A planned parliament vote on whether to appoint a government headed by prime minister designate Ion Sturza was cancelled on January 4 when only 47 of Moldova’s 101 MPs attended the session.
The failure to appoint a prime minister makes it more likely that Moldova will hold early elections. Alternately, it paves the way for the Democratic Party to form a parliamentary majority and nominate its backer, controversial businessman Vlad Plahotniuc, as prime minister.
Sturza, who was nominated by president Nicolae Timofti in December, had planned to present his cabinet and governing programme in an attempt to gain lawmakers’ confidence. However, he was not expected to be elected as he failed to gain the support of a majority of MPs.
The insufficient quorum means that the nomination was rejected and the president has to resume talks with the parliamentary parties for the nomination of another candidate, parliament speaker Andrian Candu explained to media after the session. Votes from at least 51 MPs are required to appoint a prime minister
“According to article 38 of the Constitution, we have lack of quorum. According to jurisprudence of the Constitutional Court, in the situation in which exists boycotting or lack of quorum, the attempt is considered failed, and the president is going to initiate negotiations to designate again a candidate for the function of premier,” declared Candu, according to jurnal.md.
Moldova’s parliament has to appoint a new government by January 29, or president Nicolae Timofti can dissolve the legislative body and call early elections.
Timofti nominated businessman and reformist politician Sturza as prime minister designate on December 21, after parties represented in the parliament failed to form a majority. The previous government under prime minister Valeriu Strelet collapsed in October.
Sturza’s nomination by Timofti followed rumours within Moldova that the Democratic Party was about to nominate Plahotniuc as prime minister.
Timofti reportedly resisted pressure from the Democratic Party to appoint Plahotniuc, a move that would have blocked Moldova’s negotiations with development partners such as the IMF and the EU.
Since Sturza’s nomination, the Constitutional Court has given an interpretation of the constitution which states that the president has to follow the recommendation of a parliamentary majority. This had no impact on Sturza, since he did not have the backing of a parliamentary majority, but civic organisations have warned that the interpretation could be used by other political groups in future to force Timofti nominate their candidate - possibly Plahotniuc.
Meanwhile, Moldova’s main pro-Russian parties, particularly Igor Dodon’s Socialist Party are calling for quick early elections, which they hope will allow them to take a majority in the new parliament. The Demnitate si Adevar (DA) civic platform, which organised mass protests in autumn 2015 and is now transforming into a political party, also wants a chance to enter the parliament.