Moldova Descends (Farther) from EU

Moldova’s shrinking commitment to democracy has taken more damage this week amidst news last week that the country’s parliament had accorded itself the power to fire constitutional judges and to change election rules, in response to the ongoing constitutional crisis in the former Soviet republic. Yet it is the surrounding political morass that truly threatens Moldova’s future.

This situation is not as simple as international news media portray it. As reported in March, the former prime minister, Vlad Filat, suffered a no confidence vote and resigned after demanding that his former political ally, the country’s chief prosecutor, resign. That prosecutor, Valeriu Zubco, refused to prosecute an illegal hunting party of which he was part and which incidentally resulted in a death. The prosecutor then made matters worse by refusing to report the hunting expedition (or who fired the killing shot) and hid his own weapon.

Filat rationally demanded Zubco’s resignation, which he duly received. However, Zubco’s Democratic Party, Filat’s ally, felt slighted, and so launched the successful no-confidence vote. Filat resigned.

In an ordinary democracy, that would end matters. In Moldova, it did not. Filat attempted to continue as a caretaker prime minister until new elections could be called (a fairly ordinary turn of events) and planned to run again (also normal). The Constitutional Courts, stocked with Democratic Party members, ruled that he could do neither.

Moldova is now without a prime minister, having only caretaker prime minister Iurie Leancă (a Filat ally) holding down the job and acting as Filat’s proxy. Parliament’s speaker was fired in a wave of political infighting last week, and the head-of-state president is caught between competing factions.

The EU’s frequently quixotic institutions are criticizing the latest moves as undemocratic, but their leverage is slim. Moldovans are fighting over the poorest country in Europe, and there is as yet no sign of an end to this impasse. Former allies have turned on each other and the future of European integration — and more importantly, civil society and government harmony — in Moldova is now in doubt.

This mess will become worse before it becomes better.

Image By Вени Марковски (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.