Members of a local electoral commission count ballots in the July 11 legislative elections at a polling station in Chisinau, Moldova. (Sergei Gapon/AFP/Getty Images)

Moldova held snap legislative elections July 11. After a months-long wrangle between Maia Sandu, the pro-Western president elected in November, and the pro-Russian majority in the legislature, new elections were called when the Parliament failed to name a new prime minister.

Sandu’s Party of Action and Solidarity (PAS) won this election in a landslide, with 52.8 percent of the vote. The second-place party, the pro-Russian Socialists, took only 27 percent. During the campaign, parties focused on two issues: extensive domestic corruption and whether Moldova should more closely align with Russia or the West.

For voters, corruption ultimately proved the more salient political issue, producing a substantial shift in electoral preferences.…  Seguir leyendo »

Moldovan President Maia Sandu delivers a speech during her inauguration ceremony in Chisinau, Moldova, on Dec. 24. (Reuters)

Today, Moldova’s first female president, Maia Sandu, marks her first 100 days in office. Sandu campaigned on a pro-European integration platform and has steered Moldova in that direction, ending the country’s pro-Russian orientation under her predecessor, Igor Dodon.

Sandu also promised to tackle high-level corruption, and the European Union promised to support her efforts. Despite this success, Sandu’s tenure remains constrained at home by a parliament that appears opposed to any anti-corruption reform attempts. In addition, Russia’s strong grip within the region is likely to challenge Moldova’s rapprochement with the West.

Russia continues to compete for influence

Research shows how the European Union and Russia shape political institutions in the post-Soviet countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

An installation dedicated to doctors struggling with Covid-19 in Chisinau, Moldova, November 2020. Photograph: Valery Sharifulin/TASS

“I am happy to work on the frontline and to see the Canadian medical system function so well,” Alecu Mătrăgună wrote in a Facebook post, “but I am sad that I was vaccinated before my mother, who works in the medical system in Moldova.” Mătrăgună is a Moldovan sonographer living in Montreal. His mother is 61 and a paediatrician with more than 30 years’ service under her belt. Yet, he told me, she has no idea when the Covid-19 vaccine might become available for her and for more than 53,300 other healthcare staff in Europe’s poorest country.

I had a similar reaction to Mătrăgună’s about my family in Moldova when I saw a sign at my local London pharmacy as long ago as early December, announcing that the vaccine was on its way.…  Seguir leyendo »

Former Moldovan prime minister Maia Sandu arrives to vote in the runoff presidential election in Chisinau on Nov. 15. Sandu defeated President Igor Dodon in an election that many Moldovans considered a referendum on two divergent visions for the future of this small Eastern European nation. (Roveliu Buga/AP)

The Republic of Moldova, a tiny nation sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, held its second-round presidential elections on Nov. 15. The voters ousted the incumbent pro-Russian president, Igor Dodon, electing Maia Sandu, the pro-Western, Harvard-educated former prime minister.

Sandu will become the first female president of this former Soviet republic, population 3.5 million. What shaped her victory, and what does it mean? Here’s what you need to know.

Moldova has deep political divisions

Disagreements about three big issues have shaped Moldova’s politics in recent years — and corruption topped the list. Sandu organized an anti-corruption movement that opposed the oligarchic rule of Vladimir Plahotniuc, a businessman who completely captured the state until he was ousted in 2019 — following the joint political intervention by the United States, the European Union and Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Maia Sandu in Germany in July. Photo: Getty Images.

The lack of political will to carry out rule of law reforms is frequently the reason why reforms are not fully implemented. The case of Moldova proves that in societies where strong vested interests still persist, political savviness is equally as important as political will.

Old and new political power brokers in Moldova struck a fragile pact in June to oust Vladimir Plahotniuc. Plahotniuc had built a network of corruption and patronage with the help of the Democratic Party, which he treated as a personal vehicle and which allowed him and a small economic elite circle to enrich themselves off of government institutions and state-owned enterprises, to the detriment of Moldovan citizens and the health of their political process.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why are Russia, the United States and the European Union suddenly cooperating in Moldova, a former Soviet Republic, to support a new government led by a pro-E.U. prime minister? The alliance hardly seems likely, considering the political warfare that has included economic sanctions, disinformation campaigns and sharp competition for supremacy in the lands between Russia and the European Union.

And yet even the pro-Russian president of Moldova called the new government “a success of East-West diplomacy and ... probably a bridge between the West and the Russian Federation.”

Here’s what you need to know.

Moldova was locked in a political stalemate

Moldova held parliamentary elections in February — but until June 8, none of the parties could either rule on its own or form a coalition government with the others.…  Seguir leyendo »

Days before the hotly contested Ukrainian presidential election on March 31, incumbent Petro Poroshenko’s party faces credible allegations of voter bribery. It’s not hard to guess what will happen next. The oligarchic clique will steal the election, and in response, international observers will accuse local authorities of vote-rigging. But instead of addressing the symptoms of democratic backsliding, it’s time to treat the root cause: informal power.

Moldova offers a textbook example. Oil and banking tycoon Vladimir Plahotniuc bankrolls the country’s second-largest political force and has forged alliances with other parties to consolidate power. Although Plahotniuc exerts total control over parliament, law enforcement and the courts, he has no interest in running for office.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man walks to the polls on election day, 24 February, in Chisinau. Photo: Getty Images.

The outcome of Sunday’s election portends badly for Moldova’s prospects to resuscitate its democracy. The results likely herald a continuation of the current elite tandem that captured state institutions, stifled the independent media, encroached on civil society’s efforts to keep them accountable, and diverted international attention from the real problems that the country faces.

As they are consumed by ongoing domestic issues of their own, European governments and the EU may not have the necessary attention span for Moldova’s travails. But endorsement of, silence at or hesitance in the face of these election results would signal a tacit approval for more democratic backsliding.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman walks past electoral campaign posters Friday in downtown Chisinau. (Dumitru Doru/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

On Sunday, Moldova will be holding parliamentary elections. Most observers will likely analyze this as a referendum on whether the Eastern European nation orients itself toward the West or toward Russia – and since the pro-Russian Socialists are likely to win power, will conclude that Russia has won its loyalty. But the election’s main effect will be to cement and legitimize oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc’s total control over the country’s political life.

Plahotniuc is leader of the Democratic Party of Moldova, the largest party in parliament, and one of the wealthiest businessmen in the country. He has risen to dominate Moldovan politics by maneuvering between Russia and the West, buying out rivals, changing electoral laws to benefit his party, using the state apparatus to manipulate the media and harass opponents and owning a good share of the news media.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Russian threat to European security

National elections are seven weeks away and Moldova is frankly at a crossroads. One path will take us backward, back into the bosom of a failing, corrupt Russia run by Vladimir Putin and his henchmen. Socialism has failed, politically, economically and socially; we cannot go back. The other path surges us forward — with Democratic government, transparency, free markets, jobs, economic growth and a seat at the global table that will benefit all Moldovans.

As I flew back from Washington earlier this month, I was encouraged by the ever-stronger ties between Moldova and the United States. It was my third trip this year, and I am tremendously proud of the progress in our partnership.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police block the Moldovan parliament building during anti-government protests in 2016. Photo: Getty Images.

Moldova has long struggled with corruption in its politics, but a series of events over the course of the summer indicate that democracy and the rule of law are coming under increased threat. Western partners should take these red flags seriously and re-evaluate how they engage with the Moldovan government.

Warning signs

Firstly, after the second round of local elections in the capital Chisinau, on 3 June, opposition candidate Andrei Nastase appeared to have won the office of mayor. But, following a series of lower-court rulings, the country’s Supreme Court of Justice rendered election results invalid on 25 June after late-evening deliberations behind closed doors.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Moldova parliament building in Chisinau. Photo: Getty Images.

If free and fair elections were held in Moldova today, the current ruling Democratic Party would win about 4 per cent of the vote. Under the country’s current proportional representation system, this would not secure them any seats in parliament.

But if they cannot secure a parliamentary presence through popularity, the party seems intent on securing it through technicality. They are proposing an electoral change to a ‘mixed system’ that would secure up to 40 seats out of 101.

The party claims the new system, introducing elements of first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting,  will ‘bring policy-makers closer to their constituents’. But the experience of other struggling democracies in Moldova’s neighbourhood, where clientelism and corruption also thrive, shows that such a system in fact inhibits political pluralism and cements corrupt networks of power.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Moldovan flag in Chisinau. Photo: Getty Images.

As far back as 2000, the World Bank had already categorized Moldova as ‘a captured state’. Parliamentary vote-buying, the sale of judicial decisions, mishandling of public funds and non-transparent party financing were frequent practices that highlighted the vulnerabilities of the democratic transition process in Moldova. Despite several nominally pro-European governments since 2009, the reality is that Moldova remains a state where vested interests have subdued state institutions and paralyzed independent decision-making. The absence of checks on the abuse of power and the widespread corruption in state institutions has led to the Association Agreement, signed with the EU in 2014, being the only remaining viable political accountability mechanism that can provide the necessary oversight for reforms to be implemented by the self-declared ‘pro-EU’ coalition government.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Republic of Moldova — a tiny country of just 3.5 million people — is at risk of becoming Europe’s next security crisis, with potential consequences far beyond its borders.

A former Soviet Republic sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine, Moldova sits at the crossroads between Europe’s East and West. Since it declared independence in 1991, power has alternated between the Communist Party, which has traditionally sought stronger ties with Russia, and pro-European parties that have staunchly advocated membership in the European Union.

In 2009, the pro-Europeans came to power and made progress toward their goal. They signed an association agreement to deepen political ties with Brussels and gradually integrate Moldova into the European common market.…  Seguir leyendo »

A día de hoy, seguimos con mucha cautela y atención los acontecimientos en Ucrania, muestras palpables del ya mencionado pulso entre la UE y Rusia, por la expansión-contención de las fronteras y sus respectivas zonas de influencia.

Se debe tener en consideración geopolítica que tanto Bielorrusia como Ucrania son dos países, Estados-colchón, dentro de la lógica defensiva rusa. En el caso de Ucrania, este país ofrece una defensa en profundidad a Rusia que siempre ha intentado llevar sus fronteras con Occidente lo más al Oeste posible. De ahí que ésta se ha asegurado, de la forma y maneras a las que hemos podido asistir en las últimas semanas no sin cierta perplejidad, la península de Crimea; que le garantiza su grado de control en el mar Negro, en competencia con el interés de los EEUU al construir una base militar cerca de Constanza, Rumanía, dentro del Sistema de Defensa Antimisiles; así como su influencia sobre la rica zona Este de Ucrania.…  Seguir leyendo »

Here in Moldova, we’re not much impressed by the news from Ukraine. The citizens of Kiev smashed a statue of Lenin to protest their president’s reluctance to cuddle up to the European Union. This brings a flutter to freedom-loving American hearts, but here, in one of Europe’s most impoverished nations, we wonder: Why would Ukrainians take out their rage on a statue of the person they have to thank for Ukraine’s appearing on the political map in the first place — in 1922, as a member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics? It was as if the Americans were to topple a statue of Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

Continuando con los ejemplos del pulso entre Rusia y la UE por el control de los países fronterizos de la Europa Oriental, antiguas Repúblicas Soviéticas, se va tratar a continuación del asunto de la República de Moldavia.

Desde que declaró su independencia en 1991, tras la disolución de la URSS, formó parte de la  Comunidad de Estados Independientes celebrándose en aquellos momentos un movimiento político y social en pro de la reunificación con la que había sido su patria común, Rumanía, cuando formaba parte de ella como la región de Besarabia. No obstante, tras la celebración por ese motivo de un referéndum en 1994, el resultado fue la conservación de su independencia.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les révolutions «de couleur», un temps considérées comme des développements prometteurs dans l’espace post-soviétique, semblent être passées de mode. Un peu partout dans le monde s’élèvent des voix déçues par la promotion de la démocratie. La tendance semble être à la consolidation des régimes autoritaires.

Il y a environ un an, la Moldavie, pays mal connu, semblait le confirmer. Le 7 avril 2009, la Moldavie a fait les gros titres de la presse lorsque des manifestations pacifiques dénonçant des élections injustes furent récupérées par un petit nombre de provocateurs qui prirent d’assaut le bâtiment du parlement et le palais présidentiel.

La presse avait qualifié l’événement de révolution Twitter, ce qui bien sûr est une exagération.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema: Los acontecimientos ocurridos en el último año en Moldavia, vinculados a las elecciones parlamentarias, ponen de manifiesto un cambio importante en la relación entre los actores políticos relevantes, cambio que, probablemente, llevará a un giro en la política interna y externa de este país.

Resumen: Desde su independencia en 1991, la República de Moldavia ha atraído la atención de la comunidad internacional por las dificultades enfrentadas durante el período de transición democrática, la amenaza del conflicto congelado de Transnistria y por su vecindad con la UE. Una vez más, la pequeña república ex-soviética atrae la atención de la comunidad internacional: se trata de un giro importante en la política moldava, tras la celebración de las elecciones parlamentarias de 2009 que han llevado a la perdida del poder político de los comunistas ante los partidos de oposición agrupados en la Alianza para la Integración Europea.…  Seguir leyendo »

L’Ukraine fait figure d’«homme malade de l’Europe». Au sens littéral, c’est le pays qui a été le plus touché par l’épidémie de grippe A, avec plus de 300 victimes. Economiquement, elle n’est pas en meilleure santé: c’est bien d’un effondrement qu’il faut parler puisque le PIB a chuté de 18%, du fait de la chute de l’activité industrielle et des exportations d’acier, ainsi que des vulnérabilités du secteur financier. C’est dans ce contexte peu réjouissant que l’Ukraine élit son président. Si le précédent scrutin en 2004 avait donné lieu à une forte mobilisation des Ukrainiens, connue sous le nom de «Révolution orange», l’humeur du moment est donc nettement plus morose.…  Seguir leyendo »