'Moldova is at a crossroads,' leader of pro-European opposition Maia Sandu tells Euronews

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By Mark Armstrong
'Moldova is at a crossroads,' leader of pro-European opposition Maia Sandu tells Euronews
Copyright  AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda

Moldovans head to the polls on November 1 to elect the country's next president in a choice between East and West.

The main challenger to pro-Russian President Igor Dodon is the former prime minister Maia Sandu, the leader of the Party of Action and Solidarity.

She told Euronews about why she thinks the election is important and why she's looking for a Moldova free from the influences of Moscow.

"Moldova is at the crossroads. It either becomes a functional state with competent leadership, or it becomes a failed state," Sandu said.

"A functional state means, first of all, a state which stops corruption, which encourages businesses. We need a president who's going to defend Moldova's national interests regardless of whether this is in relation to Russia or other countries."

Some of her party's billboards read: "He thinks he can steal the election."

"He (Dodon) is trying to rig the elections," claimed Sandu. "We have been sending these strong messages to prevent him from doing that. But in case he will pursue his plans, we're warning him that people will go to the streets because this is what people tell us."

In the country's 2016 elections, Dodon’s vision won him 52.11% of the vote to Sandu’s 47.89%.

This time, most opinion polls have Sandu ahead with a narrow advantage.

But one set of poll results released on Friday, October 23, by the Association of Sociologists and Demographers, tipped Dodon to get 32.5% of the votes and Sandu 18.4%.

The former Soviet republic is Europe's poorest country and Dodon is campaigning on a promise of improved infrastructure and better social care. 

He's also promising modernisation of rural areas, a sustainable economy, a "balanced" foreign policy and the preservation of "traditional", Christian values.

Political observers think the vote will go to a run-off - a narrow choice between pursuing integration with Europe or remaining under Russia’s wing.