Moldova: from oligarchic pluralism to Plahotniuc’s hegemony

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Series Details Number 208
Publication Date 11/04/2016
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Moldova’s political system took shape due to the six-year rule of the Alliance for European Integration coalition but it has undergone a major transformation over the past six months. Resorting to skilful political manoeuvring and capitalising on his control over the Moldovan judiciary system, Vlad Plahotniuc, one of the leaders of the nominally pro-European Democratic Party and the richest person in the country, was able to bring about the arrest of his main political competitor, the former prime minister Vlad Filat, in October 2015. Then he pushed through the nomination of his trusted aide, Pavel Filip, for prime minister. In effect, Plahotniuc has concentrated political and business influence in his own hands on a scale unseen so far in Moldova’s history since 1991. All this indicated that he already not only controlled the judiciary, the anti-corruption institutions, the Constitutional Court and the economic structures, but had also subordinated the greater part of parliament and was rapidly tightening his grip on the section of the state apparatus which until recently was influenced by Filat.

Plahotniuc, whose power and position depended directly on his control of the state apparatus and financial flows in Moldova, was not interested in a structural transformation of the country or in implementing any thorough reforms; this included the Association Agreement with the EU. This meant that as his significance grew, the symbolic actions so far taken with the aim of a structural transformation of the country would become even more superficial. Furthermore, the Moldovan government system, which had become monopolised by a single political centre, was very unstable. This was so because Plahotniuc’s position strengthened, while 95% of the public declared a dislike of him. Given the arrogant manner in which Plahotniuc’s camp took power in the country, all this had rekindled protest sentiments, which were nevertheless unlikely to change the political situation in Moldova. It also seemed unlikely that this situation could be affected by the restrained reactions from Moldova’s Western partners.

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