Moldova facing new chaos
Moldova, the country that has recently become the world record holder for anarchy, is in the midst of yet another political crisis. The Liberal Democratic Party led by Prime Minister Vladimir (Vlad) Filat has left the ruling coalition.
Political affairs in Moldova are reminiscent of an endless soap opera with repeated early parliamentary elections and failure to elect a president for three years. The deputies managed to form a government that has been headed by Filat for three and a half years. It appears that the last "bastion of stability" in the endless power reshuffle is ready to fall.
It all began with a pogrom in Chisinau on April 7, 2009. The demonstrators, many of whom carried Romanian flags, were not satisfied with the results of the parliamentary elections where the Communist Party won a constitutional majority and 61 (out of 101) deputy seats. Under the pressure from the people and the Romanian authorities, the votes were recounted, and the Communists have lost the parliamentary majority.
This was followed by three attempts to elect a representative of the Communist Party Zinaida Greceanii a president, but she did not receive enough parliamentary votes. Representatives of the opposition coalition from pro-Western and pro-Romanian parties did not give Greceanii a single vote. Meanwhile, the term of the former President Vladimir Voronin had expired. Early elections were called in July of 2009, less than four month since the previous election.
The voting results led to a change in the ruling coalition. Communists have lost even a simple majority, and became the opposition. The "Alliance for European Integration" that consisted of four parties came to power. The acting president was Mihai Ghimpu, the leader of the Liberal Party famous for his Russophobe speeches and desire to join Moldova to Romania. The Prime Minister was the leader of the Liberal Democrats, Vladimir Filat. A simple majority was sufficient for his approval.
Moldavia has never obtained a full-functioning President as the ruling coalition could not secure 61 votes.
Democratic Party leader and former communist Marian Lupu put forward his candidacy twice, but his former colleagues were adamant. Moldova lived without a president for a year. In September of 2010, a referendum on changing the constitution was held, according to which the responsibility for electing the president was to be shifted to the people. However, plebiscite failed because of the low turnout.
In November of 2010, new parliamentary elections were held. The Alliance for European Integration consisting of the Liberal Democratic, Democratic, and Liberal parties increased the number of seats. Moderate Lupu replaced ardent Russophobe Ghimpu as the speaker, Filat remained Prime Minister. Yet, this was not enough to elect a president, and the candidacy of Lupu was consistently rejected by his former colleagues. By late 2011, Moldova has broken all world records in anarchy.
Finally, on March 16, 2012, the presidential election saga was over. Thanks to the votes of the breakaway Communist deputies, pro-Western candidate Nikolae Timofti became new head of state. It looked like Moldova found its President, Prime Minister and the parliamentary majority. It would seem that the mess on the top has gradually receded. However, in early 2013 a new crisis is looming over the country.
In January, an incident in the reserve "Gospodarsky Forest", where during a hunting accident involving high-ranking officials a businessman from Chisinau was killed, became public knowledge. According to unofficial information, the fatal shot was made by Attorney General Valery Zubko, representing the Democratic Party. The opposition demanded Zubko's resignation, and he resigned. However, the criminal case was brought not against Zubko but Andrei Usatov, Filat's party fellow.
The Prime Minster could not accept it. On February 13th he announced withdrawal of his Liberal Democratic Party from the ruling coalition. He stated that a dirty campaign was launched against him by a tycoon, leader of the Democratic Party Vladimir Plahotniuc. Considering that Filat's associates have 31 seats in the parliament and are the dominant party of the governing alliance, we may expect early elections. This would be fourth parliamentary elections in four years, in addition to countless presidential elections.
Of course, there is a chance that the election may be avoided, which would require that the Liberal Democrats unite with the oppositional Communists. However, this would be similar to an affair between a snake and a hedgehog. The right party of Filat focused on the EU (and even NATO) will unite with the left who (at least on paper) are in favor of closer ties with Russia and the Customs Union. This alliance will not last long, and therefore, Moldovans will have to quickly prepare for parliamentary elections.
This mayhem in the country leadership poses a threat for the Moldovan statehood. Moldovan politicians do not want to let Transnistria go, but who Tiraspol authorities would negotiate with in Chisinau? On the other hand, hundreds of thousands of Moldovans have already obtained Romanian passports. The number of supporters of unification with Romania could grow if only because of low tolerance for the existing chaos. Romania also has its issues, but it is still better off and more stable than Moldova.
It is clear that both parting with Transnistria and unification with Romania would involve certain stress. There will be plenty of people who disagree with both options. Instead of strengthening Moldova, its politicians are squabbling and only weakening the country.