Incumbent Dorin Chirtoaca won re-election for a third term as mayor of Moldova’s capital city Chisinau, in a run-off on June 28 against a former prime minister nominated by pro-Russian socialists.
The local elections were seen as a test of pro-Moscow parties’ ability to trigger early elections following the resignation of prime minister Chiril Gaburici just days before the first round of voting. Instead, the pro-Western parties appear to have come out well ahead in terms of mayoral seats, as well as having a new impetus to pursue coalition talks to designate a new head of government.
Liberal-Democrat leader Vlad Filat offered his congratulations to Chirtoaca and Liberal party leader Mihai Ghimpu on June 29, emphasising the need for a renewed pro-EU coalition in parliament.
Relations between the Liberals and the two other pro-Western parties, the Liberal-Democrats and Democrats, have been strained for years, since the Liberals brought down Filat’s cabinet in 2013 – made worse by the fact that a splinter Liberal group left the party to back the Iurie Leanca government.
Earlier this year, following parliamentary elections in November 2014, the three parties once again failed to reach a coalition agreement, with the Liberal-Democrats and Democrats nominating Gaburici to head a minority government (the cabinet was invested using the support of the communist party).
Socialist leader Igor Dodon, who advocates scrapping Moldova’s association agreement with the EU and joining the Moscow-led customs union, blamed the party’s loss in Chisinau on the fact that the elections became overly politicised instead of focusing on administrative matters. Dodon, who lost to Chirtoaca at the mayoral elections in 2011 by one percentage point, said that the party would challenge the election results “for each individual case of fraud”.