Moldova Presidential Election: November 1, 2020

A protest in Chisinau, Moldova in 2015. Photo credit: Wikimedia/Bertramz (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Freedom House Rating
Partly Free
Government Type
Parliamentary Republic
3.4 million
Presidential Election
November 1, 2020
Parliamentary Elections
February 2023 (due – snap possible)
Local Elections
October 2023 (due)
Local Elections
October 20, 2019
Parliamentary Elections
February 24, 2019
Presidential Election
November 13, 2016

Moldova will hold a presidential election on November 1, 2020. Because Moldova’s political situation is volatile, snap parliamentary elections are also possible.

Political Context

Moldova sits at a geopolitical crossroads, and political debate has focused on whether to orient the country toward Europe or Russia. However, issues of corruption and state capture by oligarchs came to the forefront of Moldovan politics in 2019. Following inconclusive parliamentary elections last year, the pro-Europe center-right ACUM and the pro-Russia Socialists (PSRM) remarkably formed a surprise coalition government to oust oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc’s Democratic Party and end months of deadlock. ACUM leader Maia Sandu became prime minister, and set out to reform Moldova’s institutions.

However, the coalition fell in November 2019 over disagreements over reforms in the space of rule of law – specifically, the question of whom to appoint as the country’s prosecutor-general. ACUM wanted an independent prosecutor who would hold government officials accountable, while PSRM wanted guarantees that their officials would be immune from prosecution. Ultimately, PSRM teamed up with Plahotniuc’s allies to oust Sandu and institute a pro-Russia government headed by PSRM loyalist Ion Chicu. However, members of parliament from the government bloc continue to defect to other parties, leaving Chicu with a slim majority, which he risks losing. Consequently snap elections are well within the realm of possibility.

Igor Dodon from PSRM is Moldova’s current president. He narrowly defeated Sandu in 2016 in a runoff. Dodon is running for re-election, and Sandu is also running again. It is likely that the runoff will be a rematch of 2016, Dodon vs Sandu. Because Moldova is a parliamentary republic, the president’s actual power is limited.

Geopolitical Context

Moldova sits on the front lines of geopolitical competition between Russia and the West. Russia instigated and continues to perpetuate a frozen conflict in the Moldova region of Transnistria, where 1,200 Russian troops are stationed – an obstacle to Moldova’s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Additionally, Transnistria’s rampant organized crime and corruption also threaten Moldova’s stability. Russia also stokes separatism in Gagauzia, a Turkic-speaking region of Moldova.

Curated News and Analysis

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (October 15, 2020): Moldova’s Pro-Russian President under Pressure in Re-Run of 2016 Election

Marek Grzegorczyk, Emerging Europe (October 13, 2020): Just weeks before presidential vote, GRECO raps Moldova over failure to tackle corruption

Madalin Necsutu, Balkan Insight (May 15, 2020): Chicu Risks Losing his Majority in Moldovan Parliament

The Economist (December 12, 2019): A pro-Western government has been pushed out in Moldova

Casey Michel, World Politics Review (February 6, 2020): How Moldova Is Slowly Freeing Itself From the Grip of Corrupt Oligarchs

21votes does not necessarily agree with all of the opinions expressed in the linked articles; rather, our goal is to curate a wide range of voices. Furthermore, none of the individuals or organizations referenced have reviewed 21votes’ content, and their inclusion should not be taken to imply that they endorse us in any way. More on our approach here

Updated October 16, 2020

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