Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 99

Moldova’s three non-communist parties yesterday completed the lengthy and tense negotiations among themselves and with President Petru Lucinschi over the formation of the new cabinet of ministers. The parliament approved the new cabinet the same day, two months after the March 22 parliamentary elections. The Communist Party, which holds forty out of 101 parliamentary seats, voted against the cabinet but was unable to influence the outcome.

The difficulties in forming the cabinet stemmed from the pro-Romanian groups’ bid to obtain a large share of power. Their demands may have corresponded to their weight in the tripartite parliamentary coalition, but were disproportionate to their electoral performance. Those groups sought to shape the composition of the cabinet through informal bargaining outside the constitutional framework. However, Lucinschi and his prime minister-designate Ion Ciubuc insisted on using their constitutional prerogatives, which give them decisive leverage on choosing the ministers. These two leaders and the pro-presidential Bloc for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (BMDP), led by Parliament Chairman Dumitru Diacov, ultimately ensured the formation of a relatively balanced cabinet. Former president Mircea Snegur’s party–or, at times, a section of this party–agreed to some concessions at the expense of its ally, the Popular Front.

The Ciubuc government’s principal figures are:

–Deputy Prime Ministers Valentin Dolganiuc, the Popular Front’s nominee for Prime Minister; Nicolae Andronic, the real motor of the Snegur party; and Ion Sturza of BMDP, a successful private businessman, who in addition to the deputy premiership also holds the post of minister of economics and reform.

–Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru, Defense Minister Valeriu Passat, and National Security Minister Tudor Botnaru, all holdovers from the previous government. Tabacaru and Passat are politically loyal to the president and/or the BMDP. Botnaru served as State Security chief in two previous cabinets irrespective of their political colors. The cabinet does not appear to include any ethnic Russian minister.

The pro-presidential forces had to yield the Education Ministry to the Romanian-oriented Party of Democratic Forces. This will probably thwart initiatives to introduce specifically Moldovan–as distinct from Romanian–history and literature courses in the school curriculum.

The stage should now be set for the resumption of economic reforms during the window-of-opportunity years 1998 and 1999, before the presidential election scheduled for 2000. (Flux, Basapress, May 21. See also the Monitor, May 1; and Diacov’s and Ciubuc’s profiles in the Monitor, April 24 and May 7.)