Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe; unemployment is high and the country is heavily dependent upon 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. Since the parliamentary elections of 2014 this pro-European Union agenda has continued to exist as the pro-European parties gained a majority of 55 seats in parliament, despite the Socialist Party’s victory of the election. However, the possibility that Moldova becomes a serious candidate to be a European member state in the near future is slim. This is partly due to the deterrent political cooperation within the government and the most dominant and urgent domestic conflict over the pro-Russian breakaway region Transnistria that must be resolved before Moldova can strengthen its ties with the European Union.
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- 3,554,150 million (World Bank 2015 est.)
- Governmental Type:
- Ruling Coalition:
- "Pro-European Coalition": Liberal-Democratic Party of Moldova, Democratic Party of Moldova
- Last Elections:
- 30 October and 13 November 2016 (presidential elections)
- Next Elections:
- November 2018 (parliamentary elections)
- 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 most recent was a political scandal over the falsification of former PM Chiril Gaburici's diplomas, who decided to resign from his position on 15 June 2015. A few months earlier a banking scandal brought people to the streets for mass demonstrations. In April 2015 the Central Bank of Moldova discovered that the three biggest banks of Moldova were involved in several financial transactions that led to the disappearance of sums of money worth a total of 1 billion dollars, which makes up 15 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Moldova. An investigation was started. It is not clear whether politicians were involved in this, but some analysts say the fraud was of a massive scale.
The parliamentary elections of 2014 also brought political instability. Three pro-European parties failed to form a coalition for a majority government. The Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) and the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) failed to come to an agreement with the Liberal Party (LP), hence the minority government was formed, backed up by the Communist Party. Only on 30 July 2015, a new pro-European majority government was sworn in, ending the uncertain political discourse. The political situation continued to be rather unstable since the Constitutional Referendum of 2010. The political crisis that occurred in 2013 after the dismissal of PM Vlad Filat by a motion of censure of the parliament, further complicated the situation in Moldova. However, regardless of the unstable political conditions, the Moldovan government managed to sign the planned far-reaching Association Agreement with the EU in the fall of 2014 and remains committed to its chosen pro-European course.
It should furthermore be noted that since the pro-democratic parties came to power in 2009, there has been some progress in areas of individual freedoms and democratization.
Constitutional referendum 2010
As the political deadlock continued on 5 September 2010, Moldova’s citizens were asked in a referendum whether their president should be elected by popular vote in the future, instead of the current vote by parliament. The turnout of the referendum, however, was not enough for it to be valid. According to the Moldovan Central Election Commission only 30.29 percent eligible voters cast their votes, while 33.33 percent was needed. In accordance with Moldovan regulation, interim President Mihai Ghimpu dissolved the parliament and called for early parliamentary elections on 21 November 2010. Ghimpu blamed the low turnout on the Communist Party, which had called for a boycott of the vote. The pro-Western Alliance for European Integration coalition was hoping for a positive outcome of the referendum. In the run-up to the vote the coalition had campaigned for the change as a way to break the political deadlock that left Moldova without a full-fledged president for 18 months.
In the latest parliamentary elections in 2014, the percentage of women candidates made up 32 percent. 21 women were elected to parliament, which makes up 20.79 percent. Although women are still underrepresented in Moldovan politics, there is a slight increase of representation since the general elections of 2010, when only 19 (18.8 percent) women were elected to parliament. Liberals turned out to be the worst at promoting women, while Communists promoted the most female candidates. In the 2011 local elections, most political parties met a self-imposed 30 percent quota for female candidates for local council seats, although not for the regional council or mayoral level. In the local elections in 2011, 18.5 percent of the elected local mayors were women. In addition, a parliamentary initiative to amend the Election Code to provide for a 30 percent quota for women candidates on party lists was at the stage of public consultations. Despite some progress, more efforts are needed to promote women to key positions.
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 the purposes of 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 an 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 percent of the total number of votes. The political parties must pass a 6 percent threshold and the electoral blocs that consist of two parties at least 9 percent. The electoral blocs consisting of more than two political parties must receive at least 12 percent 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 30 November 2014 parliamentary elections were held in Moldova. Official results of the election were announced on 5 December. Almost 56 percent of the population turned up for voting. The election was a victory for the pro-European parties and they currently have a majority in the 101-seat parliament with 45 percent of the votes (55 seats). The Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) gained 20.16 percent of the votes (23 seats), the Democratic Party (PDM) gained 15.18 percent of the votes (19 seats), and the Liberal Party (PL) gained 9.67 percent of the votes (13 seats). However, the winner of the elections was the Socialist Party (PSRM), which took a surprising lead with 20.51 percent of the votes (25 seats). The Communist Party (PCRM) received a significant loss and went from 42 to 21 seats in parliament.
Just days before the elections, the pro-Russian Homeland Party, the “Patria”, had been removed from the election by the election authorities of Moldova, the Central Elections Commission (CEC). The CEC said it decided to withdraw the party from the polls because the Homeland Party had received financial support from a foreign country, referring most likely to Russia. As a reaction, the leader of the party, Renato Usatyi, stated that this decision of the CEC was politically motivated and he left the country for Russia. He added that the money paid into the party’s account (about 424,000 Euros) was given unbeknownst to the movement by an almost unfamiliar offshore company. It was expected that if the Homeland Party was admitted to the election, it would have received 13 percent of the votes.
|Party||Votes||% of the votes||Number of seats|
|Party of Socialists||327,910||20.51 %||25|
|Liberal Democratic Party||322,188||20.16 %||23|
|Party of Communists||279,372||17.48 %||21|
|Democratic Party of Moldova||252,489||15.80 %||19|
|Liberal Party||154,507||9.67 %||13|
The results of the election have ensured the probable continuation of Moldova’s integration with the European Union within a free-trade zone, despite the critique of the pro-Russian parties. However, due to the narrow majority of the pro-European parties it will be difficult to uphold and endorse a pro-European Union agenda with the presence of pro-Russian parties in parliament. The election results also demonstrated deep divisions within Moldovan society on the question of the country’s external course.
A coalition was not formed until 23 January 2015. The negotiations were originally between the leaders of the three pro-European parties - the PLDM, PDM and PL. Nevertheless, on 23 January 2015, the leaders of the parties announced that they were unable to come to an agreement with the PL. As a result, the PDM and the PLDM signed an agreement to form a minority governing coalition. In this cabinet the PLDM will hold 10 seats and the PDM 8 seats. Moreover, the PLDM will name the prime minister and the PDM can name the parliament chair. As to the ministries, the PLDM gets the Ministry of Finance, Justice, Interior, Foreign Affairs and European Integration, Defense, Agriculture and Food Industry, Environment, Education and Health. The PDM gets the Ministry of Economy, Reintegration, Regional Development and Construction, Transport and Road Infrastructure, Culture, Labor, ICT and Youth and Sport. The minority coalition will have to gather support from opposition MPs for each of its proposals.
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 percent 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 percent 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-organized. 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 polarized 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 in a professional manner and, overall, election day procedures were positively assessed. Despite some efforts to prepare for a high turnout in specific polling stations abroad and for 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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- Central Europe Review
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