Moldova’s government collapses after just five months in office

The Moldovan government, led by prime minister Maia Sandu, lost a vote of no-confidence in the country’s parliament on November 12, just five months after taking office.

The no-confidence motion was put forward by the Moldovan Socialist party (PSRM), erstwhile coalition partners of Ms Sandu’s ACUM alliance. Of the Moldovan parliament’s 101 lawmakers, 63 voted for the government’s dismissal.

The PSRM – which backs the country’s president, Igor Dodon – and ACUM formed an unlikely coalition in June in order to remove a government led by the Democratic party, whose leader, the oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, is widely considered the most powerful person in the country.

Splits in the coalition appeared almost immediately however, and the two parties were at loggerheads in the country’s recent local elections, particularly in the capital Chișinău, where the PSRM candidate Ion Ceban defeated the ACUM candidate Andrei Nastase.

The latest row, and the primary cause of the no-confidence motion, was the reluctance of Mr Dodon and the PSRM to accept Ms Sandu’s proposed changes to the legal system, which she claimed were necessary to ensure an independent judiciary.

“Reforming the justice system is one of the main priorities of the ACUM government,” said Ms Sandu during the no-confidence debate. “We want real justice, and we want those who stole billions to go to jail. That’s what society expects, including PSRM voters.”

Ms Sandu is now required to resign within three days, with President Dodon expected to nominate a new prime minister who will have 90 days to form a government. A new coalition between the PSRM and the Democratic party – who have collaborated before – is the most likely outcome, with ACUM, which is backed by the European Union and most of Moldova’s western partners, likely to be frozen out.

The collapse of the government will put much-needed European Union financial assistance at risk. Payments were unfrozen only in June after Ms Sandu’s government renewed its commitment to fighting corruption and money laundering.