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News 10 Nov 17

Moldovans Prefer EU to Russian Group, Survey Says

New survey suggests that despite growing confidence among pro-Russian forces in Moldova, more people want to join the EU than the Kremlin-backed trading association.

Madalin Necsutu
BIRN
Chisinau
Chisinau. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Nicolai Mihailiuc

A survey by the Washington-based non-profit International Republican Institute, coordinated by US performance-based consulting company Gallup Organization, reveals that far more people want the country to join the European Union than its Kremlin-backed alternative.

The survey showed that 49 per cent of Moldovan citizens favour joining the EU while 38 per cent would rather join the Eurasian Union, led by Russia.

Younger and middle-aged people are most in favour of joining the EU, with 65 per cent of the young and 51 per cent of the middle aged preferring this option. Those aged 50 and more opt more for the Eurasian Union.

The survey comes just a year before crucial parliamentary elections take place in which pro-Russian Socialists are tipped to take power and displace the pro-EU governments that have run the former Soviet republic for years.

A Socialist parliamentary victory would most likely result in Moldova scrapping the country’s current Association Agreement with the EU.

The Socialists are also campaigning to change the political structure of the country from a parliamentary system to a more presidential one, after the model of Belarus.

The same survey shows that voters remain almost evenly split between pro-Western and pro-Russian options.

If parliamentary elections were held next Sunday, 34 per cent of people would vote for the Socialists, 23 per cent for the pro-European Action and Solidarity party, led by Maia Sandu, and 9 per cent for the pro-European Democratic Party of Moldova.

These three parties are the only ones that would cross the 6-per-cent threshold needed to enter parliament.

Moldova’s current Pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, elected in November 2016, is already pushing hard for closer relations with Russia and the Eurasian Union, and for Moscow to become the main political and trading partner for Moldova once again.

However, Moldova now exports 64 per cent of its goods to European markets and only 10 per cent to Russia, having reoriented its exports quickly after Moscow imposed a trade embargo in 2013.

The poll was conducted between September and October on a sample of 1,514 people.

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