Name? Maia Sandu
Westphalian identity? Moldavian
Why is she in the news? In April, Moldova’s President Sandu called for snap parliamentary elections which were held yesterday. The results strengthen the hand of Sandu as she pushes to reform her ex-Soviet country and fight corruption. Her pro EU, centre-right Action and Solidarity (PAS) party took 52.80 % of the vote.
Why do we care? Moldova is part of Russia’s sphere of influence and such a clear victory for the pro EU part of the population sends a strong signal to the regional powers of the EU and Russia. Stuck between Ukraine and EU member Romania, the country of about 2.6 million has long been divided over closer ties with the European Union or maintaining Soviet-era relations with Moscow, a battle Sandu now won.
Why should you care? It is a country of 2,6 million people that has just annoyed Putin a bit and made the EU happy. Apart from Moldovans and the geopolitical significance for diplomats nobody really cares. But you should still care 3/10 just for reading about a country most of us cannot find on a map.
Who else cares? Vladimir Putin. As we already mentioned, Moldova is part of Russia’s sphere of influence and Putin made that clear when he supported Sandu’s opposing candidate with 11,4 million Euros before the election. This is another sign that Putin’s mojo seems to be drying up as Russia is no longer able to convince former Soviet states with soft power as he relies more on hard power.
Any further comments? All parties were concerned that international voices would influence the outcome of this election and they did, but not the ones you would think about. As a former World Bank economist, Sandu is very popular among well educated expats who no longer live in Moldova but made up a considerable voting block tilting the result in Sandu’s favour; of all expats, 86% voted for her.