10:18 Oct. 31, 2016
The pro-Russian candidate, Igor Dodon, had the advantage over his opponent but failed to win 51% of votes
Moldova's presidential election will go to the second round.
With 99.5 percent of votes counted, results showed a pro-Russian socialist candidate had the advantage over his main opponent but fell short of winning sufficient support to achieve all-out victory.
Igor Dodon, who wants to reverse Moldova's course toward European integration, had won 48.5 percent, and his main pro-European challenger, Maia Sandu, had 38.2 percent.
Dodon needed 51 percent of votes to avoid a run-off on Nov. 13.
With turnout put at about 48%, Sandu said it was vital to encourage more young voters to take part in the second round of the election.
Leader of the Action and Solidarity Party, Maia Sandu, casts her vote during the presidential elections in Chisinau, Moldova, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2016 (AP photo)
"Today the young had a small turnout, I think it happened because the authorities impeded them from doing so. We will do everything to remove such obstacles in the second round, so that you could come to vote in larger numbers," she said.
Dodon thanked his supporters, adding that the vote showed Moldova was ready to elect him as the next leader.
"Our victory is inevitable. Everyone should understand this, including our political opponents. So I advise some of them - let us not rush and do all the counting to the end," he said.
Igor Dodon, leader of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova, talks to journalists after voting in the 2016 presidential election, at a polling station in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau (Getty Images)
Sunday's poll was the first direct presidential election in Moldova for 20 years.
Both the European Union together with the U.S. and Russia seek to have more influence over the impoverished agricultural landlocked nation of 3.5 million, located between EU member Romania and Ukraine.
Based on reporting by Reuters