1 – Freedom House about Moldova
BSSB.BE freedomhouse.org 08.09.2016
FREEDOM STATUS: Partly Free
AGGREGATE SCORE: 60
FREEDOM RATING: 3.0
POLITICAL RIGHTS: 3
CIVIL LIBERTIES: 3
Press Freedom Status: Partly Free
Net Freedom Status: N/A
Moldova received a downward trend arrow due to new evidence of government dysfunction, including revelations of mass fraud and corruption, and the enormous influence of powerful businessmen on politics and governance.
Moldova experienced a significant political crisis in 2015, as the aftershock of a banking scandal and discord among parliamentary parties and prominent officials caused deep government dysfunction and stalled ongoing reform efforts. Details about a major fraud scheme involving three Moldovan banks continued to emerge during the year, implicating high-ranking public figures and leading to mass protests. The tense climate complicated the process of government formation, contributing to disagreements among the parties that had won seats in the November 2014 parliamentary elections. After multiple transfers of power, the year ended in a political impasse, with parties unable to form a new governing coalition.
Political Rights And Civil Liberties:
Political Rights: 25 / 40 (−3) [Key]
- Electoral Process: 10 / 12
Voters elect the 101-seat unicameral parliament by proportional representation for four-year terms. Parliament elects the president, who serves up to two four-year terms, with a three-fifths supermajority. Parliament must approve the prime minister, who holds most of the executive power. Nicolae Timofti was elected president in 2012, filling a post that had been vacant since 2009 due to partisan gridlock. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2016.
In the 2014 parliamentary elections, the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM), a hard-line Russophile faction, emerged as the largest single parliamentary party with 25 seats, while the more moderate Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) took 21. Among the pro-European parties, the reformist and center-right Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova (PLDM) won 23 seats, the center-left Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) took 19, and the pro-Romanian Liberal Party (PL) secured 13.
Although observers praised the 2014 elections as genuinely competitive and generally well administered, there were some significant deficiencies. The pro-Russian Patria Party was disqualified days before the vote on the grounds that it received campaign funds from abroad. Meanwhile, a party whose name and symbols closely resembled those of the PCRM was allowed to participate, potentially confusing voters.
The distribution of overseas polling places favored residents of European Union (EU) countries over those living in Russia. Nevertheless, the Constitutional Court approved the election results, rejecting challenges by opposition parties.
Post-election complications, including disagreement among parties and the repercussions of the banking scandal, led to multiple changes of government in 2015. In February, following lengthy negotiations, the PLDM and the PDM formed a minority government, with PLDM candidate Chiril Gaburici as prime minister.
The coalition parties were unable to reach an agreement with the PL, their former ally, relying instead on support from the PCRM to reach a majority. Gaburici resigned in June amid accusations that he had falsified his academic records. The PLDM, PDM, and PL agreed to form a new coalition in July, and Valeriu Streleţ of the PLDM took the office of the prime minister. In October, as the fraud scandal deepened and led to the arrest of PLDM leader and former prime minister Vlad Filat for alleged involvement, parliament supported a no-confidence motion against Streleţ. Parliamentary parties failed to agree on a new candidate after the dissolution of the government, leading President Timofti to nominate businessman and former prime minister Ion Sturza in December. Sturza faced significant opposition from legislators, and no government had been formed at year’s end.
Local elections took place in June 2015, days after Gaburici’s resignation. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), they were “efficiently administered and offered the electorate a diverse choice.” Pro-European parties secured a majority in most municipalities, including Chişinău. Controversial businessman Renato Usatîi’s pro-Russian Our Party won in Moldova’s second-largest city, Bălţi. Business magnate Ilan Shor, who was among those embroiled in the banking scandal, was elected mayor of Orhei, a town north of Chişinău.
Elections for bashkan (governor) of the Autonomous Territorial Unit of Gagauzia, the principal home of the country’s ethnic Gagauz minority, took place in March. Independent candidate Irina Vlah, backed by the PSRM and running on a platform of closer ties with Russia, won the position.
- Political Pluralism and Participation:11 / 16 (−1)
Moldova’s multiparty system features rivalry and diversity within the loosely defined pro-European camp, which advocates for integration into the EU, and the pro-Russian camp, which favors closer ties with Russia. The crisis in neighboring Ukraine has exacerbated this division, and the deepening of the banking scandal in 2015 facilitated further discord among parties. In December, 14 PCRM parliamentarians announced that they would defect to form a separate platform, ostensibly to end the deadlock by supporting the PDM. Dignity and Truth, a civic movement that emerged in February as a platform for demanding government accountability, submitted a request to register as a political party in December.
Russia periodically threatens and imposes economic penalties on Moldova for its moves toward European integration, although according to Moscow, these actions were taken for health or safety reasons. A Russian ban on imports of Moldovan wine has been in place since 2013, and separate bans on Moldovan fruit and meat imports were announced in 2014. In 2015, Russia selectively lifted sanctions against some enterprises, mainly from Gagauzia.
In a landmark event, two Roma women who ran in the June local elections were elected to municipal councils. The Gagauz, a Turkic minority concentrated in the country’s south, enjoy regional autonomy, but their leaders allege that their interests are not well represented at the national level. They and Moldova’s various Slavic minorities tend to look to leftist parties and Russia for political support, mainly due to the lack of an integration strategy for minorities. In April 2015, the government submitted a draft strategy for the integration of minorities for public consultation.
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