Adopt a vote! - Moldovan diaspora mobilization

Hand with painted Moldovan flag on it
On the 30th of October Moldovans had presidential elections for the first time in the last 16 years and what is happening right now might be a turning point for Moldova. None of the candidates reached the 50% + 1 votes for a decisive result, so next weekend, on the 13th of November we will have a second round of elections with only two candidates – Maia Sandu and Igor Dodon. 

Maia Sandu is a pro-European candidate. She studied at Harvard, worked at the World Bank and few years ago she came back to Moldova. As a Minister of Education for 3 years she tried to reform the system and decrease corruption. As a result, two years in a row around half of the students did not pass the maturity exam because of stricter rules (especially cameras). Personally, I hoped that was our chance to get rid of corruption at least at one level, but then her position was taken by another ministry. 

Igor Dodon is a pro-Russian candidate. He is a former member of the Communist Party, currently chairman of the Socialist Party and was Minister of Economy from 2006 to 2009. Recently, he addressed the president of Romania, Traian Basescu, who just got Moldovan citizenship, that after the elections he’s going to lose it, because he does not deserve it. Worse than that, he said that Crimea belongs to Russia (in fact – annexed in 2014), which in turn led to the temporary retreat of the Ukrainian ambassador in Moldova back to his country. Besides that, Ukrainian deputies asked officially their Security Service to declare him a non grata person in Ukraine. Practically, as a potential president, he damaged both his relation with Romania and Ukraine, which are our two only neighbours. How is he trying to win elections? There is a denigration campaign of Maia Sandu that aims to scare less educated people and elder people with two big lies about Maia Sandu. First, she is said to have alreay brought 10 000 Syrians to Moldova and there are 20 000 more to arrive. Second, she is said to close churches, but 'dark voices' also put in a bad light the fact that she is sustained even by the LGBT community (Moldova still has a low level of tolerance and that is important in a moment like this). Believe it or not, people take all these as a truth. (A few days ago, here in Italy, a Moldovan, all scared, told me that Maia Sandu has an ultimatum from Merkel regarding the Syrians.) 

And now comes my favourite part. 

The first elections saw a small percentage of young people voting, and worried about what might happen if the Pinocchio of Moldova wins, diaspora started a mobilization that reached an unbelievable stage. Or at least, this is something that lots of us would have never expected to happen. A Moldovan young woman from Spain created a Facebook group named “Adopt a vote” where everyone is now offering a ride or a place to sleep if they don’t have a polling station close to the place they live. People that don’t know each other are organizing themselves by cities, by countries, by areas to share a ride, they offer their car to transport Moldovans arriving by train or plane to the polling station. They even raised funds for a group of 50 of Moldovan students studying in Denmark to support their costs of renting a van to go to the polling station in Berlin. Moldovans from all around the world will travel hundreds and thousands of kilometres to make a change, and they will be met by people they don’t know, but feel and think the same. This group has now above 20 000 participants. And all of them are going to vote for the pro-European candidate. “We’ve got 2 free places in our car, of course, for Sandu voters only”. The preference is obvious. They want a president that will improve the quality of life in Moldova and that will remove corruption and oligarchs from power. 

More than that, diaspora mobilization had a spill over effect. Now there are a few groups on Facebook with people that will vote in Moldova and aren’t able to reach the polling stations by themselves. These are people or students that live at the moment in a city, but have to vote in the one they have their residence in. Of course, all of them are for Sandu. 

I am not very optimistic, knowing the level of corruption in Moldova, but I hope this will be the day that the course of my little country will change, both because Maia Sandu has now a real chance to win, and because this chance is made possible by the unprecedented mobilization of the diaspora, that in turn mobilizes our fellow countrymen that are in Moldova.

2 comments: