A court in the Republic of Moldova has refused to confirm Andrei Nastase as the new mayor of the country’s capital, Chisinau.
Mr Nastase, leader of the Dignity and Truth Platform and backed by the pro-European PAS party, won a recent second-round run-off against Ion Ceban of the Moldovan Socialist Party, controlled by the country’s pro-Russian president, Igor Dodon. In the first round of voting Mr Nastase had surprisingly beaten the interim mayor Silvia Radu, nominally independent but supported by the ruling Democratic Party – led by controversial businessman Vlad Plahotniuc – into third place.
On June 19 however, a Chisinau court refused to validate Mr Nastase’s victory, claiming that he had broken the rules by urging people to go and vote on election day: campaigning on polling day is forbidden.
Pro-European politicians have been quick to condemn the court’s ruling as political.
“The justice system controlled by Plahotniuc has today taken the most criminal decision possible: it has trampled all over the free will of Moldovan citizens,” said Maia Sandu, the leader of PAS. “They have spat on the votes of ordinary people.”
“This unprecedented decision is Plahotniuc showing us that he, and only he, decides what happens in this country. He decides who wins and who loses,” added Ms Sandu.
Cristian Preda, a Romanian member of the European Parliament, said that the invalidation of Mr Nastase’s victory was another example of how the unofficial alliance between Mr Dodon and Mr Plahotniuc is strangling Moldovan democracy.
“This toxic couple want to turn Moldova into Belarus,” he said, adding that he will be referring the matter to the institutions of the European Union.
Chisinau’s election was originally called in the wake of the resignation of Dorin Chirtoaca, who is facing numerous charges of corruption. With Mr Nastase’s victory now declared null, Mrs Radu will continue to serve as the Moldovan capital’s interim mayor until the next scheduled regular election, next year.