It is a small revolution in the former Soviet republic of Moldova. The first woman to take the presidency, Maia Sandu, 48, created a surprise, Sunday, November 15, by far ahead of the outgoing pro-Russian Igor Dodon, with 57.75% of the vote.
The pro-European candidate owes her victory to the record mobilization of the diaspora. Almost 258,000 Moldovans living abroad took part in the ballot and over 90% voted for it.
A reputation for incorruptibility
The daughter of a veterinarian and a music teacher, Maia Sandu grew up in Risipeni, a village in Soviet Moldova, before studying economics, law and international relations in the capital Chisinau.
Graduated from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2010, she worked at the Ministry of the Economy, then as an economist at the World Bank, in Chisinau then in Washington. Minister of public education between 2012 and 2015, Maia Sandu has forged a reputation for incorruptibility by installing hundreds of cameras in the baccalaureate examination centers to fight against the purchase of good marks.
According to the NGO Transparency International, the amount of bribes paid to education during the first two years of his ministry fell by 50%. Prime Minister for a few months, in 2019, Maia Sandu started an ambitious justice reform before being overthrown by parliament. The strengthening of the independence of the public prosecutor threatened the oligarchic system.
→ PORTRAIT. Maia Sandu, the incorruptible Moldovan
Maia Sandu campaigned on the theme of reforms to fight corruption, violations of the rule of law, poverty and emigration. In 2015, the country was rocked by a huge scandal, the disappearance of a billion dollars from the coffers of three national banks, the equivalent of 15% of the GDP. “Today you have the power to punish those who stole from you, who reduced you to misery and forced you to leave your home”, she said, Sunday, November 15, after having voted.
Between Russia and the European Union
In foreign policy, the president-elect wants to continue bringing her country closer to the European Union while maintaining good relations with Russia. For Moscow, which openly supported its rival Igor Dodon, recently received in the Kremlin by Vladimir Putin with a promise of financial aid, Maia Sandu’s victory is a failure.
Russian advisers had joined the outgoing president’s campaign team, according to independent media. Russia even accused the United States of orchestrating “A revolutionary scenario for Moldova”.
Before the second round, false rumors did not spare the pro-European candidate, an unmarried woman, accused of wanting to attack ” traditional values »Christian. The outgoing president repeated that the opposition candidate would close schools, liquidate town halls, block road repairs and “give” Moldova to Romania.
In the presidency, where she will be invested on December 23, Maia Sandu risks having limited room for maneuver, for lack of a loyal parliamentary majority. While waiting for probable early elections.