Moldova’s president nominates independent prime minister candidate

Moldova’s president nominates independent prime minister candidate
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest January 15, 2016

Moldovan president Nicolae Timofti nominated independent candidate Ion Paduraru as prime minister designate on January 14, pointing out that the Democratic Party’s (PD) candidate, Vlad Plahotniuc, no longer enjoys the support of a parliamentary majority.

The president’s strong stance risks sparking a political crisis, which could lead to early elections or even the impeachment of the president.

Paduraru has to come up with his cabinet by January 29. Unless lawmakers endorse him and his team, Timofti will have to call early elections. However, PD could take steps to dismiss President Timofti before that, which would complicate the situation.

Seven MPs of the Liberal Democrat party (PLDM) withdrew earlier in the day from the fragile and unstable 56MP-strong majority formed by PD and the Liberal Party (PL), with the support of 14 MPs who pulled out from the communist party PCRM, one independent MP and the seven PLDM MPs.

Democratic Party president Marian Lupu said that Timofti's nomination pushes the country to early elections. The political majority still exists in parliament and further steps will be decided on January 15, Lupu said, quoted by noi.md.

The nomination of Ion Paduraru is likely to result in early elections since there is no majority behind him. Like Ion Sturza, previously nominated by Timofti for the position earlier this month, Paduraru is a highly credible politician and professional, and a previous member of the government as minister of justice, but he enjoys thin political support. He has a similar political profile to Sturza, who failed to get the backing of lawmakers.

“When nominating him [Paduraru], I have considered that the majority coalition in parliament no longer held the necessary number of votes, because seven of the 56 MPs had pulled out and the Constitutional Court decided that [only] a majority of 51MPs is entitled to nominate a prime minister candidate,” Timofti explained, quoted by Timpul daily.

The seven MPs of PLDM, which had expressed support for PD and for controversial oligarch Plahotniuc the day before, reconsidered their position on January 14. They announced in a press conference that they are withdrawing and are no longer part of the majority coalition, noi.md reported. The seven had previously asked PD to make another nomination for prime minister, after Timofti initially rejected the nomination of Plahotniuc on January 13. Despite this, PD has constantly supported Plahotniuc’s candidacy.

Timofti had earlier rejected the candidacy of Plahotniuc for prime minister, saying he failed to meet the required integrity standards, a Presidency’s note explained.

President Timofti invoked a Constitutional Court decision, in 2013, upon which the political mandate should be based on robust integrity. Timofti also mentioned the fact that parliament has previously endorsed a no-confidence motion against Plahotniuc, based on alleged involvement in illegal activities.

The refusal ignited a direct and radical conflict between President Timofti and PD’s deputy president Plahotniuc, who is broadly seen as the owner of the party and controlling the judiciary system.

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