Moldova moved closer to early elections that could push it back into Russia’s fold after its president and a coalition of largely pro-EU parties failed on January 13 to compromise over who could pull the country out of a protracted government crisis.
The poor ex-Soviet country has been led by an interim government since late October, when parliament sacked a pro-EU cabinet on the heels of a corruption scandal.
And President Nicolae Timofti refused on January 13 to endorse for prime minister a businessman turned politician, Vlad Plahotniuc, saying he lacks “integrity.” Plahotniuc’s backers, who have a majority in parliament, called the president’s arguments “groundless,” and vowed to put forward his candidacy again.
Many in Moldova suspect Plahotniuc of controlling the country’s judiciary and using that influence to prosecute several rivals, including former Prime Minister Vlad Filat, who is awaiting trial in a corruption case.
Thousands of people marched through the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on January 13 to protest against Plahotniuc’s nomination, saying it was unlikely to bring an end to the protracted government crisis that started in October, when parliament sacked a pro-EU government on the heels of the corruption scandal.
Legal experts in Moldova now say it is increasingly likely that the deepening political deadlock will lead to early elections.
According to opinion polls, snap elections could be won by pro-Russian parties that want to renegotiate Moldova’s Association Agreement with the EU and stronger ties with Moscow.
In an interview with RFE/RL, Igor Dodon, the leader of the popular pro-Russian Socialist Party, said the confrontation between the Moldovan president and the pro-EU coalition means that Moldova will probably have early elections “at the end of March or early April.”