Elections since independence

1991 presidential election

Marcea Snegur, a former communist party official who advocated independence, ran unopposed as an independent and was elected the first president of Moldova in 1991. 

Marcea Snegur (Moldova official presidential website)

Marcea Snegur (Moldova official presidential website)

Meanwhile, Moldovan politics became increasingly polarized between the Moldovan Popular Front (renamed in February 1992 the Popular Christian Democratic Party (PPCD) on one side and communist and post-communist forces on the other. From about 1993 a realignment began to take shape.

1994 parliamentary elections

In May 1993, the moderate nationalists, who opposed union with Romania, were expelled from the PPCD and founded the Social-Democratic Party of Moldova. In the parliamentary elections, the PPCD lost most of its support, retaining a mere 7.5% of the vote.

Two post-communist parties -- the Agrarian Party of Moldova, whose deputies were mostly village mayors and collective farm managers, and the former Communist Party, renamed the Social Democratic Party -- won the elections. Neither the Democratic Labor Party, representing the managers of large industrial enterprises, nor the Party of Reform, representing urban professionals supportive of private enterprise, overcame the 4% threshold necessary for a party to enter parliament.

A month after the election, a referendum was held in which over 90% of voters approved the continued independence of Moldova and rejected unification with Romania, thereby laying the issue to rest. In July parliament ratified a new constitution.

1996 presidential elections

Petru Lucinschi, who had been First Secretary of the Communist Party of Moldavia from 1989 to1991, defeated President Snegur.

 

Petru Lucinschi (Moldova presidential official website)

Petru Lucinschi (Moldova presidential official website)

 

1998 parliamentary elections

The post-communist parties lost their majority in the parliamentary elections of March 1998. Although the Communist Party of the Republic of Moldova, with 30% of the vote, did better than any other single party, a governing coalition of center-right parties (together representing 45% of voters) was formed under the name “Alliance for Democracy and Reforms,” led by former President Snegur.

International observers assessed Moldovan elections as largely free and fair. For most of the 1990s, Moldova had a mixed parliamentary-presidential system, with the president elected by popular vote.

In 2000, parliament amended the constitution to enable it to elect the president.

2001 parliamentary elections
Vladimir Voronin, third president of Moldova (NATO)

Vladimir Voronin, third president of Moldova (NATO)

The Communist Party won over 50% of the vote on pledges to bring Moldova closer to Russia and restore living standards to Soviet-era standards. The communists gained more than two-thirds of the seats in parliament, while the PPCD won only 11 seats. In March, the new parliament chose Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin as president.

Government pressures on opposition

In January 2002, the communist government responded to opposition demonstrations against compulsory Russian language classes in schools by suspending temporarily the activity of the PPCD. Relations between the government and the opposition were tense, and independent media (especially radio stations) were harassed.

2005 parliamentary elections

The elections produced a 56-seat majority (out of 101 seats) for the ruling Communist Party.   The Communist Party won 46% of the vote (down slightly) on a campaign emphasizing a pro-European orientation, the Democratic Moldova Bloc won 29% (doubling its previous showing), and the PPCD won about 10% (no change). The other 12 parties contesting the elections did not clear the 6% threshold.

The International Election Observation Mission concluded that the elections were generally in compliance with most OSCE and Council of Europe commitments and other international election standards.

2005 presidential election

Voronin easily won reelection by parliament as president with 75 votes, 14 more than required.

Continuing pressure on opposition

Amnesty International criticized Moldova in September 2006 for the arrest of nine NGO activists who held an anti-government demonstration.

2007 local elections

The Communist Party took 33 % of the votes, which was considerably less than the 54% it had won four years earlier. The Party Alliance Our Moldova  came in second with 14% of the votes.

The International Election Observation Mission noted that the local elections gave voters a genuine choice, and were generally well administered. Other aspects of the elections, however, fell short of international commitments. Intimidation of candidates was one of the major shortcomings. Media coverage of state authorities benefited pro-government candidates. There were also cases where local authorities failed to guarantee equal conditions for all parties and candidates.

First woman prime minister

 

Zinaida Greceani (Moldova government website)

Zinaida Greceani (Moldova government website)

In 2008, President Voronin nominated Deputy Prime Minister Zinaida Greceanii, another Communist, as the first woman prime minister in Moldova’s history.  

2009 parliamentary elections

The Communist Party again won a majority, 60 out of 101 seats, in the April election. The opposition Liberal, Liberal Democratic and Our Moldova Alliance Parties won, 15, 15 and 11 seats respectively. Turnout was 59.49 percent, above the 50 percent needed for the election to be valid.

The International Election Observation Mission reported that the election met many international standards and commitments, although further improvements were required to ensure an electoral process free from undue administrative interference and to increase public confidence.

Protests against the alleged election results

On the second day of the protest, an estimated 10,000 protesters stormed and ransacked the presidential office and parliament in reaction to the results that were announced on April 7, claiming that the election had been rigged. Opposition leaders backed the protests, but condemned the violence. Riot police retook the two buildings, leaving one dead, more than 270 police and demonstrators injured, and hundreds arrested.The 25-year old journalist, Natalia Morar, and several other young activists organized a demonstration in front of the Molodovan parliament to protest the election results.  The activists used the social media site Twitter.

At the time of the protests, the bodies of four Moldovans who had taken part in the demonstrations were also discovered. They had been tortured before being killed. It is believed that the Moldovan Ministry of Interior is responsible for their  deaths.

President Voronin reacted to accusations that the election had been rigged by asking the Constitutional Court to conduct a recount. The opposition dismissed his action as a trick, and said it would take no part in the process.

Meanwhile, Voronin accused protestors of acting on behalf of Romania to bring down his government. Russia and other members of the CIS backed Voronin. The U.S. and EU urged an end to violence.

The recount confirmed the Communist Party's win. Nonetheless, the Communist Party had not garnered the 61 parliamentary votes necessary to elect its candidate, Zinaida Greceani, to the presidency.

More elections do not resolve formation stalemate

Voronin dissolved parliament after it twice failed to elect a new president.  New parliamentary elections were held in July, giving four opposition parties 53 seats and the Communists 48 seats. The victors established a coalition, the Alliance for European Integration (AEI), which formed the new government. The AEI’s parliamentary speaker, Mihai Ghimpu, became Acting President.

Mihai Ghimpu (Wikimedia Commons)

Mihai Ghimpu (Wikimedia Commons)

Marian Lupu, leader of the Democratic Party (Council of Europe)

Marian Lupu, leader of the Democratic Party (Council of Europe)

But the AEI was unable to elect its candidate, Marian Lupu, to the presidency in two more  parliamentary ballots. The AEI was also unable to successfully amend the constitution in a popular referendum in 2010 due to insufficient voter turnout. With the presidential electoral process deadlocked, parliamentary speaker Ghimpu continued as Acting President.

2010 parliamentary elections

Due the failure of constitutional referendum, the Constitutional Court of Moldova ruled that acting president of Moldova, Mihai Ghimpu had to dissolve the parliament and hold new elections. 

New elections were held in November 2010. The AEI Coalition(Liberal Democratic, Democratic and Liberal Parties) ran against the Communist Party, winning 59 seats --2 short of the 61 needed to elect a President. Moldova's highest court ruled on 8 February 2011 that the government could stay in place without early elections even if it was still unable to elect a new president.

Observers from the OSCE and the Council of Europe lauded the election, with the head of the Parliamentary Assembly delegation of OSCE, Tonino Picula, saying "These elections reflected the will of the people".

December 2011 and January 2012 presidential elections

 

Due to parliament's inability to break their deadlock and elect a president, Moldova had an acting president for 900 days.  In December 2011 the Commission for Constitutional Reform in Moldova was established by presidential decree to resolve the constitutional crisis.  After the December election failed to elect a president, a second attempt was made in January 2012. However, that vote was annulled as being unconstitutional since it had not been held in a secret vote.

Current President of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti (Moldova presidential website)

Current President of Moldova, Nicolae Timofti (Moldova presidential website)

In March 2012, parliament elected Nicolae Timofti as president by 62 votes out of 101, putting an end to a political crisis that had lasted since 2009.

Governing coalition splits
Scandals and rivalries divide AEI

A series of scandals, accusations and political in-fighting since December 2012 led to the collapse of the governing AEI coalition.  Prime Minister Filat's criticism of an alleged cover-up by Prosecutor Valeriy Zubco of the shooting death of a businessman during a hunting trip led to Zubco's forced resignation.  (Participants in the hunting party included Zubco, and some 20 senior judges, prosecutors and state officials).  Zubco is affiliated with the Democratic Party (PDM), one of the AEI components. Subsequently, the PDM-controlled Anti-Corruption Center started investigating ministers from Filat's Liberal-Democratic Party (PLDM), its AEI partner (and rival). The corruption investigations--including in the Prime Minister's own office--received heavy attention in the PDM-controlled Prime and Publika tv channels. Filat responded by terminating the coalition agreement with the PDM, saying it had to be completely revised.

The AEI coalition's cohesion had been dependent on agreements giving each component party (and in practice their leaders) control of specific state institutions.  The result was that private interests and corruption drove some institutional agendas, including those of law enforcement and judicial bodies.

Vote of no-confidence passes

The Communists took advantage of the implosion of the AEI coalition to press a parliamentary motion of no-confidence.  The motion passed March 5 with the support of Communist, PDM and some independent deputies.  All of Lupu's PDM voted to bring down Filat's government.

Timofti reappoints prime minister(s)

Timofti reappointed Filat prime minister in April 2013.  Filat sought to rebuild the AEI coalition through concessions to the PDM, involving appointments in the law enforcement and judicial sectors.  These concessions backfired on Filat.

Responding to a petition by Ghimpu's Liberals (then aligned with the PDM but now split into two factions), the Constitutional Court ruled that reappointment of Filat would be illegal since a prime minister of a cabinet that had fallen after a no-confidence vote on suspicion of fraud cannot carry out its mandate.  Timofti then turned to Deputy Prime Minister Iurie Leanca from the PLDM and appointed him interim prime minister. Leanca had been Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration in the previous government.

Parliamentary response and international criticism

An ad hoc parliamentary majority of Filat's PLDM and Communists--each for its own reasons-- supported a legislative package to neutralize PDM leaders Lupu and Vlad Plahotniuc (Modova's wealthiest businessman and Lupu's financial backer) in early May 2013.  These measures included enabling parliament to remove judges of the Constitutional Court by a 3/5 majority of all members if the judges do not have the trust of parliament, raising the electoral threshold for election to parliament from 4 to 6%, and giving the prime minister the power to fire ministers and senior officials.  President Timofti vetoed the proposed law on the removal of constitutional court judges.

Although pro-European integration ministers retained their positions in the cabinet,  EU, Council of Europe and OSCE ODIHR officials criticized the new legislation as a threat to democracy and to closer ties between Moldova and Europe.

Leanca forms government

Leanca's government--based on a new "Coalition of Pro-European Rule" consisting of Liberal Democrats, Democrats and a faction of the Liberals-- won a vote of confidence at the end of May 2013 with the backing of 31 Liberal Democrats, 15 Democrats,7 Liberals, 3 breakaway Communists, and 2 independent MPs.

Iurie Leanca (Government of Moldova Website)

Iurie Leanca (Government of Moldova Website)

Vlad Plahotniuc (flickr)

Vlad Plahotniuc (flickr)

 

Parliamentary elections in 2014

Parliamentary elections should be held in November 2014.