Pro-Russian incumbent Igor Dodon is bidding for a second term against former Prime Minister Maia Sandu.
Moldova’s constitutional court has cancelled a state of emergency introduced to stem the coronavirus pandemic, enabling President Maia Sandu to dissolve parliament and call for an early election on July 11.
“Through this decision we have paved the way for citizens to be able to choose a new parliament that will serve the interests of the country and the people,” Sandu said after the court’s ruling on Wednesday.
The move could help end a tense standoff between the pro-European Union president and a parliament that is dominated by lawmakers aligned with her pro-Russia predecessor, Igor Dodon.
Sandu, the country’s first female president, won the presidential election in November 2020 but has accused parliament of trying to sabotage her presidency and curb her powers. Twice, the Socialist-led parliamentary majority refused to appoint prime ministers that Sandu had proposed.
Wedged between Ukraine and NATO member Romania, Moldova has long been divided over closer ties with the EU or maintaining traditional ties with Russia.
In March, the parliament voted to introduce a 60-day state of emergency in order to combat rising COVID-19 infections, which blocked Sandu from calling for early elections.
The president now hopes that the July 11 elections will lead to a parliamentary majority.
“Power is now in the hands of the people … I trust that our citizens will choose the right path to creating a developed and democratic state where people can live in peace and wellbeing,” she said on Wednesday.
Moldova, home to some 3.5 million people and one of the poorest countries in Europe, has teetered near economic collapse in recent years. Dodon looked to Russia for aid while Sandu presented closer integration with the EU as a way out of the crisis.