Moldova’s two-round presidential election, on November 1 and November 15, was – above everything else – a clash of cultures. It pitted the incumbent Socialist, Russia-oriented President Igor Dodon, with his core electorate of aging and rural voters, against the Harvard-educated technocrat Maia Sandu, the candidate of educated urban voters, the young and the Moldovan diaspora in Europe. With Moldova itself evenly divided between two cultural matrixes, its diaspora voters in Europe tipped the balance.
Ms. Sandu won the November 15 runoff by an unexpectedly heavy margin, 58 percent against Mr. Dodon’s 42 percent. Two weeks earlier, she had outvoted Mr. Dodon in the first round narrowly, by 36 percent to 33 percent. Most forecasts had projected Ms. Sandu trailing Mr. Dodon in the first round and standing an even chance with him in the runoff. The turnout was 52 percent over all; within that, it was higher in the European diaspora than in Moldova itself (Unimedia, November 1, 2, 16, 17).