Pro-EU opposition in Moldova attempts to overthrow government

Pro-EU opposition in Moldova attempts to overthrow government
By Iulian Ernst in Bucharest July 17, 2020

The two pro-EU parties in Moldova’s parliament — the Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) led by ex-prime minister Maia Sandu and Dignity and Truth Platform Party led by Andrei Nastase — have jointly filed a no-confidence motion against the government of Socialist Prime Minister Ion Chicu.

Irrespective of the outcome of the motion, President Igor Dodon, who installed Chicu’s cabinet after a previous government led by Sandu was ousted, is likely to win: either by defeating the pro-EU opposition and maintaining Chicu’s cabinet in office, or by gaining a tighter grip over a weakened executive until early elections take place. 

The motion, filed by the 27 MPs of the two parties, needs the support of all the other parties outside the ruling coalition formed by Socialist Party (PSRM) and Democratic Party (PDM) to topple the government, because the PSRM and PDM together have 50 MPs in the 101-seat parliament.

Under the baseline scenario, the government will survive the no-confidence motion but there is still a chance for the opposite. The PDM might pull out of the coalition with the Socialists and form a new majority. PDM president Pavel Filip said he is equally ready to negotiate with the PAS and PPDA, as well as with the PSRM. In this case, however, the country would return to a political crisis. 

There is no possible combination of compatible parties that could form a new majority in the current parliament. Among all the possible combinations, the existing PSRM/PDM coalition is the most stable, so a successful no-confidence vote would result in the incumbent government remaining in office with reduced powers until early elections. This is a scenario that President Dodon, who expects to win the presidential elections this autumn, would not object to.

Dodon has talked of a broad coalition to organise early elections — including the pro-EU parties but not Pro Moldova, the recently-formed political vehicle of Dodon’s main rival Vlad Plahotniuc, or the eponymous party of fugitive businessman Ilan Shor.

By calling the confidence vote, the pro-EU parties will recover the public support lost amid internal tensions that have increased over the past year, as they demonstrated unity for the first time in a long while. However, they are not seen as being able to form a new government, and there still a long way to go before they can be in a position to win the presidential or (even less likely) the parliamentary elections.