Moldova’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the constitution should be amended to allow direct presidential elections. The first direct presidential election will have to take place by May 24, the court said in a March 4 note.
Moldova’s president is currently appointed by the parliament, which was due to elect a replacement for incumbent president Nicolae Timofti in March. The court’s decision will helps avert a major political crisis and parliamentary elections before term, since the ruling coalition does not hold the two-thirds majority required to appoint a president under the existing rules.
However, Moldova could be diverted from its European path as recent polls indicate an election could bring a pro-Russian candidate - possibly Socialist Party (PSRM) leader Igor Dodon - to the presidency.
The court’s decision was made in response to an inquiry from the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM), a pro-EU party that pulled out from the ruling coalition earlier this year. The party asked for clarification of apparently conflicting paragraphs in the constitution.
The existing constitution, as amended in 2000 by the parliament, could generate a constitutional crisis and produces an imperfect ruling system, the court explained in the note.
The amendment is aimed at bringing into harmony contradictory paragraphs of the constitution, the court concluded.
The 2000 amendments were made without full endorsement from the Constitutional Court, which the court said explains the contradictions within the texts. Further amendments were approved by the parliament after the court’s endorsement was obtained, and lawmakers did not ask for a final review by the Constitutional Court.
“The court has reactivated the specification included in the text of the constitution before 2000, in the sense of direct election of president,” the note concluded. The court also invalidated the law on presidential elections and re-enforced previous legal texts.
The main beneficiary of the court’s decision is likely to be the pro-Russian PSRM and the populist Partidul Nostru movement led by Balti mayor Renato Usatii, a very likely ally of the PSRM.
Dodon has already welcomed the decision. “What we have [repeatedly] asked for, was obtained,” he said, according to noi.md.
Previously, the ruling coalition, led by the Democratic Party, was expected to attempt to appoint a new president after Timofti’s term expires.