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Moldova’s Anti-Oligarchic Government Falls. What Will Happen Next?
12 November, 2019
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The Prime Minister of Moldova Maia Sandu (R) with Andrei Nastase (L) pictured in Parliament during audition at a special session in Chisinau, Moldova, 12 November 2019. The government of Maia Sandu lost a vote of non-confidence from 63 deputies, socialists and democrats. Socialists sent censure motion against the government, after their legislative amendments to the Law of the Prosecutor's Office that give them the right to refer candidates for the post of Attorney General. Photo: EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU

Editor's Note: The following is an article by Hromadske’s Moldovan partner, Ziarul de Gardă.

The governing coalition formed in June 2019, aiming to fight the oligarchy in the country is now falling apart. Sixty-three deputies, 34 from the Socialist Party and 29 deputies from the Democratic Party dismissed the government led by Maia Sandu passing the no-confidence vote, on November 12. This comes after the government assumed the responsibility for the new amendments to the Law of the Prosecutor’s Office. In response, the Socialists filed a no-confidence vote against the government.   

In June 2019, the Socialist Party together with the ACUM Party formed from the Action and Solidarity Party and the Truth and Dignity Party Platform created a governing coalition. The coalition aimed to get rid of the Democratic Party’s rule and of Vladimir Plahotniuc, fugitive oligarch and former leader of the Democratic Party. 

How did the governing coalition between the Socialist Party and the ACUM Bloc appear

On June 7, 2019, the Constitutional Court, controlled by the Democratic Party representatives, stated that, according to the law, the three-month period for the formation of the Government expired on June 7, therefore any actions of the Parliament are illegal.

Nevertheless, on Saturday, June 8, the coalition formed by the Socialist Party and the ACUM Bloc voted for Zinaida Greceanîi as the President of the Parliament. Later, after consulting with the parliamentary factions of the Socialist Party and the ACUM Bloc, Igor Dodon appointed Maia Sandu as a candidate for the post of prime minister.

After some time, at the request of the Democrats, the Constitutional Court ruled very quickly, without checking the acts approved by the Parliament, that its activities were allegedly illegal, as well as the election of a new Government and President of the Parliament. 

Later, again at the request of the Democratic deputies, the Constitutional Court dismissed Igor Dodon, and Pavel Filip, temporarily acting as president, dismissed the Parliament and announced that early parliamentary elections would be held on September 6.

Before the no-confidence vote, the governing coalition was searching for a candidate to fill for the Prosecutor General Position, which is empty since July 2019, when the then-Prosecutor General, Eduard Harunjen tendered his resignation. 

Why the Socialists filed the no-confidence vote against the government

On November 6, the Minister of Justice, Olesea Stamate, canceled the results of the contest for the Prosecutor General position.

According to the Minister, the members of the commission did not have sufficient access to some information to verify the integrity of the candidates, and some members disproportionately appreciated some candidates, which led to the influence of the final results.

Stamate also proposed a new amendment for the Law of the Prosecutor’s Office, so that the Prime Minister can submit a list of candidates for the Prosecutor General position to the Superior Council of Prosecutors.  

After the Minister’s declaration, the government has assumed responsibility for the new amendment to the Law of Prosecutor’s Office. 

The Socialists, accused those in the ACUM Bloc and the Prime Minister of violating the provisions of the governing coalition agreement by assuming the responsibility regarding the modification of the Law of the Prosecutor’s Office.

In the mid of this political crisis the U.S. embassy to Moldova, the French embassy to Moldova, the German embassy to Moldova, the U.K. embassy to Moldova, the Romanian embassy to Moldova, along with the E.U. delegation to Moldova expressed their support for the Sandu government and the governing coalition, urging the political leaders to find as soon as possible a consensus regarding this political situation. 

On November 8, the Socialists filed a no-confidence vote against the Cabinet of Ministers headed by Maia Sandu.

Citizens take part in a rally to support the Government of Moldovan Prime Minister Maia Sandu, in front of the Parliament building in Chisinau, Moldova, 12 November 2019. EPA-EFE/DUMITRU DORU

Who can initiate a no-confidence vote 

According to Moldova’s Parliament Regulation, at least one-fourth of the elected members in the Parliament can initiate a vote of no confidence against the Government. 

After it’s submission the Parliament debates the no-confidence vote against the Government, in a plenary session, and it can be passed only if a majority of the deputies vote for it.  

Thirty-six Socialist deputies initiated the no-confidence vote against Sandu’s Government, however, for it to pass they needed other factions to vote as well.   

Previously Andrian Candu, former President of the Parliament, and member of the Democratic Party stated that the Party will also join Socialists’ no-confidence vote.

Despite the motion of censure, President Igor Dodon remained optimistic that the current political tensions were not fatal for the governing coalition.

At the same time, if the Parliament rejects the no-confidence vote against the Government, the deputies who signed it will not be able to initiate a new vote at the same meeting for the same reasons. 

Now as the deputies adopted the no-confidence vote the Prime Minister Sandu will have to submits to the President her resignation letter, within three days.

What will happen after the no-confidence vote against the government passes

According to Moldova’s Constitution, in case of a no-confidence-vote from the Parliament, the Government performs only the functions of managing public affairs until the members of the new government take the oath.

During this period the Government is limited only in its right to ensure the implementation of foreign policy and legislative initiatives in areas related to the development and approval of new activity programs. 

And although the Democrats supported Socialists’ no-confidence vote against the Government during the plenary session, President Igor Dodon declared that a coalition between the Socialists and the Democrats won’t happen.   

Socialists and Democrats together against the Government

The Parliament dismissed the Cabinet of Ministers headed by Maia Sandu, on November 12, during the plenary session. 

Sixty-three deputies gave their votes in favor of the censure motion against the government, from which 34 deputies were from the Socialist Party faction and 29 from the Democratic Party faction. 

Before the debate on the censure motion, the president of the Truth and Dignity Party Platform faction in the parliament, part of the ACUM Bloc, Alexandru Slusari, declared that the Democratic Party and the Socialist Party will most likely make an alliance.

 “If they find votes to dismiss the Government, they will find the vote for another,” Slusari said. 

What will follow

Moldova’s President has to consult the parliamentary factions and nominate a candidate for the prime minister position. The candidate has to request a confidence vote in the Parliament on the program of activities and the entire list of government, within 15 days after the appointment.  

The government takes the oath before the President and enters the office only if the prime minister receives a confidence vote from the majority of deputies in the Parliament. 

However, if the government cannot be formed within three months, the President after consulting with the parliamentary factions, can dissolve the parliament and announce early parliamentary elections.

The international community reacted to Moldova’s Parliament’s decision to dismiss the Government.

Reactions from the foreign partners

The Romanian Prime Minister, Ludovic Orban who is set to come on an official visit to Moldova, declared that any actions against the Sandu government raise serious questions about Moldova’s European path. 

The spokesperson of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Maja Kocijancic, stated that the no-confidence vote against the Sandu Government sends worrying signals for the country’s reform process. 

According to the statement emphasizing the official position of the European Union, the dismissal of the government doesn’t mean that the reforms shouldn’t continue. The E.U. also mentioned that it commits itself to collaborate with those from Moldova who support the reform process regarding the fight against corruption and the independence of the judiciary system.  

In a press release, the U.S. embassy to Moldova described the dismissal of the Sandu government as regrettable, noting that this will not change the priorities of the United States in the bilateral relations with Moldova. The embassy urged the elected representatives of the people to work to build a more equitable, democratic and prosperous future for all citizens of the country.

READ MORE: Sandu's Government Resigns as Moldovan MPs Pass No-Confidence Vote