Moldovan minority government fails to win vote of confidence

By bne IntelliNews February 12, 2015

bne IntelliNews -


Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca has failed to win a vote of confidence for his minority coalition government, more than two months after general elections gave a narrow victory to pro-European Union parties.

The coalition will now make a second attempt to rally support for its government among opposition MPs. A second failure would result in early elections, precipitating a deep political crisis in Moldova.

The proposed cabinet received only 42 votes on February 12, nine fewer than needed, TV station reported. It was backed only by MPs from the minority coalition formed by the Liberal Democrat Party of Moldova (PLDM) and the Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM).

President Nicolae Timofti is now expected to nominate a new prime minister designate, who could be either Leanca, currently Moldova's acting prime minister, or another candidate. The nominee is expected to be from the same coalition, though this is not a requirement.

There is some ambiguity about how long Moldova has to form a new government. Under the constitution, if the parliament fails to appoint a prime minister within 45 days of the first negative vote, the president can dissolve parliament, explains. However, according to an alternative interpretation issued by the Constitutional Court in October 2013, the new cabinet has to be endorsed within 90 days of the date when the previous cabinet’s term expired. Under the latter stipulation, the new cabinet would have to be endorsed by March 9.

The February 12 vote opens the door for the continuation of negotiations, fruitless so far, between the three pro-EU parties represented in parliament. There is speculation that the coalition will manage to bring on board a fellow pro-EU party, the Liberal Party of Moldova (PL), for its second attempt at forming a government, albeit one with a fragile parliamentary majority.

In a last minute statement before the vote on Leanca’s cabinet, PL leader Mihai Ghimpu asked for the vote to be postponed until February 17, but parliament speaker Andrian Candu rejected his request.

The PLDM-PDM coalition had also looked to the Communist Party of Moldova (PCRM) for support, after the party backed its nomination of Candu as speaker. However, policy differences between the coalition and PCRM are substantial. While Leanca and other members of the coalition want to press ahead towards EU integration, the PCRM wants to revise Moldova’s 2014 EU Association Agreement and to maintain ties with Russia.

As a result, the coalition is expected to become more flexible in its negotiations with the PL, which was originally expected to join the government. In earlier negotiations, the PL demanded significant representation in the public administration, as well as radical reforms that are broadly reflected in Leanca’s governing programme published on February 11.

The PL remains the most natural partner of the minority coalition, but the lack of internal reforms within the PLDM and PDM could be an obstacle to agreement between the three parties. While Ghimpu did not openly raise this issue, the Moldovan press speculates that it is is at the root of the PL’s failure to strike a deal with the coalition.

The delay in forming a new government in Moldova means that plans to push forward with EU integration and other reforms will be put on hold. This is also likely to delay efforts to resolve the crisis in the Moldovan banking sector, where there have been a series of untransparent takeovers of major banks in recent years. Three banks - Banca de Economii, Banca Sociala and Unibank - were taken under special administration by the central bank in late 2014.

Talks on the Transnistria conflict in the 5+2 format under the aegis of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe have been postponed since before the elections, and will remain on hold until a new government is formed.

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