Moldova is a country located in Eastern Europe. With the capital city of Chisinau, Moldova has a population of 4,033,974 based on a recent census from COUNTRYAAH. 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.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: 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. Check best-medical-schools for more information about Moldova.
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 continued independence.
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 Greceanîi 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 Parliament.
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 president.
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 three years.
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 Leancă.
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 standards.
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).