CHISINAU (Reuters) – An election in ex-Soviet Moldova next weekend will decide how closely it sticks to its path of European integration in defiance of Russia, as neighboring Ukraine struggles to handle a war triggered by following a similar pro-Europe line.
The country – one of Europe’s smallest and poorest on the western rim of the old Soviet Union – has moved closer to the European mainstream than any other ex-Soviet republic, barring the Baltic states.
But, as a Nov. 30 parliamentary election approaches, opinion polls show Moldova’s public deeply divided over whether to stick to this path or change tack and join a Russia-led economic bloc.
The course pursued by the three-party Alliance for European Integration, in power since 2009, has earned Moldova, a landlocked country of 3.5 million bordered by Ukraine and EU member Romania, a ban on imports of its vegetables, wines and meats by Russia, its biggest energy supplier.
Disenchantment with the center-right coalition’s poor record in fighting corruption and rivalry among its leaders as well as nostalgia for the stability of Soviet times could result in a big vote for the left next Sunday.
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