Voting started at 07:00 local time in the election held due to the end of the 4-year term of the current Gagauz Autonomous Region President Irina Vlah.
It is expected that 92,516 voters will go to the polls in 65 election centers in the Gagauz Autonomous Region to determine the president, who is a permanent member of the Moldovan government.
The polls will close at 21.00 local time in the election, followed by 75 foreign and 21 local observers from Turkey, Azerbaijan, USA, Ukraine, England as well as the European Union (EU).
In addition to the president, two members will be elected for the People’s Assembly (People’s Assembly) from the Valkaneş and Çok-Meydan constituencies in the Gagauz Autonomous Region.
Presidential candidates need to know Gagauz Turkish
According to the election law of the Gagauz Autonomous Region, presidential candidates must be over 35 years old, residing in Moldova and know Gagauz Turkish.
If any of the candidates does not receive more than 50 percent of the vote, a second round will be held in the presidential election. The second round is due two weeks later.
If the turnout is below 50 percent, the election will be deemed invalid and will be held again two weeks later.
Candidates in the election
In the election in Gagauz Autonomous Region, 8 candidates, 7 independent and 1 party, are competing for the presidential seat.
In the presidential election held every four years, Irina Vlah, who was elected twice in succession, cannot participate in the presidential race this time due to the election law.
Among the candidates are former President of the Gagauz Autonomous Region and Moldovan Ambassador to Ankara Dmitri Croitor and former President Mihail Formuzal.
In addition, Evgeniya Gutsul, nominated by Grigoriy Uzun, one of the parties in the Moldovan Parliament, supported by the Socialist Party led by the former President of the country, Igor Dodon, and Evgeniya Gutsul, nominated by the Shor Party, are also competing for the presidential seat.
Gagauz Autonomous Assembly “People’s Gathering” members Viktor Petrov, Nikolay Dudoglo, Sergey Chimpoesh and Sergey Chernev are also taking part in the election race.
The ruling Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), founded by Moldovan President Maya Sandu, did not nominate a candidate in the presidential election.
All of the candidates participating in the election emphasized “peace and stability in the region” in the election campaign.
Georgiy Tabunshchik was the first president of the Gagauz Autonomous Region, which was established on December 23, 1994 within the borders of the Republic of Moldova.
Dmitri Croitor was elected president in 1999 and Tabunshchik again in 2002.
Mihail Formuzal was the president in the 2006-2015 period, while the current Gagauz Autonomous President Irina Vlah won the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections.
Establishment of Gagauz Autonomous Region
The autonomy of Gagauzia was officially recognized by the Moldovan government, after the Moldovan parliament adopted a new constitution in 1994 that gave autonomy to the Gagauz people.
The region, which has no territorial integrity, consists of 3 cities and 26 villages, the capital Comrat, Çadır Lunga and Valkaneş.
In the Gagauz Autonomous Region with a population of approximately 120 thousand, the people speak Gagauz Turkish.
Gagauz people are worried about losing their autonomy rights that they gained in 1994 with the contribution of Turkey.
Christian Gagauz Turks from the Oghuz tribe serve as an important link in the relations between Turkey and Moldova, which have reached the level of strategic partnership.