Moldovan parliament fails to convene after recess

Moldovan parliament fails to convene after recess
By Iulian Ernst February 16, 2016

Moldova’s opposition Socialist Party (PSRM) has called for parliament to be summoned, after it failed to convene more than two weeks after the end of the winter recess.

The PSRM and the Dignity and Truth (DA) civic platform have announced plans for mass demonstrations on the first day lawmakers meet after the recess. The two opposition groups have been putting pressure on the government, which is backed by controversial oligarch Vlad Plahotnuic, to stand down. However, PSRM leader Igor Dodon said on February 16 that the resumption of parliamentary business could not be put off indefinitely.

“I understand that the sundry majority fears that tens of thousands of demonstrators might show up at the first Parliament’s meeting, but this cannot be indefinitely postponed,” Dodon told a press conference, quoted by Jurnal daily.  

The PSRM plans to invite another opposition party, the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM), to join forces and summon an emergency session of parliament. The Socialists need the support of an additional 10 MPs to meet the 34 MP threshold above which a group of lawmakers can summon the parliament.

Dodon also told journalists that the PSRM has drafted a series of bills intended to promote reforms in the area of justice, banking and mass media. Despite the PSRM’s pro-Russian orientation, these are the areas covered by the EU’s foreign affairs council in its February 15 resolution on Moldova’s progress in the implementation of its EU Association Agreement.

If adopted, the legislation would require the dismissal of the heads of key public institutions – the General Prosecution Office, Intelligence Services (SIS), media market regulator (CCA) and the central bank (BNM). BNM governor Dorin Dragutanu has to be dismissed and investigated for his involvement in the bank frauds, Dodon stressed. His resignation, submitted five months ago, is not sufficient, he added.

Lawmakers were last summoned to a surprise meeting on the afternoon of January 20 to endorse the nomination of prime minister designate Pavel Filip. A majority of 57MPs in the 101-seat parliament endorsed Filip, after President Nicolae Timofti rejected the nomination of controversial oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc. However, Filip is widely seen as a proxy for Plahotniuc, who is also the marriage godfather of parliament speaker Andrian Candu.

Filip was nominated by a parliamentary majority formed by the Democratic Party and the Liberal Party, plus former MPs from the PLDM and Communist Party. The fragile majority has appointed a new government in January but needs more support in Parliament to appoint a new President when the term of the incumbent President Nicolae Timofti expires in March.

Dodon stressed that his party would not support any presidential candidate as he wants to force early elections. The PSRM will draft another bill to amend the constitution and introduce a direct presidential vote. Under the constitution, the president is appointed by the parliament, and support from 61 of the 101 MPs is required.

The PSRM is the largest party in the parliament and also the most popular among voters, according to recent polls.

Its supporters have joined those of the DA in recent protests, despite the two groups’ opposite views on the country’s external orientation. It seemed in January that the two could join forces, but they failed to find sufficient common ground.