Political crisis deepens once more in Moldova

Political crisis deepens once more in Moldova
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest January 14, 2016

Moldova’s President Nicolae Timofti rejected on January 13 the candidacy of controversial oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc for prime minister, submitted by the Democrat Party (PD) on the behalf of a 56-MP parliamentary majority. Plahotniuc fails 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, which marks a new stage in the political crisis in Moldova. The outcome of the conflict is unpredictable.

If no government is endorsed by January 29, President Timofti has to call early elections, but PD could take steps to dismiss President Timofti before that time.

In the shorter term, street protests from a variety of political orientations are expected in the coming days.

PD organised on January 13 a demonstration in favour of Plahotniuc, bringing together employees from the state companies controlled by the party. However, the DA (Dignity and Truth) civic platform resumed demonstrations and announced more protests against PD and Plahotniuc in the coming days. Separately, the pro-Russian party of Renato Usatii (Partidul Nostru) is preparing for street protests. The Socialist Party (PSM), also of pro-Russian orientation, might join Usatii.

PD has insisted on nominating Plahotniuc for a second time on January 14, when the president expects a new candidate, and will possibly start impeachment procedures against President Timofti in the case of a second refusal.

PD will use its 56-MP majority (in a parliament of 101 seats), which is expected to enlarge with more MPs pulling out from other parties, to start impeachment procedures immediately after the president rejects Plahotniuc’s nomination for the second time, Ion Sturza, an independent politician and businessman, explained to Jurnal TV.

President Timofti nominated Sturza for the prime minister position earlier this month, but lawmakers failed to endorse him.

The leaders of the 56-MP majority have signed a document reiterating their support for the nomination of Plahotniuc as prime minister, Jurnal.md announced.

A new majority was formed in Moldova’s parliament by PD on January 11, with the support of the Liberal Party (PL), as well as 14 MPs that recently left the Communist Party (PCRM), 8 MPs that left the Liberal Democrat Party (PLDM) and one independent MP.

The nomination of a prime minister candidate will significantly impact the coalition’s credibility, but as long as controversial businessman Plahotniuc remains the vice-president of the senior ruling Democratic Party, the odds for credibility among the country’s foreign partners remains thin.

The decision of the 8 PLDM MPs to support a prime minister candidate proposed by PD was the crucial step in the formation of the new majority. The eight MPs have not left PLDM, but announced their commitment to supporting a prime minister candidate proposed by PD, with a view of securing political stability and the country’s European integration, according to a statement published by deschide.md.

The new parliamentary majority also wants to identify solutions for the election of a new president, scheduled for March this year.

The coalition pledged to continue the European integration and modernisation of the country, including by the implementation of the Association Agreement and of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. The coalition also pledged to reform the institutions and promote reforms aimed at eventually making Moldova a European Union member.