Country Risk

Moldova’s constitutional crisis establishing two parallel governments likely to result in conflicting governance and policy inconsistency

11 June 2019

ovan police forces stand guard at the government headquarters in Chisinau city on 10 June 2019. Source: Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images

Moldova's Constitutional Court on 8 June ruled to invalidate the formation of the cabinet that was approved by the parliament earlier on the same day, dismiss the parliament, suspend President Igor Dodon, and appoint the acting prime minister, Pavel Filip, as interim president. Filip announced new parliamentary elections for 6 September.

  • The attempt to form a new ruling coalition was aimed at removing the previous government controlled by politician and businessperson Vlad Plahotniuc. The pro-Russian Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (Partidul Socialiştilor din Republica Moldova: PSRM) and pro-EU ACUM electoral bloc have 35 seats and 26 seats, respectively, in the 101-seat unicameral parliament. They joined forces despite their ideological differences to attempt to prevent an early election if no new coalition had been established by 9 June. The parliament immediately approved the new PSRM-ACUM cabinet, with ACUM co-leader Maia Sandu as prime minister, which would have replaced that of the Democratic Party of Moldova (Partidul Democrat din Moldova: PDM) of Plahotniuc, which had been in power since 2015. In an unprecedented move for Moldovan politics, the European Union, Russia, and the United States announced their support for the PSRM-ACUM coalition, suggesting consensus among key foreign policy stakeholders on Plahotniuc's removal. Likewise, the PSRM-ACUM found common ground in their criticism of alleged corruption at all levels of government, and the alleged "state capture" by the PDM was sufficient to bridge the divide. Alleged corruption at all levels of officialdom is widely reported to be the primary day-to-day obstacle encountered by foreign investors. Demands for bribes and kickbacks from low-level officials are reported to be allegedly routine; in general, the worst-affected sectors are reported to be customs, the police, local administrations, tax collection, and the medical and educational sectors. At higher levels, bribes are likely to be demanded in exchange for the awarding of a licence or business permit or the winning of a contract, as well as for the expedition of the award process.

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