Moldova's modern history is characterized by
its geographical proximity to Romania and the Soviet
Union / Russia. In 1940, the Soviet
Socialist Republic of Moldova was
established. With the exception of the period 1941–1944,
when Romania regained Moldova, the area remained Soviet
until 1991, when Communism fell and Moldova proclaimed
its independence. In connection with this the
Transnistrian breakaway republic was also formed.
In the socialist Soviet Republic of Moldova, the
social system was characterized by an all-powerful
apparatus of power, the party, the state and the
security service. The Communist Party was the only
allowed party. Opportunities for free debate were
stripped and dissent was suppressed. A transition to a
centrally controlled planning economy was initiated.
Agriculture and other industries were nationalized.
List of most commonly used acronyms containing Moldova. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.
Surprise of Moldova
By merging the area east of the Dnestr River with
central Bessarabia in the 1920s (see Older History),
Moldova gained a Slavic minority. The Slavic element
increased after the Second World War, when Moscow
initiated an extensive process of refreshment. Contacts
between Moldova and Romania were almost completely
broken, and the security police turned down all
nationalist tendencies. Immigration of Russians,
Ukrainians and other slaves was encouraged, while many
Moldavians were deported east to Central Asia. Slaves
were placed on the leading positions within the
Communist Party and the business community.
Moldova was traditionally an agricultural country and
remained so even during the Soviet era. Some
industrialization was carried out, but the factories
were primarily located in the area east of Dnestr.
When the political climate in the Soviet Union was
liberalized under Soviet leader Michail Gorbachev's
reform policy after 1985, nationalist sentiments came to
the surface and the Moldavans now dared to protest
against the shock. In 1989, the opposition Moldovan
groups gathered in the Moldovan People's Front, which
organized demonstrations with the requirement that
Romanian / Moldovan should become official language. In
the thunderstorms that prevailed, the rulers decided to
obey the requirement. In September 1989, Moldavian,
written in Latin letters, was made the only official
language. The influence of the People's Front was
further strengthened when it was allowed to stand in the
elections to the Republic of Parliament (Supreme Soviet)
in 1990 and won representation in the Assembly.
Independence from the Soviet Union
When Parliament was assembled, Communist Mircea
Snegur was elected with the support of the People's
Front to the President. A new, more reform-friendly
government took office in May 1990. The power of the
Communist Party was severely curtailed, and on 23 June
1990 Parliament adopted a declaration of sovereignty.
The largest minorities - Russians, Ukrainians and
Gagauz - opposed the new Moldovan nationalist policy, in
particular the demands of certain Moldovan groups that
the country should join Romania. In August, the Gagauz
proclaimed their own Soviet republic in the south,
Gagauzi, and in September the Slavs established their
own Soviet republic, Transnistria (Dnestr Republic),
east of Dnestr. Declarations of independence were
annulled by Parliament.
On August 27, 1991, Moldova declared its
independence. In December, Snegur, who was the only
candidate, was elected president in direct elections.
The Communist Party was banned, the Soviet Union was
asked to withdraw its forces and its own armed forces
began to be built up.
In connection with the dissolution of the Soviet
Union in December 1991, Moldova was instrumental in
founding the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)
with most of the former Soviet republics.
Reunification with Romania?
Reunification with Romania was one of the goals of
the People's Front, and some cooperation on the issue
was with nationalist forces in the neighboring country.
Among the Moldavans in common, opinions went apart.
Despite the historical ties with Romania, most people
felt more like Moldavians than Romanians. In June 1992,
the government resigned following popular protests
against reunification policy.
A new government led by Andrei Sangheli of the
Democratic Agriculture Party was formed. The party,
which consisted mainly of former communists, was opposed
to accession to Romania. The Popular Front, which had
changed its name to the Christian Democratic Front,
became the leading opposition party.
In the first completely free parliamentary elections
in February 1994, the Pro-Romanian groups ended up far
behind the parties advocating continued independence.
The Democratic Agriculture Party gained a majority in
Parliament. In a referendum on Moldova's position in
March of that year, 95 percent voted in favor of
The question of an accession to Romania fell away,
and the position of the outbreak republics came to the
fore instead. The new constitution of July 1994
guaranteed Transnistria and Gagauzien a special
autonomous status. An agreement was quickly reached with
the Gagauzas, who were given autonomy in cultural,
administrative and economic matters, as well as the
right to establish a legislative parliament and elect a
leader, the Bashkan, who would sit with the Moldovan
government. In May-June 1995 elections to the Gagauzian
Parliament were held, and at its first meeting the
self-proclaimed Gagauzian Republic was declared to have
ceased to exist. With Transnistria no settlement has
been reached (see separate text on Transnistria).
The Communists are making a comeback
At that time, the old People's Front leader Mircea
Snegur formed his own political movement, Moldova's
Party for Rebirth and Uniform. However, he lost the 1996
presidential election to the center politician Petru
Lucinschi, who became new president in January 1997. In
the 1998 parliamentary elections, the reformed Communist
Party became the largest single party, but it failed to
form a government. Instead, an alliance of center-right
parties had to form government with the economist Ion
Ciubuc as prime minister. However, Ciubuc did not
receive support for his efforts to reform the economy,
and the following year he left his post. Then followed
short-lived governments. A constitutional amendment from
2000 meant that the president should be elected by
Parliament instead of directly by the people. It would
cause major political problems and in 2016, the direct
presidential elections were reinstated.
In 2001, Moldova became the first former Soviet
Republic to vote democratically back to the Communists
in power. The January parliamentary elections gave the
Communist Party 71 of the 101 seats. Vasile Tarlev was
appointed Prime Minister and in April Parliament elected
Communist leader Vladimir Voronin as new president.
Behind the victory of the Communist Party lay a deep
disappointment over the corruption and inefficiency of
the political elite. Many also hoped that the Communists
could resolve the conflict with the similarly communist
regime in Transnistria. Voters were also attracted by
promises of a higher standard of living and of a
rapprochement with Russia instead of increased contact
with the EU of many Moldovans.
First female head of government
The Communists mainly pursued a social democratic
policy. The assured Western governments and
international lending institutions that a return to
Soviet economic model was not timely. The target was
market economy and new loans.
However, the government wanted to reintroduce Russian
as a compulsory subject in the school, which led to
demonstrations in the capital Chișinău in 2002. The
proposal was withdrawn, and from 2003 President Voronin
began to pursue a more EU-friendly policy. Opinion
surveys showed that the Moldavans had become more
friendly towards the West. Relations with Russia had
also deteriorated in the issue of Transnistria.
The Communists returned to the 2005 parliamentary
elections but still had their own majority with 56
seats. Tarlev was able to reign and Voronin was
re-elected president. However, support for communists
continued to decline in local elections in 2007 and in
March of the following year the government resigned. As
new Prime Minister, Communist Party Zinaida GreceanÓi
was elected, becoming Moldova's first female head of
government. In her government declaration, she fully
supported an EU-friendly policy.
In the April 2009 parliamentary elections, the
Communist Party was again the largest, now with 49.5
percent of the vote and 60 seats. The three bourgeois
opposition parties Liberal Party, Liberal Democratic
Party and Our Moldavian Alliance together received 41
seats. The opposition accused the Communist Party of
electoral fraud and refused to recognize the result. In
Chișinău, riots erupted as opposition supporters marched
on public buildings. The situation calmed when the
Constitutional Court decided that the votes should be
recalculated. When the election results were the same as
before, the opposition launched a boycott of the work of
the new parliament.
New elections lead to a shift in power
The Communist Party lacked a mandate to elect a new
president on its own, and after two attempts to appoint
a head of state failed, Parliament was forced to
announce new elections in July 2009. The Communists were
now given 48 seats and once again became the largest
party, but four Liberal / Conservative parties took home
a total of 53 seats. The Liberal Democratic Party, the
Liberal Party, the Democratic Party and Our Moldovan
Alliance formed a coalition government. Prime Minister
became Liberal Democrat leader Vlad Filat, while Liberal
Party leader Mihai Ghimpu was elected President of
The difficulties in appointing a new president also
plagued the bourgeois government. When two votes in
parliament in November and December became unsuccessful,
new elections were announced again, now until November
2010. In the new election, the bourgeois government
parties strengthened their overall position in
parliament, even though Our Moldovan Alliance was voted
down. However, the tripartite government lacked two
mandates to be able to elect a head of state on its own.
Prime Minister Filat emphasized that the government's
main goal was to bring Moldova closer to the EU, raise
Moldova's living standards, fight corruption and
maintain strategically important relations with Russia,
the United States, Romania and Ukraine. Democrat leader
Marian Lupu was elected new president and thus acting
Political deadlock is broken
Another two unsuccessful attempts to appoint an
ordinary president were made in the fall of 2011. Only
in the seventh attempt in March 2012 did the
government's candidate, the politically independent
judge Nicolae Timofti, receive enough support to be
appointed head of state and president. The country had
then been without an ordinary head of state for nearly
Timofti expressed his support for the government's
efforts to integrate Moldova into Europe, but also
emphasized that he was the president of the entire
people and would work for national reconciliation.
The prolonged political deadlock had hampered
developments in the country, both politically and
economically. Poor Moldova depended on loans from the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
and the loans were linked to demands for reforms in the
energy sector and the education system. At times, the
credit institutions threatened to freeze payments. The
already almost non-existent dialogue on a solution to
the conflict with Transnistria came to a standstill
during this period in practice. It hurt Moldova's
pursuit of a rapprochement with Europe, as a solution to
the conflict with the breakaway republic was a
prerequisite for Moldovan EU membership.
In early 2013 - just a couple of years before the
next parliamentary elections were held - relations
between the three EU-friendly government parties became
increasingly strained. Prime Minister Vlad Filat accused
his alliance brothers of engaging in corruption. A
police investigation into suspected corruption had then
been launched against some ministers, including the
finance minister. Filat announced that the Liberal
Democrats intended to withdraw from the agreement that
formed the basis for government cooperation.
The conflict caused the Democratic Party, together
with the traditionally Russia-friendly Communist Party,
to topple the government in a distrustful vote in
Parliament in March 2013. In May, a new EU-friendly
government was formed with the same three parties as
before. The Prime Minister became Liberal Democrat Iurie
Tensions are rising between EU and Russia friends
2014 was characterized by increased tensions between
Russia and the EU, as well as between the groups in
Moldovan politics that were on either side of the
conflict. The situation was heightened when Russia
annexed the Ukrainian Crimean Peninsula in March and
politicians in the Moldovan breakaway republic of
Transnistria shortly thereafter urged Moscow to do the
same with their territory (see Foreign Policy and
Defense and Transnistria).
Prior to Moldova's signing of an association
agreement with the EU in June 2014, the press from
Russia increased, which posed both economic and
political threats to the country, continued
rapprochement with the EU.
The tension rose further as the parliamentary
elections in Moldova in November 2014 came ever closer.
Opinion polls indicated that the previously strongly
EU-friendly opinion had cooled down as the reforms
implemented on the recommendation of the EU did not lead
to clear improvements in poor Moldavians' living
Very close to Election Day, the newly formed,
strongly pro-Russian party Fosterlandet
(Patria) was not allowed to stand in the elections. It
was accused by the Election Commission of having
received financial support from "foreign power". The
decision to exclude the Fatherland received sharp
criticism from the Russian government, which stated that
it doubted that the election would go right.
Despite the threatening climate, the EU-friendly
parties prevailed, albeit by a slight margin. However,
the single largest party was the Russia-
friendly Socialist Party, which has never sat
in Parliament before. Negotiations between the Liberal
Democrats, Democrats and Liberals became difficult and
prolonged and finally collapsed following disagreement
over the distribution of ministerial posts. Only in
February 2015 could a new government be presented. This
happened since the Communists gave their support to the
coalition (read more in Current Politics).