CHISINAU, Moldova | Moldovans head to polls, opt between Moscow and West

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Moldovans voted Sunday in a parliamentary election in the former Soviet republic, a ballot that could deepen the split between pro-Western and pro-Russian forces.

The election in the nation wedged between Romania and Ukraine comes amid concerns about corruption and the erosion of democracy. The ruling alliance headed by the nominally pro-European Democratic Party has lost support over rampant corruption and falling living standards.

The vote is a three-way contest between the broadly pro-Russian opposition Socialists, whose former leader Igor Dodon became Moldova’s president in 2016, the Democrats and a pro-European group, ACUM.

More than 3 million voters are eligible to elect representatives for the next four years to the 101-seat legislature. Parties need to win 6 percent of the overall ballot to enter Parliament.

ACUM party leader Maia Sandu told The Associated Press this week that the elections were “the most undemocratic in the history of Moldova,” and warned that voters may stage demonstrations to “defend our vote.”

Dodon, a government opponent, also warned of unrest due to possible voter fraud.

The voting system has been changed in what critics say is a ploy to help the two main parties — the Socialists and the Democrats — to carve up influence.

Some 340 international observers from 38 countries are monitoring the ballot.

By Associated Press