Europe

Moldova: pro-Russian candidate leads ahead of runoff

  • The leader of Socialists Party Igor Dodon speaks to media after casting his vote during the presidential elections in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. Moldovans began voting Sunday for a president in an election that could move the former Soviet republic closer to Europe or push it back into Russia's orbit.(AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)

    The leader of Socialists Party Igor Dodon speaks to media after casting his vote during the presidential elections in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. Moldovans began voting Sunday for a president in an election that could move the former Soviet republic closer to Europe or push it back into Russia's orbit.(AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)  (The Associated Press)

  • The leader of the Action and Solidarity Party, Maia Sandu, speaks to media after casting her vote during the presidential elections in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. Moldovans began voting Sunday for a president in an election that could move the former Soviet republic closer to Europe or push it back into Russia's orbit.(AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)

    The leader of the Action and Solidarity Party, Maia Sandu, speaks to media after casting her vote during the presidential elections in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016. Moldovans began voting Sunday for a president in an election that could move the former Soviet republic closer to Europe or push it back into Russia's orbit.(AP Photo/Roveliu Buga)  (The Associated Press)

Final results from the first round of Moldova's presidential election show a pro-Russian front-runner with a strong lead over a pro-European candidate before the Nov. 13 runoff.

The Central Election Commission said Wednesday that Igor Dodon won 47.98 percent of the vote to Maia Sandu's 38.71 percent in Sunday's ballot, coming top in a field of nine.

Both candidates tapped into widespread anger about high-level corruption. Dodon promises to restore ties with Russia, while ex-World Bank economist Sandu pledges to crack down on corruption.

Moldova's president shapes the country's foreign policy and appoints judges but major decisions need approval from Parliament, where pro-European politicians have a majority.

However, this is the first time Moldovans have directly elected a president in 20 years, giving the post more authority and influence.