February 24, 2019
With a voter turnout of 51%, the election produced a hung parliament. While the opposition Party of the Socialists of the Republic of Moldova received the most seats (35) it could not secure a parliamentary majority. The incumbent Democratic Party of Moldova came in second, obtaining 30 seats, and the liberal pro-EU Action and Solidarity Party became the third biggest force in Parliament with 27 seats. Coalition negotiations are still ongoing.
- Unicameral parliament in a unitary parliamentary republic; the chamber counts 101 deputies elected for 4 years.
- Mixed electoral system (adopted in 2017): 51 single-member constituencies (majority) and 1 nationwide constituency for 50 seats (proportional); parties must get 6% of the vote to enter parliament, independent candidates 2%.
- Vote will also include a referendum on reducing seat number in parliament, from 101 to 61 (favoring the ruling party).
- Incumbent: Prime Minister Pavel Filip (Democratic Party of Moldova) heads the pro-European governing coalition. The presidency is held by pro-Russian Socialist Igor Dodon (PSRM).
- Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) : populist, democratic socialist; pro-Russian, anti-NATO and Euroskeptic stances; anti-Romanian; anti-LGBT. Currently holds presidency under Igor Dodon.
- Democratic Party of Moldova (PDM) : center-left, social democratic; pro-EU, open to engagement with NATO; anti-Russia; led by oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc who wields enormous power in Moldova.
- Action and Solidarity (PAS) : center-right, liberal; pro-EU; led by former Minister of Education of Moldova, Maia Sandu.
- Dignity and Truth (PDA) : center-right, populist; pro-European; anti-corruption; led by lawyer and former prosecutor Andrei Nastase.
- Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PCRM) : communist, populist; Euroskeptic; proponent of Moldevenism, which promotes Moldovan identity and culture; electorate has mostly been absorbed by PSRM.
- Liberal Party (PL) : center-right, liberalist; pro-EU; supports unification of Moldova and Romania.
Impact on U.S. and transatlantic interests
- Since 1992, the United States has provided over $1.5 billion in assistance to Moldova; it currently provides around $25 million/year (strengthening economic growth and competitiveness, reforms to improve the business climate, developing democratic governance).
- Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the EU in 2014, but in 2018 the European Union passed a resolution recognizing Moldova as a “state captured by oligarchic interests” and suspended macro-financial assistance to the Moldovan government.
- Russia has de-facto occupied Transnistria where 1,400 Russian “peacekeepers” have remained since 1993. In January, the “Official Representation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic in the Russian Federation” (Transnistria) opened in Moscow—another sign of Russia’s desire to retain influence in Moldova. Russia has also imposed sanctions and placed embargoes against agricultural and goods imported from Moldova since it signed its agreement with the EU. This action has harmed the Moldovan economy and negatively impacted pro-Russian Moldovan parties.
Key Issues to Watch
- Plahotniuc and Dodon are political rivals but both benefit from a highly publicized electoral fight between their respective parties over Moldova’s future geopolitical trajectory. This fight sidelines reformist and anticorruption opposition parties, encouraging Russia-skeptic voters to back an unpopular oligarch (Plahotniuc) and Euroskeptic voters to rally behind a pro-Russian voice (Dodon).
- A hung parliament (most likely outcome) with neither a pro-Russian nor pro-European majority could place Moldova in a political grey zone—not oriented towards any one bloc, but no longer on a clear path to integration with the EU. This would represent a significant victory for Moscow, especially given bolstered EU efforts to integrate Moldova following the Euromaidan demonstrations in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014. There could also be less accountability by Brussels over Moldova’s leadership.
- A more ideologically mixed parliament, combined with the EU’s suspension of aid to the Moldovan government due to democratic backsliding, could lead Moldova to seek closer economic ties with Russia, Turkey, or China. However, 70 percent of Moldova’s exports go to the EU and its deteriorating investment climate is risky for all investors.
- Around 40 percent of Moldovans receive their news and information at least partially from Russian broadcast media. The prevalence of Russian TV in Moldova solidifies political attitudes: pro–NATO sentiment tends to stand at around 20-25 percent, while negative attitudes towards NATO hold at over 50 percent. In 2017, 62 percent of Moldovans named Russian President Vladimir Putin as their favorite foreign politician.
- Support for Moldova's integration with the European Union fell from 67 percent in 2009 to just 38 percent in 2016. However, many Moldovans remain wary of Russia, which has proven an unreliable trade partner.
- The new mixed electoral system adopted in 2017 risks disadvantaging other political parties through the first-past-the-post system for 51 constituencies.
Data source: International Republic Institute (12/05/18-01/16/19).