Season premiere: ex-president promises new protests to Moldova

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Another political crisis flared up in Moldova. Former President Igor Dodon has promised to bring tens of thousands of people to a mass rally if the current leader Maia Sandu does not nominate a prime minister for parliamentary approval by February 1. According to him, by doing so, the politician “violated the constitution and usurped power.” The president is delaying the choice of the head of government, seeking to dissolve parliament as soon as possible and arrange early elections in order to get as many of his supporters into the legislature as possible. Details – in the material “Izvestia”.

Intruder and usurper

“If the President of Moldova and its accomplices continue to violate constitutional norms and play these games, we reserve the right to take all constitutional measures against the President of the country and all legal actions, including mass protests against the usurpers of state power,” said the chairman of the Party of Socialists (PSRM), former president Igor Dodon.

The politician notes that the state needs a functional government, so his party insists that the head of the republic, Maia Sandu, nominate the candidacy of the prime minister by February 1 – on this day, the session of parliament will begin. According to Dodon, the president, trying to interpret the country’s constitution in his own way, “is making an attempt to usurp power.”

President of Moldova Maia Sandu before meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel in Brussels

President of Moldova Maia Sandu before meeting with President of the European Council Charles Michel in Brussels

Photo: REUTERS / Johanna Geron

“What is happening now is total uncertainty, caused mainly by the inaction and violation of the constitution by the president of the country. We have no government, and the president is afraid to take responsibility and puts on all sorts of shows to cover up his fear, hiding behind foreign policy. But there, too, her actions are mostly ineffectual, ”the leader of the Socialist Party said. He also noted that tens of thousands of people may come out to protest at the presidential administration building.

The former head of state believes that Sandu’s current stay in power in the country is “the second complete failure” (she was prime minister from June to November 2019). “The President of the country demands the resignation of the government, leads people to protest in the midst of a pandemic. Maia Sandu’s party initiates a vote of no confidence and demands the urgent resignation of the government. The government resigned. And what follows next? The President of the country begins to put pressure on the ministers not to resign. She doesn’t want to take responsibility, to appoint another government. It is absolutely clear that Sandu does not know how to proceed, she has no solution, ”Dodon was indignant.

Vicious circle

The chairman of the Party of Socialists noted that according to the basic law of the country, after consultations with parliamentary factions, the head of state was obliged to nominate a candidate for prime minister. Dodon intends to appeal to the Constitutional Court to explain to him what is the maximum period during which the president after the resignation of the government must propose a candidate for prime minister, as well as what punishment may face the head of the republic who did not do this.

Parliament building of Moldova

Photo: REUTERS / Gleb Garanich

The fact is that Sandu’s Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) is trying to get the Constitutional Court to dissolve parliament if two-thirds of its members vote in favor. Representatives of the PAS faction Mihai Popshoy and Dan Perchun have already addressed this issue to the Constitutional Court (CC). However, on January 18, the chairperson of the Constitutional Court, Domnika Manole, announced that the request of politicians had been rejected, since “the parliament cannot be dissolved by the vote of two-thirds of the deputies.” She noted that in the constitution there are two clear reasons for the dissolution of parliament: if he cannot appoint a prime minister or if he does not pass any laws for three months. In this regard, the Moldovan edition NM notes that President Sandu “has no choice but to propose a candidate for prime minister.”

“They don’t play with the constitution”

Now the majority of the seats in parliament are held by the Party of Socialists and the For Moldova group. The next elections are to be held in 2023. Prime Minister Ion Chicu (Party of Socialists) resigned on 23 December last year – the day before Maia Sandu took up her presidency after defeating Igor Dodon. Together with Kiku, heads of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Finance and the Economic Department Viorica Dumbrevyanu, Sergei Pushkutsa and Anatoly Usatii left the government. The opposition demanded their resignation and even initiated a vote of no confidence in the government in parliament, but they did not have time to consider the proposal, as the prime minister announced the voluntary resignation of the cabinet. The Sandu party, which insisted on this and threatened with protests if the ministers did not leave their posts, called the government’s departure a sabotage and even promised to appeal to the Constitutional Court.

After consulting with parliamentary factions, President Sandu promised to propose ways out of the political and economic crisis in the coming days, adding that “the government appointed by the socialists remains, and according to the current legislation, one of the current ministers will act as prime minister.” The Socialist Party reacted rather skeptically to the consultations with Sandu, complaining that the head of state tried to find out the opinion of the deputies on various issues instead of proposing their decisions and nominating a candidate for the post of head of government.

Meeting of the Parliament of Moldova in Kishev

Meeting of the Parliament of Moldova in Kishev

Photo: REUTERS / Valentyn Ogirenko

Sandu wants to hold early elections in order to strengthen his position in parliament. However, the majority of MPs are against early voting. The President does not propose a candidate for a new head of government, as he fears that the deputies can support any politician in order not to give grounds for the dissolution of parliament. If the legislature does not vote twice for the presidential candidate for prime minister, then the head of state can also dissolve parliament.

The Moldovan expert in the field of constitutional law, Alexander Arsenie, believes that Maia Sandu has no other choice but to nominate a candidate for prime minister. “This is a peremptory norm. The President is obliged to do this. I have heard revolutionary ideas that the president may not propose anyone, but this is banditry in the constitutional sense. They don’t play with the constitution, ”the expert noted. Arseny also added that if the head of state does not fulfill his duties and does not nominate any candidate for the post of head of government, the question of removing the president from office can be submitted to a referendum.

The expert also stressed that a violation of the Moldovan constitution would be a situation in which the head of state would be obliged to approve the candidate proposed by the parliamentary majority. “The President himself determines the candidate [в премьеры]… This is his discretion. He may or may not listen to parliamentary factions, but the choice of a candidate is the responsibility of the president, ”explained Arseniy.

“A tactical political move”

As noted in an interview with Izvestia, a senior researcher at the IMEMO named after EAT. Primakov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, RIAC expert Dmitry Ofitserov-Belsky, the current situation in the country is still far from a political crisis. “This is a typical bargaining situation for Moldova. All parties are not ready to dissolve parliament. If parliamentary elections take place, it will not happen in the near future. At best, in late spring. The parties will try to find a compromise throughout the entire time, ”the political scientist explained.

Clashes with police outside the Moldovan parliament in Kishinev.  December 16, 2020

Clashes with police outside the Moldovan parliament in Kishinev. December 16, 2020


In his opinion, Sandu does not propose a candidate for the post of prime minister, since neither she nor other representatives of her party would like to take responsibility for what is happening in the country now. “The situation with the coronavirus and the restrictions imposed in this regard negatively affected the economy of Moldova, and agriculture, which employs a very large number of people, was hit hard by a severe drought that lasted throughout the summer and early autumn. So, everything is very difficult in Moldova, ”the expert explained.

As for the protest actions that Igor Dodon promises, then, according to the associate professor of the Russian State Humanitarian University, expert of the Russian Council on International Affairs Alexander Gushchin, the former president uses this as a means of informational pressure on Maia Sanda. “This is more of a political game than a real opportunity to bring people out into the streets. There may be some kind of rallies, but they will definitely not be serious protests. The socialists, represented by Dodon, are trying to present Sanda as a person who pursues a destructive line without appointing a government. This is a tactical political move, ”the political scientist said in a conversation with Izvestia. The expert is sure that early parliamentary elections cannot be avoided in any case. “They will take place sooner or later. The socialists will try to use Sandu’s weak positions and the fact that she does not appoint a prime minister in their election campaign, ”Gushchin is sure.

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