities for the next period, noting her intention to “bring the Republic of Moldova out of international isolation and pursue a positive foreign policy” immediately after taking her office.
It is worth noting that at a press conference on November 30, Maia Sandu said that she was in favor of early parliamentary elections, since the current convocation is unable to create a parliamentary majority that would support the implementation of the necessary reforms. “It is clear to us that this government must leave. Before leaving, this cabinet of ministers must fulfil its functions. Last week we came up with requests to ensure that the budget for 2021 has enough support for the most affected population due to the pandemic and the economic crisis,” Sandu added.
The National Commission for Emergency Situations (NCES) declared a public health state of emergency throughout the Republic of Moldova from November 30, 2020, till January 15, 2021.
The Minister of Health, Labor, and Social Protection Viorica Dumbreveanu reported that a total of 102,894 coronavirus cases was confirmed so far, with 10,880 active, 3,499 people hospitalized, 253 people in intensive care, and 52 people connected to artificial respiration units. Chisinau hospitals are 90% full, while hospitals in regions of the country are 85% full.
To prevent the COVID-19 infection spread, the commission decided to ban the activities of nightclubs (discos, karaoke, disco bars) starting from November 28, 2020. Starting from November 30, restaurants, bars, and cafes are open until 22.00. Also, the commission prohibited organizing and conducting scientific conferences, sports competitions, Olympiads with the physical presence of people. Theatres, cinemas, concert halls, and houses of culture are closed for spectators. At the same time, public and private institutions are to establish a special mode of operation, employing only personnel strictly necessary to ensure the functionality of enterprises. For personnel whose activities do not require mandatory presence at work, they should provide the ability to work from home.
“Maia Sandu is in favor of early parliamentary elections, since in the current convocation it is impossible to create a parliamentary majority that would support the implementation of the necessary reforms.”
The Changes Were Not Long in Coming
Soon after the announcement of the presidential elections results, the Republic of Moldova received the first tranche of 51.6 million euros within the framework of the loan agreement between the Republic of Moldova and the European Union on macro-financial assistance, signed by the parties on July 21, 2020.
For the first time, the Republic of Moldova and the United States will sign a Bilateral agreement on air transportation of the “Open skies” type. The corresponding document between the governments of the Republic of Moldova and the United States of America was initialed on November 4.
“The “Open skies” Agreement coming into force will create preconditions for the launch of direct flights from Chisinau to the US destinations, facilitate the opening of the air transportation market in the Republic of Moldova and diversify directions at Chisinau International Airport. On the other hand, this will have a positive impact on strengthening diplomatic and economic relations, facilitating investment cooperation between the Republic of Moldova and the United States of America. Besides, open airspace with the United States will bring impressive economic benefits to our country by increasing passenger traffic, as well as increasing competition in the domestic aviation market,” the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure said.
Will Russian troops be withdrawn from Transnistria?
The OSCE election observation mission for presidential elections in the Republic of Moldova stated that the second round was held in compliance with the democratic principles and passed without serious violations. The head of the mission, Corien Jonker, said that “in general, the electoral process was held in accordance with democratic principles, without serious violations.”
The second round of the presidential elections set a record for the turnout among the Moldovan citizens living abroad, exceeding the number of 260 thousand. With their choice, the Moldovan diaspora made it clear what vector of development they want for their country: Maia Sandu received 92.93% of the votes of the Moldovans abroad, while Igor Dodon received only 7.07%.
At a large press conference on November 30, the president-elect Maia Sandu spoke about the Transnistrian problem. Sandu noted that there are two forms of Russian military presence in Transnistria: the Operational Group of Russian Forces in Transnistria (OGRF), which guards military warehouses, and peacekeepers participating in the peacekeeping operation.
“There was no treaty or bilateral agreement on the location of the operational group of forces in Transnistria. OGRF must be removed from the territory of Moldova. (…) I will work with Russia as long as necessary to resolve the issue of the weapons export and the withdrawal of troops,” Sandu said. As for the peacekeepers, Sandu added that “since there has been no danger of military actions for a long time, this mission should be made civilian under the auspices of the OSCE. This is the position of Moldova, which I confirm”.
However, the press secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin Dmitry Peskov noted that this topic was not discussed with the Kremlin yet. Also, Peskov added that “Russia performs very important functions and, of course, a change in some status quo based on the spirit and letter of international law, certainly, can lead to serious destabilization. Therefore, we expect that all this will be discussed and that no drastic movements will be made in this regard.”
The turn out among Moldovans living abroad was record