A record number of 262,739
Moldovans voted from the diaspora, compared to 138,720 in 2016, according to Moldova’s Central Election Committee
. They represented 15% of the total number of voters, and with their preference for Maia Sandu (93%), impressively underscored her clear victory.
Inside the country, Sandu won with 52% but thanks to the diaspora vote, she came out a victor with 58%. A fact that matters all the more, since now ex-president Igor Dodon called the diaspora “a parallel electorate
”. His phrase (which originally was used in Romania by the PSD party after Iohhanis became president with the support of the diaspora) swung back around like a boomerang: it enraged the diaspora.
Moldovans all over Europe and the US gathered at polling stations at 6 or 7 in the morning, after some of them had traveled hundreds of kilometers. Due to their overwhelming mobilisation, several polling stations in France, Germany and the UK even ran out of ballot papers.
There’s a dark side to this story too. Domestically, the biggest age group showing up at the polling stations was 56-70 years old – accounting for almost a third of all votes. Meanwhile, half of the voters from the diaspora are 26-40 years old. This striking difference represents the worrying trend of brain drain, which has defined Moldova for the last 20 years.
However, migration hasn’t just been about economics. It was hope for change that mobilised the diaspora on November 15. So it is crucial that policies in their support are made and they become more than a source of remittance and votes.