The European Union and Russia have both come out in support of a coalition government in Moldova, long on the fault line between East and West, in a dispute that has left the country of 3.5 million with two presidents and two governments.
The pro-Russian Socialist Party of President Igor Dodon made a surprise announcement it was forming a government with the Acum party, which seeks closer ties with the EU, in order to block a party backed by the country’s richest man, Vladimir Plahotniuc, from power. Following the move, the Constitutional Court forced Dodon out and named an ally of the tycoon to lead, claiming the coalition had missed the deadline to form a government.
Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the capital, Chisinau, in support of the court’s decision, which named former Prime Minister Pavel Filip interim president. Dodon has refused to acknowledge the ruling and is setting up a new government.
The unusual spectacle of Brussels and Moscow backing the same horse in a former Soviet republic comes after years of corruption and misrule have contributed to make Moldova one of Europe’s poorest countries. The country’s judges have been criticised by the international community for their lack of independence in the past, including last year, when the EU suspended 100 million euros ($113 million) of aid after a court overturned the election for mayor of Chisinau.
“The main responsibility for the new crisis lies with Vladimir Plahotniuc, who is trying to torpedo the unfavourable results of the elections for a second time,” Iulian Fota, a foreign policy analyst and former presidential adviser, said. “He clearly realises he can’t retain power anymore and he’s trying to bargain some sort of exit.”
Filip has announced snap elections on September 6, while Dodon’s coalition also seeks an early vote.
The crisis started brewing after February elections left the three main parties each with about one-third of parliament. The chamber had three months to form a government after the results were confirmed or face a new vote. The court ruled that deadline had passed after 90 days, while the coalition argues that the law allows three calendar months to form a government.
Both Moscow and Brussels have come out in support of the elected government.