Pro-European parties competing in Moldova’s local elections Sunday made strong gains throughout the country, signaling local support for continued European integration.

Despite declining polling numbers of several of the pro-European parties, and the large crowds drawn to recent anti-corruption protests in the aftermath of a large-scale banking scandal, voters turned out in support of the pro-European cause and in general, rejected Moscow-supported parties and candidates.

With 100 percent of the votes accounted for, the Central Election Committee reports that pro-European parties carried 25 of Moldova’s 32 rayon-level councils with the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) taking 13, the Democratic Party (PDM) taking 11, and the newly formed European People’s Platform (EPPM) picking up one.  The results at the municipal- and village-level are consistent with those seen at the rayon-level, resulting in a decisive victory for Pro-European ambitions.

The biggest prize, Chisinau’s mayoral seat, looks to remain in pro-European hands. As an absolute majority is required, many mayoral races throughout the country will go to a second-round, which will be held on June 28. The Liberal Party incumbent, Dorin Chirtoaca, is set to face-off against the Party of Socialists’ candidate and former Prime Minister (2008-2009) Zinaida Greceanii.  In the first round, Chirtoaca achieved a narrow plurality over Greceanii; however, the almost 17 percent of Sunday’s vote which went to other pro-European candidates is expected to unite behind Chirtoaca. Pro-European parties also look poised to form a majority coalition in the Chisinau Municipal Council, which can be expected to effectively cooperate with Chirtoacas administration to adopt further reforms and to create economic growth in the capital.

Image from Moldovan Central Election Committee

Image from Moldovan Central Election Committee

Of particular note is the strong performance of the EPPM voting-bloc, led by former Prime Minister Iurie Leanca. Confronted with a late entry to the campaign, constrained to running only in the capital and receiving virtually no funding or name identification, one of the few assets wielded by the bloc was targeted get-out-the-vote training by the International Republican Institute. The impressive 11 percent showing EPPM enjoyed after only forming two months prior to the election is a testimony to what western organizations can do to assist in building political parties.

These local elections have great implications for the national government. Recent events, including the banking scandal and the recent resignation of Prime Minister Chiril Gaburici, have created a crisis of confidence among Moldovans. The results nevertheless reaffirm Moldova’s commitment towards the West, and will no double reignite negotiations aimed at reconsolidating the three-party pro-European alliance that had previously governed.  Reviving this coalition will be critical to continuing cooperation discussions with the IMF and to embracing true anti-corruption efforts. With the assistance of the United States and the European Union, Moldova can take more pronounced steps toward implementing the Association Agreement and establishing the Deep and Comprehensive Free-Trade Area signed with the European Union last year. This in turn will enable Moldova to continue on its path toward its ultimate aspiration—full European Union membership.

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