20/6/19 UPDATE: The political crisis is over as the Democratic Party have resigned and accepted the new coalition’s right to govern. An update written on the (American) International Republican Institute blog gives one take on what has happened.
Moldova has been plunged into political crisis after the Constitutional Court dimissed President Igor Dodon and handed his powers to Pavel Filip who promptly dissolved parliament and called fresh elections. However the Parliament has refused to recognise the court’s ruling and has recognised the new government of Maia Sandu, former World Bank adviser and Education Minister.
The origins of this crisis are the inconclusive elections held in April. At that time no party won an overrall majority and negotiations started to form a coalition government. But with three very different political forces in the country – Dodon’s pro-Russian Socialist Party, Filip’s Democratic Party and Sandu’s pro-Western ACUM bloc – this looked an impossible task. This was exacerbated by the close result of the election in which the Socialists won 35 seats, the Democratic Party 30 seats and ACUM 26 seats of the 101 seat legislature.
In Saturday, Dodon and Sandu announced an unlikely alliance with Sandu being named Prime Minister and a Socialist Party MP taking the Speaker’s chair. This alliance appear aimed at keeping the oligarch leader of the Democratic Party – Vladimir Plahotniuc – out of power. However the Constitutional Court ruled that the coalition had not been formed before the mandated time limit of 7th June and declared Dodon stripped of his office as he had failed to call the fresh elections required when no government could be formed in time. Filip was named President and he immediately called elections for September 6th.
With Parliament refusing to recognise the authority of Filip, the stand-off threatens disorder in the country which is already split with an unrecognised territory of Transnistria claiming independence. Transnistria is home to a vast Cold War Russian arms dump which is guarded by Russian forces. Regarded as a frozen conflict, there is concern that instability in the country could lead to a return to arms. Both the EU and NATO have appealed for calm.
You can find a preview I wrote about the inconclusive elections here.