The politics of Moldova takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic republic, wherein the prime minister heads the government, and of a multi-party system. The government exercises executive power. Legislative power is vested in the Parliament. The judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. The position of the breakaway region of Transnistria (a self-proclaimed autonomous region, on the left side of the river Nistru), relations with Romania and with Russia, and integration into the EU dominate political discussions.
The Moldovan Parliament (Parlamentul) has 101 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation. The president is elected for a four-year term by parliament.
The seat of the legislature is known simply as the Parliament Building.
In the 2010 Parliamentary election, the Communists won 42 seats, while the Liberal-Democrats won 32, the Democratic Party won 15, and the Liberals won 12. This gave the Alliance for European Integration 59 seats, two short of the 61 needed to elect a President. The result thus maintained the status quo following the contemperaneous constitutional deadlock.
Observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe lauded the election.
The president is elected by the Parliament for a four-year term. According to the Moldovan constitution, the president, on consulting with the parliament, will designate a candidate for the office of prime minister; within 15 days from designation, the prime minister-designate will request a vote of confidence from the parliament regarding his/her work program and entire cabinet. The cabinet is selected by prime minister-designate, subject to approval of parliament. The cabinet meets at Government House on Stephen the Great Boulevard in Central Chișinău.
The 16 ministries of the Government of Moldova are:Ministry of Internal Affairs of Moldova
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Transport and Roads Infrastructure
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration
Ministry of Economy
Ministry of Education
Ministry of Construction and Regional Development
Ministry of Labor, Family and Social Protection
Ministry of Defense
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Agriculture and Food Industry
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Culture
Ministry of Environment
Ministry of Youth and Sports
Ministry of Informational Technologies and Communication
Moldova is divided into 32 raions, or raioane, three municipalities (Chişinău, Bălţi and Bender), one autonomous region (Gagauzia), and the breakaway region of Transnistria, the status of which is disputed.
The underlying issue in The Republic of Moldova revolves around whether or not the country should reunite with Romania, with which it shares a common ethnicity, language, culture and history. The country was subject to Russification after being annexed by the Russian Empire in 1812, after which, Russian imperial and soviet-era identity politics focused on stressing artificial differences between Moldovans and Romanians in order to create a uniquely Moldovan identity, such as by calling the language "Moldovan" rather than "Romanian." Today Moldova is effectively bilingual, with a Romanian speaking majority and a sizable and influential, multiethnic, Russian-speaking minority. The Russian speaking population is generally pro-Russian and anti-unification, and has typically voted for the left leaning parties, while the Moldovan majority is divided between pro-Russian sympathies and growing pro-Romanian and pro-EU sympathies, with a growing number of people supporting the idea of eventual re-unification with Romania.
There is disagreement as to whether elections and politics in Moldova are carried out in a free and democratic climate on the part of certain organizations. The United States Senate has held committee hearings on irregularities that marred elections in Moldova, including arrests and harassment of opposition candidates, intimidation and suppression of independent media, and state run media bias in favor of candidates backed by the Communist-led Moldovan Government. Other critics have also referred to the Communist Party government as being authoritarian. Nevertheless, George W. Bush stated that: "We note and welcome Moldova's positive record since independence in conducting free and fair elections and in implementing democratic reforms."
There have also been reports of politically motivated arrests and arrests without valid legal grounds. Such arrests are allegedly carried out against opponents of the Communist Party government of President Vladimir Voronin. In one case which was criticized by various Western organizations and individuals, opposition politician Valeriu Pasat was sentenced to ten years imprisonment on dubious grounds.
Moldova had successfully joined the World Trade Organization and the Southeast European Stability Pact in 2001. Of primary importance have been the government's efforts to improve relations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and to comply with agreements negotiated in 2000 by the former government. Agreement in these areas was critical, because large government debts that were due in 2002 had to be rescheduled. The government has made concerted efforts to find ways to pay for Moldova's energy supplies.
Political parties and other groups publish newspapers, which often criticize government policies. There are several independent news services, radio stations, and an independent television station. Peaceful assembly is allowed, though permits for demonstrations must be obtained; private organizations, including political parties, are required to register with the government. Legislation passed in 1992 codified freedom of religion but required that religious groups be recognized by the government.
A 1990 Soviet law and a 1991 parliamentary decision authorizing formation of social organizations provide for independent trade unions. However, the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Moldova, successor to the former organizations of the Soviet trade union system, is the sole structure. It has tried to influence government policy in labor issues and has been critical of many economic policies. Moldovan labor law, which is based on former Soviet legislation, provides for collective bargaining rights.
Due to the high rate of poverty, Moldova remains a large source-country of illegal sex workers that are exported to Western Europe, Russia and the Middle East. Because of pervasive corruption and a general lack of awareness, many victims of human trafficking are lured into the business with offers of high-salary jobs abroad, and are often trapped once out of the country. The US government urged Moldova to pass an anti-trafficking law in 2005, but due to a lack of enforcement, low regard of legal institutions, and unequal benchmark requirements, clear progress is difficult to ascertain. Organizations such as the International Organization for Migration provide non-governmental support integral to helping victims. However, NGOs are often subject to domestic constraints and government interference in their work, complicating their operations.
Transnistria (Pridnestyrovie) is a strip of land running along Moldova's eastern border with Ukraine, named after the Nistru (Dniestr) river. The Transnistrian region is majority slavic and russophone, in contrast with the rest of the country, and it was heavily industrialized during USSR rule. The Moldovan Declaration of Independence clearly and directly claims a continuation of Moldovan sovereignty over the territory of Transnistria as it is "a component part of the historical and ethnic territory of our people". However the Moldovan Declaration of Independence is itself used as an argument against Moldovan sovereignty over Transnistria as it denounces the Ribbentrop-Molotov agreement of 23 August 1939 between the government of the Soviet Union and the government of Germany "null and void" being the only formal union between the two territories.
After failing to establish control over the breakaway region in the War of Transnistria, Moldova offered a rather broad cultural and political autonomy to the region. The dispute has strained Moldova's relations with Russia. The July 1992 cease-fire agreement established a tripartite peacekeeping force composed of Moldovan, Russian, and Transnistrian units. Negotiations to resolve the conflict continue, and the cease-fire is still in effect. The OSCE is trying to facilitate a negotiated settlement and has had an observer mission in place for several years.
The country remains divided, with the Transnistrian region controlled by separatist forces, supported de facto by a contingency of Russian troops officially posing as a peacekeeping mission.