Late last week, a government was finally formed and confirmed in Moldova. In order to achieve this, three pro-European parties had to make appreciable compromises. It will be even more difficult in the time ahead.
As we wrote before, the previous ruling coalition, formed in winter, had by summer become completely tarnished by scandals. These cost the Liberal Democrats (PLDM) several parliamentary seats and, together with the Democrats (PDM), their reputation in the eyes of the public, international lenders and EU leaders. In the end, the minority government fell apart, opening the way for new talks.
Since early June, the coalition parties have had to accomplish an even more difficult task – convincing everyone of their ability to work together. The Liberal Democratic (PLDM), Democratic (DPM) and Liberal (LP) parties spent over a month discussing conditions for the new ruling coalition, but they did come to an agreement. As part of the first compromise, the PLDM had to concede posts in the Cabinet of Ministers to meet the Liberals’ demands.
Indeed, the first problem arose before the government was even sworn in. The main candidate for the post of prime minister from the PLDM, Maia Sandu, demanded the leadership of the National Bank and General Prosecutor’s Office be replaced. As Sandu herself later said on ProTV, they did not even begin to consider this manoeuvre in the Liberal Party. Approval of her candidature, expected to be attained from all parties, was disrupted. As a result, the parties had to seek another emergency compromise, which resulted in the nomination of Valeriu Strelet, chairman of the PLDM’s parliamentary faction.
After all formalities related to the composition of the Cabinet of Ministers were settled, on 30 July, the next to last day of the spring parliamentary session, at the start of the sixth hour in the evening, the deputies voted to approve the new government. 52 persons supported the resolution and 41 opposed it. Maia Sandu, who had been working as the Education Minister for exactly three years, did not make it into the new cabinet.
Meanwhile, the government published a 55-page programme for 2015-18. All tasks were divided into 17 thematic sections. Notwithstanding the obvious variety, a single idea clearly runs through the entire document – the necessity of fighting corruption and implementing new financial reporting standards that will make the work of commercial and state companies as transparent as possible. Among the most important tasks specified in the programme were improving the economic situation, increasing the well-being of citizens, reforming the judicial system and law enforcement agencies, and preparing a new Labour Code. The coalition promises to invite experts from the European Union to address some of these tasks.
Foreign policy objectives have been defined in the least antagonistic manner possible. The situation in Ukraine is not emphasized. The programme pledges a balanced approach in all directions. The European vector is still the main one, but the need for also improving relations with Russia (in trade, energy and migration issues) is underscored. The development of humanitarian ties is promised for Transdniester. A deepening of the strategic partnership with Romania is planned, but, as Strelet later clarified, the two countries “do not set before themselves the task of potential merger into a unified state” (Publika.md).
The fact that corruption is the only problem to be struggled against can be considered a third example of compromise by the present coalition. The parties are not occupied with hunting down new enemies; all sharp corners have been smoothed over, and the whole set of external and internal problems has been set aside for later. Everything is being done to show that the government intends to act carefully while taking as few radical steps as possible.
In contrast to the previous experience with forming a coalition, the three parties are now demonstrating a noticeable ability to compromise. Many conflicts lie ahead, however. Meanwhile, disagreements between them are still apparent; even the combined parliamentary position they have is unstable (only 52 seats out of 101); and the public and opposition are critically inclined.
The opposition represented by Communists and Socialists has already begun to criticise the government, making statements about how the same people – whose ideas were unsuccessful – are in the new government as the old one. Now they are backing street protests against increased rates for electricity and gas.
The Liberal Party has already demonstrated that it is prepared to pursue an independent policy in matters of principle. So far, the other partners are able to find agreement with the Liberals or simply accept their position, but it is hardly likely that this will always be possible.
The government faces a difficult autumn due to the National Energy Regulatory Agency raising utility rates (electricity by 36% and gas by 15%). For now, the protests are few in number, but it is clear that they are gathering momentum.
New government of Moldova
Valeriu STRELEȚ – Prime Minister of Moldova;
Gheorghe BREGA – Deputy Prime Minister;
Victor OSIPOV – Deputy Prime Minister;
Stephane BRIDE – Deputy Prime Minister, Economics Ministry;
Natalia GHERMAN – Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign and European Integration Minister;
Anatol ARAPU – Finance Minister;
Mircea BUGA – Labour, Social Protection and Family Minister;
Oleg BALAN – Interior Minister;
Ion SULA – Agriculture and Food Industry Minister;
Loretta HANDRABURA – Youth and Sports Ministry;
Corina FUSU – Education Ministry;
Valeriu MUNTEANU – Environment Ministry;
Anatolie SALARU – Defence Minister;
Iurie CHIRINCIUC – Transport and Road Infrastructure Minister;
Vladimir CEBOTARI – Justice Minister;
Vasile BITCA – Regional Development and Constructions Minister;
Monica BABUC – Culture Minister;
Ruxanda GLAVAN – Health Minister;
Pavel FILIP – Information Technology and Communications Minister