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Moldovan presidential candidate quits, boosting EU hopes

October 26, 2016

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — A key candidate in Moldova’s presidential election withdrew from the race Wednesday, giving a boost to a pro-European candidate in the former Soviet republic.

Marian Lupu, who is chairman of the Democratic Party, the biggest party in the pro-European governing coalition, said he was quitting the race to throw his support behind Maia Sandu, an ex-World Bank economist who vows to fight corruption.

Lupu said the party wanted “the elections to be won by a (pro)-European candidate who has the greatest chances.”

Sandu currently trails in the polls behind Igor Dodon, who favors closer relations with Russia.

Dodon gained popularity by posing standing bare-chested in icy waters, dressed in a traditional peasant’s smock in one of Moldova’s vineyards and also wearing fatigues and holding a rifle.

The Oct. 30 ballot is the first time Moldovans will elect a president by popular vote in 20 years.

No candidate is expected to secure a majority in the first round, in which case a runoff would be held two weeks later.

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