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Moldova, Government

Supreme Court of Justice, Parlamentul, urban municipalities, Peace program, paramilitary force

Moldova ratified a new constitution in 1994 to replace the one of the Soviet period. The constitution confirmed Moldova’s status as an independent and democratic republic. It guarantees that all citizens aged 18 and older may vote and provides for various other civil rights and freedoms.

The president of Moldova is head of state. The president is elected by the Parliament to a four-year term and may serve no more than two consecutive terms. Before 2000 the president was directly elected. The president nominates the prime minister and, upon his or her recommendation, the cabinet. The prime minister and the cabinet must be approved by the Parliament. The president is empowered to dissolve the Parliament. The constitution provides that the president may be impeached for criminal or constitutional offenses.

The Parliament (Parlamentul) is the supreme legislative body of Moldova. A unicameral (single-chamber) assembly, it consists of 101 deputies, who are directly elected for four-year terms. The Parliament convenes for two ordinary sessions per year and may hold extraordinary sessions as well. In addition to enacting laws and performing other basic legislative functions, the Parliament is empowered to declare a state of emergency, martial law, and war.

Moldova’s judicial system includes the Supreme Court of Justice (the country’s highest court), the Court of Appeal, and the Constitutional Court. Tribunals and courts of law adjudicate at the local level. There is also a Higher Magistrates’ Council, which is composed of 11 magistrates who serve for a period of five years. The council acts to ensure the appointment, transfer, and promotion of judges. The president of Moldova appoints judges to the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Justice after the Higher Magistrates’ Council makes its recommendations. The judges are initially appointed for five-year terms; their terms may then be renewed for a period of ten years, after which they may continue to serve until they reach retirement age. The Constitutional Court is the supreme authority on constitutional matters; its decisions are not subject to appeal. It is composed of six judges—two chosen by the president, two by the Parliament, and two by the Higher Magistrates’ Council—who each serve for six years.

For purposes of local government, Moldova is divided into 38 districts, 1 autonomous region (Gagauz-Eri), and 10 urban municipalities (including Chisinau). The municipalities are administered separately from the districts. All of the local jurisdictions are governed by locally elected councils. The prefects and mayors of districts and municipalities are appointed by Moldova’s president after being nominated by the local councils.

The 1994 constitution included a provision to give the Gagauz and Trans-Dniester regions autonomous status, although the terms of self-governance were to be determined through later negotiations. Revision of this special status would require a three-fifths vote of the Parliament. In December of that year, the Moldovan Parliament passed the Law on the Special Status of Gagauz-Eri. Ratified by a local election in the Gagauz region in March 1995, the law allows Gagauz-Eri substantial autonomy, while keeping foreign policy, defense, and monetary issues in the hands of the Moldovan government. The Moldovan government and leadership in the Trans-Dniester region have yet to reach a settlement on Trans-Dniester’s official status.

Moldova has many political parties. Those represented in the government include the Communist Party of Moldova, the Democratic Convention, and the Bloc for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova. The Communists won the greatest number of seats (but not a majority) in the parliamentary elections of 1998. The Communists succeeded in winning a majority of the seats in the elections of 2001.

During the Soviet period, all armed forces were part of a centralized security system. After Moldova gained independence from the USSR, the government of the republic began to create a national defense force. In 2001 Moldova’s armed forces numbered 8,220 personnel; most were in the army, with 800 in the air force. In addition, Moldova has a paramilitary force of about 2,500 (attached to the Ministry of the Interior) and a riot police force of 900. Military service is compulsory for 18-year-old males for up to 18 months. The 1994 constitution established Moldova as a permanently neutral state.

Moldova is a member of the United Nations (UN), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Partnership for Peace program of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the Council of Europe (CE).

Article key phrases:

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