Politics of Moldova


Politics of Moldova

Politics of Moldova takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, whereby the Prime Minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The position of the break-away republic of Transnistria, relations with Romania and integration into the EU dominate the political agenda.

Developments since independence

Mircea Snegur was elected president of Moldova in October 1990 by the Parliament. A former Communist Party official, he endorsed independence and actively sought Western recognition. Moldova declared its independence from the Soviet Union in August 1991. However, Snegur's opposition to immediate reunification with Romania led to a split with the Moldovan Popular Front in October 1991 and to his decision to run as an independent candidate in a December 1991 presidential election. Running unopposed, he won after the Popular Front's efforts to organize a voter boycott failed.

Moldova's transition to democracy initially had been impeded by an ineffective Parliament, the lack of a new constitution, a separatist movement led by the Gagauz (Christian Turkic) minority in the south, and unrest in the Transnistria region on the left bank of the Dniester river, where a separatist movement assisted by uniformed Russian military forces in the region and led by supporters of the 1991 coup attempt in Moscow declared a "Dniester republic."

Progress has been made on all these fronts. In 1992, the government negotiated a cease-fire arrangement with Russian and Transnistrian officials (although tensions continue) and negotiations are ongoing. In February 1994, new legislative elections were held, and the ineffective Parliament that had been elected in 1990 to a 5-year term was replaced. A new constitution was adopted in July 1994. The conflict with the Gagauz minority was defused by the granting of local autonomy in 1994.

The February 1994 Parliamentary elections were conducted peacefully and received good ratings from international observers for their fairness. Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli was re-elected to his post in March 1994, as was Petru Lucinschi to his post as speaker of the Parliament. Authorities in Transnistria, refused to allow balloting there and discouraged the local population from participating. Inhabitants of the Gagauz separatist region did participate in the elections, however.

In the presidential elections of 1996, parliamentary speaker Petru Lucinschi surprised the nation with an upset victory over the incumbent, Mircea Snegur, in a second round of balloting. The elections were judged as free and fair by international observers.

President Lucinschi did manage to institute some very controversial reforms (perhaps the United States Assistance for International Development-funded "Pămînt" land privatization program was the most controversial). Indeed, his tenure was marked by constant legislative struggles with Moldova's Parliament. Several times, the Parliament considered votes of no confidence in the president's government, and a succession of moderate, pro-Western reform prime ministers were dismissed by a Parliament that increasingly favored the growing Communist Party faction.

In 2000, the Parliament passed a decree declaring Moldova a parliamentary republic, with the presidency henceforth to be decided not by popular vote, but by parliamentary vote. However, since no single candidate was able to garner a majority of votes, Lucinschi temporarily remained president. Later that year, when Parliament failed three times to successfully elect a new president, Lucinschi exercised his right to dissolve Parliament, calling for new parliamentary elections in the hope that a new Parliament would be more open to his initiatives - and, possibly, even rescind the decree on election of the president.

Widespread popular dissatisfaction with the government, the economy, and the reforms, however, led to a surprise at the polls in February 2001. In elections certified by international observers as free and fair, Moldova's populace voted overwhelmingly for the communists. The communist faction, which had previously occupied 40 of the Parliament's 101 seats since they were legally allowed to exist in 1998, jumped to 71 - a clear majority. Communist deputies were then able to elect Vladimir Voronin, the leader of their faction, as President.

Since his election, President Voronin has proceeded with Lucinschi's plans to privatize several important state-owned industries, and even has on occasion broken with his own party over important issues. He also also repeatedly announced plans to introduce measures to promote land consolidation in the countryside; a move outside observers have dubbed "recollectivizaiton." However, under President Voronin, relations with Romania have, at times, worsened. Tensions arose, when the President tried to introduce Russian as a second national language as well as insist that the Moldovan state language be called Moldovan. The Romanian language in Moldova has come to be called "Moldovan", despite a long historical controversy over how closely it resembles Romanian. In 2007 the Moldovan government did not allow Romania to open two consulates in major cities of Moldova, Bălţi and Cahul, that were intended to simplify the acquisition of Romanian visas for the Moldovan populaceFact|date=April 2007.

An attempt at re-introduction of Russian into Moldovan schools caused protests in the center of Chisinău, led by the nationalist CDPP party, and was aborted as the movement lost momentum. The Communist party has also attracted much criticism over the increasingly authoritarian rule in Chişinău Fact|date=April 2007.

Criticism

There is disagreement as to whether elections and politics in Moldova is carried out in a free and democratic climate on the part of certain organizations. The United States Senate has held committee hearings on irregularities that marred elections in Moldova, including arrests and harassment of opposition candidates, intimidation and suppression of independent media, and state run media bias in favor of candidates backed by the Communist-led Moldovan Government. [ [http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&sid=cp108hl6f5&refer=&r_n=sr106.108&db_id=108&item=&sel=TOC_86508& U.S. Library of Congress, Senate report 2004] ] Other critics have also referred to the Communist Party government as being authoritarian. [ [http://www.ifex.org/alerts/layout/set/print/layout/set/print/content/view/full/58518/ Statement of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)] ] [ [http://www.cpj.org/attacks02/europe02/moldova.html Press freedom report (CPJ)] ] Nevertheless, George W. Bush stated that: "We note and welcome Moldova's positive record since independence in conducting free and fair elections and in implementing democratic reforms." [ [http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/12/20021217-1.html Joint Statement by President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Voronin on U.S.-Moldovan Relations] U.S. State Department December 17, 2002. Retrieved 11-20, 2006.]

There have also been reports of politically motivated arrests and arrests without valid legal grounds. Such arrests are allegedly carried out against opponents of the Communist Party government of President Vladimir Voronin. In one case which was criticized by various Western organizations and individuals, opposition politician Valeriu Pasat was sentenced to ten years imprisonment on dubious grounds. [ [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2005/07/e65539ab-4280-4495-8965-d9d02d45c481.html Moldova: An Insider Looks At The Pasat Case] Radio Free Europe. July 4, 2005. Retrieved 11-15, 2006]

Transnistria

The population of the Moldovan region of Transnistria is approximately 30% Moldovan, 30% Ukrainian, and 30% Russian. After failing to establish control over the breakaway region in the War of Transnistria, Moldova offered a rather broad cultural and political autonomy to the region. The dispute has strained Moldova's relations with Russia. The July 1992 cease-fire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force composed of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units. Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the cease-fire is still in effect. The OSCE is also trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years.

Moldova had successfully joined the World Trade Organization and the Southeast European Stability Pact in 2001. Of primary importance have been the government's efforts to improve relations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and to comply with agreements negotiated in 2000 by the former government. Agreement in these areas was critical, because large government debts that were due in 2002 had to be rescheduled. The government has made concerted efforts to find ways to pay for Moldova's energy supplies.

Politically the government is committed to present a budget that will deal with social safety net items such as health, education, and increasing pensions and salaries. The Moldovan Government supported democracy and human rights in FY 2001. The country remains divided, with the Transnistrian region along the Ukrainian border controlled by separatist forces. The new communist government has shown increased determination to resolve the ongoing conflict, but has been unable to make any significant progress because of fundamental disagreements with the separatist authorities in Transnistria over the status of that region, as well as complex international political pressure exerted by the US, the OSCE, the EU and especially Russia.

Recent progress by Russia in destroying the weapons and munitions of the Organized Group of Russian Forces stationed in Transnistria have raised hopes that Russia intends to comply with the 1999 Istanbul Accords. In recent months, the leadership of the autonomous region of Gagauzia has become more vocal in its complaints that the Moldovan Government does not respect the region's statutory-enshrined autonomy.

Political parties and other groups publish newspapers, which often criticize government policies. There are several independent news services, radio stations, and an independent television station. Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government. Legislation passed in 1992 codified freedom of religion but required that religious groups be recognized by the government.

A 1990 Soviet law and a 1991 Parliamentary decision authorizing formation of social organizations provide for independent trade unions. However, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Moldova, successor to the former organizations of the Soviet trade union system, is the sole structure. It has tried to influence government policy in labor issues and has been critical of many economic policies. Moldovan labor law, which is based on former Soviet legislation, provides for collective bargaining rights.

Executive branch

President
Vladimir Voronin
PCRM
7 April 2001
-
Prime Minister
Zinaida Greceanîi
PCRM
31 March 2008The president is elected by the Parliament for a four-year term. According to the Moldovan constitution, the president, on consulting with the parliament, will designate a candidate for the office of prime minister; within 15 days from designation, the prime minister-designate will request a vote of confidence from the parliament regarding his/her work program and entire cabinet. The cabinet is selected by prime minister-designate, subject to approval of parliament.

Legislative branch

The Parliament ("Parlamentul") has 101 members, elected for a four year term by proportional representation. The president is elected for a four year term by parliament.

Political parties and elections

Judicial branch

Supreme Court; Constitutional Court is the sole authority of constitutional judicature

Administrative divisions

Moldova is divided into 32 raions, or "raioane", 5 municipalities (Chişinău, Bălţi and Bender, Comrat, Tiraspol), one autonomous, non-contiguous region (Gagauzia), and the breakaway region of Transnistria, the status of which is disputed.

International organization participation

ACCT, BIS, BSEC, CCC, CE, CEI, CIS, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, IDA, IFAD, IFC, ILO, IMF, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), ISO (correspondent), ITU, OPCW, OSCE, PFP, SECI, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO (applicant)

Notes

External links

* [http://www.elections2005.md/chisinau/ 2005 Chişinău mayor election]


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