Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Unemployment is high and the country is heavily dependent on remittances from thousands of Moldovans working abroad. A large part of the Moldovan population is Romanian-speaking, although there are also Russian and Ukrainian minorities. The communists were the ruling party in the former Soviet state from 1998 until 2009. Since 2009, Moldova became a more pro-Western state. Moldova currently aspires to join the European Union; the country has implemented the first three-year Action Plan within the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and has signed a far-reaching Association Agreement with the EU in 2014 that came into force on July 1st 2016.
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- 4,035,736 million (United Nations 2020 est.)
- Governmental Type:
- Ruling Coalition:
- Socialist-Liberal Coalition: Socialist Party and Now Platform (ACUM)
- Last Elections:
- 24 February 2019 (Parliamentary elections)
- Next Elections:
- 1 November 2020 (Presidential election)
- Sister Parties:
- Democratic Party of Moldova
Moldova has experienced some political crises over the past few years, which have caused instability and mistrust of the population in the authorities.
The recent parliamentary elections caused the country to tumble in a political crisis. In the parliamentary elections held on 24 February 2019, four parties came out on top: the Socialists, followed by the Democratic Party (PDM), then the ACUM electoral bloc made up of the Dignity and Truth Platform Party (DA) and the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS), and finally the Șor (the party of a convicted oligarch). None had a majority so what ensued was months of negotiations, with no one sitting down to the negotiating table until several high-profile officials from the EU, US and Russian Federation visited the Socialist and ACUM leaders. Moreover, this election was the first one that was held under a parallel voting system instead of the closed-list proportional system that was used in previous elections.
The ACUM and Socialist formed an unlikely alliance to block the PDM and its powerful tycoon reclaiming power. The PDM reacted ferociously, using its power to stop the coalition from taking office. The PDM used the constitutional court to temporarily strip President Dodon from his power, appointing PDM's Pavel Filip as President. Filip issued a decree which dissolved parliament and called for early elections on September the 6th. Lawmakers in parliament declared that Moldova's state and legal institutions had been seized by oligarchs, demanding the resignation of several top officials. After a long stalemate, the PDM resigned from power on 14 June. Vice president of PDM, Vladimir Cebotari, stated that the PDM stepped down to avoid escalation. Dodon called the resignation an important victory, urging the constitutional court to accept the decision, warning that he would ask parliament to replace the court's judges if it failed to do so. The USA, EU and Russia all expressed their support for the new government, which is formed by an unlikely alliance. On June 15, prime minister Sandu said that the new government aimed to improve ties with the EU but that the country was also open to boosting economic and trade cooperation with Russia. The current coalition is an unstable one with lots of conflicting interests, but also a historic one since it was able to successfully challenge the iron grip of the oligarch backed DMP party. The next parliamentary election is supposed to be held in 2023.
In the parliamentary elections of 2014, the percentage of women candidates came up to 32 per cent. 21 women were elected to parliament, which totals to 20.79 per cent of the parliament. Although women are still underrepresented in Moldovan politics, this marks a slight increase of representation from the general elections of 2010, when only 19 (18.8 per cent) women were elected to parliament. Liberals turned out to be the worst at promoting women, while Communists promoted the most female candidates.
Across Moldova, women are underrepresented as voters and in leading positions in the government, politics, business and civil society – despite their proven abilities as leaders and agents of change, and their right to participate equally in democratic governance. Women's representation in Moldovan politics and decision-making is below international benchmarks. Women belonging to certain minority groups appear to face discriminatory practices that affect their free access to public space. The Law on Ensuring Equality, which came in at the beginning of 2013, does not include sexual orientation, gender identity, or state of health as grounds for discrimination. The OSCE Gender Advisor noted that the law preventing domestic violence is poorly implemented in practice. Human trafficking remains a serious problem as well. The country is a major source for women and girls trafficked abroad for forced prostitution, mainly to Russia and other parts of the former Soviet Union, Turkey, Romania, Southeast Europe, the Middle East, and the European Union.
Moldova is a parliamentary representative democratic republic. According to its constitution, the parliament is the supreme representative organ and the single legislative authority of the state. The parliament is a unicameral assembly with 101 seats whose members are elected by proportional representation every four years. To enter the Moldovan parliament, independent candidates must obtain 3 per cent of the total number of votes. The political parties must pass a 6 per cent threshold and the electoral blocs that consist of two parties at least 9 per cent. The electoral blocs consisting of more than two political parties must receive at least 12 per cent of the votes. The “lost votes” of the parties that did not pass the threshold are subsequently distributed proportionally among those who did.
The president (head of state) is elected by the parliament for a four-year term and is limited to two terms. To be elected as president, at least three-fifths of the MPs, or 61 deputies, must vote in favour of the candidate. If the parliament cannot agree about a presidential candidate, the parliament must be dissolved and early elections must be held.
On 24 February 2019 parliamentary elections were held in Moldova. The results were confirmed on 9 March. Voter turnout was low with only 49 per cent of the people turning up to vote. The elections resulted in a victory for the Socialist Party which gained 35 seats of the 101 in total. The Democratic Party came second with 30 seats, followed by the ACUM coalition with 26 seats. The Șor Party entered the parliament for the first time, gaining 7 seats in total. The elections resulted in a historical loss for the Liberal and Communist party; both didn't reach the 6 per cent threshold thus failing to enter parliament.
|Party||% of the votes||National Seats||Constituency Seats||Total Seats||Seats compared to the last election|
|Party of Socialists||31.15%||18||17||35||+10|
|Democratic Party of Moldova||23.62%||13||17||30||+11|
|Party of Communists||3.75%||0||0||0||-21|
|Anti-Maffia Popular Movement Party||0.61%||0||-||0||0|
|Democracy at Home||0.32%||0||0||0||0|
|Party of Regions||0.26%||0||-||0||New|
|National Liberal Party||0.24%||0||0||0||0|
|Ecologist Green Party||0.23%||0||0||0||0|
|Hope Professionals' Movement Party||0.20%||0||0||0||New|
|People's Will Party||0.19%||0||-||0||New|
The election results caused a political crisis, with both the ACUM and Socialist party not willing to work together with the Democratic party. None had a majority so what ensued was months of negotiations, with no one sitting down at the negotiating table. The ACUM and Socialist party differ on many grounds, but after consultation with EU and Russian officials, they were able to form a coalition. This coalition was determined to stop the Democratic party, which they allege is backed by oligarchs, from getting into the office once again. The PDM reacted ferociously, using its power to stop the coalition from taking office. The PDM used the constitutional court to temporarily strip President Dodon from his power, appointing PDM's Pavel Filip as President. Filip issued a decree which dissolved parliament and called for early elections on September the 6th. After a long stalemate, the PDM resigned from power on 14 June. On June 15, prime minister Sandu (PAS) said that the new government aimed to improve ties with the EU but that the country was also open to boosting economic and trade cooperation with Russia.
The fall of the Sandu government
Maia Sandu and her cabinet were inaugurated in the middle of the constitutional crisis on June 8th 2019, after months of negotiations. After the election, no party obtained an outright majority, thus making it necessary to form a coalition of two of the three biggest parties in order to gain a majority and elect a prime minister. This, however, proved very difficult. According to the Moldovan constitution, a new government needs to be formed no longer than 90 days after the results of the election are validated (in this case this happened on the 9th of March). When on June 7th a government had yet to be formed, the Constitutional Court decided that new elections should be held because still no government was formed 90 days after the election (24th of February). This triggered the formation of a coalition. ACUM platform and the Socialist party came to an agreement in which Sandu was to become prime minister and form the government. The leader of the Socialist party, Zinaida Greceanii, would become the speaker, leaving the Democratic Party, who felt betrayed, out. However, the Constitutional Court ruled this new government as unconstitutional and urged President Igor Dodon to dissolve it. President Dodon refused to dissolve the government because according to the constitution, the 90-day deadline was met. In response, the deputy of the Democratic Party, Sergiu Sirbu, filed a request to the Constitutional Court to dismiss President Dodon for his inability to dissolve the government. Since the Constitutional Court is considered to be under the influence of the Democratic Party (led by oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc), the request was granted on the 9th of June. President Dodon was removed from his position and replaced by prime minister Pavel Filip. Filip then dissolved the government and announced that early elections would be held on September 6th.
The coalition called the decision of Filip illegal and refused to step down. This effectively meant that Moldova had two governments that worked parallel to each other. On June 14th, just 5 days after his appointment, Filip decided to step down from the government to create political stability, but he still demanded new elections and refused to acknowledge the Sandu government. The day after on the 15th of June, the Constitutional Court decided to repeal their decisions that triggered the crisis. Vladimir Plahotniuc, the leader of the Democratic Party, reportedly fled the country a day earlier. President Dodon was reinstated as President of Moldova, with Sandu as prime minister. On the 20th of June the president of the Constitutional Court, Mihai Poalelungi, resigned from office followed by an entire group of constitutional court judges on the 16th of June. Dodon and Sandu stated that they would restore the integrity of the Constitutional Court by electing independent judges.
However, the government was ousted on the 12th of November of the same year after a vote of no confidence. The government was replaced by a government lead by Ion Chicu. The reason Sandu's government collapsed was to do with the draft law assumed by the government. This, to delegate a part of its plenary powers to the prime minister, proposing a shortlist with candidates for the Prosecutor General's position. President Dodon stated that by doing this the ACUM bloc violated the agreement made with the PSRM which clearly stipulated that the applicants for the position of Prosecutor General are selected by an expert committee.
On 13 November 2016, in the second round of the presidential elections, Igor Dodon was elected new Head of State. The openly pro-Russian Dodon (Socialist Party and former economy minister in the communist government from 2006 to 2009) acquired 52.29 per cent of the votes against the pro-European candidate Maia Sandu (Action and Solidarity Party and former World Bank official and education minister from 2012 to 2015), who received 47.71 per cent of the votes. Such a result could influence the ongoing EU integration efforts of Moldova. Dodon plans to conduct a referendum on withdrawing from the Association Agreement with the EU and joining the Eurasian Customs Union instead. Good relations with Romania and Ukraine have been claimed to be of interest to Dodon as well, even though he supported the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Sandu, in her turn, supported the withdrawal of several thousands of Russian “peacekeeping” troops from the separatist Trans-Dniester region.
Arta Dade, head of the mission of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE ODIHR) claimed the first round of the presidential elections (30 October 2016) were open, transparent and well-organised. Among the disadvantages, observers noted widespread abuse of state resources, biased media coverage and a lack of transparency in campaign finances. A number of gaps and ambiguities also remain collection and verification of candidate support signatures, the financing and conduct of the campaign, effective electoral dispute resolution, enforcement of media provisions, and the conduct of a possible second round of presidential elections.
In the second round (13 November 2016), the OSCE ODIHR mission saw competitiveness and respect for fundamental freedoms. The campaign, featuring televised debates, allowed the two candidates to address voters directly. However, increasingly polarised media coverage, harsh and intolerant rhetoric, and continued instances of abuse of administrative resources detracted from the process. Complaints, mostly related to campaign finances, were not resolved in a timely or consistent manner. Technical preparations for the second round were generally administered professionally and, overall, election day procedures were positively assessed. Despite some efforts to prepare for a high turnout in specific polling stations abroad and voters from Transdniestria, many citizens were unable to vote because the ballots allocated to these polling stations proved insufficient.
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Moldova’s court approves of referendum to amend constitution as trust in politics hits an all-time low
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