Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 44

By a margin of one vote among 101 participating deputies, the Moldovan parliament yesterday approved the composition and program of a right-of-center government. The Communist Party (CP), which holds forty seats, voted against, while the “right-wing” Popular Front (PF), which holds ten, abstained. These two parties immediately challenged the validity of the investiture. They cite an earlier ruling by the Constitutional Court, requiring a minimum of fifty-two votes to pass legislation.

The new government therefore is unable to take office until that issue is resolved. The predecessor government headed by Ion Ciubuc remains in office in a caretaker capacity, legally powerless to initiate legislation or issue decrees. Ciubuc’s government had resigned on February 1, after barely ten months in office, brought down by the economic crisis and a revolt of young radical reformers encouraged by President Petru Lucinschi against the old-line bureaucrat Ciubuc (see the Monitor, February 1, 19).

The would-be new government is a coalition of the Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (MDPM, “centrist” and pro-presidential), the Party of Rebirth and Conciliation (PRC, “right-of-center,” led by former president Mircea Snegur), and the Party of Democratic Forces (PDF, “rightist,” an offshoot of the anti-Soviet national movement). These parties hold twenty-four, seventeen and ten parliamentary seats, respectively, making up the fifty-one votes garnered by the new government. Prime Minister designate Ion Sturza is a successful private businessman who pressed for reforms as deputy prime minister in the previous government. Sturza and the finance minister designate, Anatol Arapu–both affiliated with the MDPM–enjoy the esteem of international financial institutions and banks. The new government’s program is boldly reformist amid a disastrous economic situation and latent social unrest.

The same three parties plus the Popular Front (PF) had formed the Ciubuc government and a viable parliamentary majority of sixty-one, which had isolated the forty-strong Communist opposition. But the PF defected from that coalition after failing to obtain two key ministries–of finance and of state affairs–and a string of deputy ministerships for the PF in the new government, on top of the PF’s existing share of portfolios and its vice-chairmanship of parliament. The PF was demanding an augmentation of power wholly disproportionate to its political weight. The other three parties were willing to discuss certain concessions but rejected what they termed “political blackmail.” The PF then made good on its threat to join the communists in blocking the approval of the new government (Flux, Basapress, March 3).