Moldova, until recently a darling of European Union officials, experienced a sudden deepening of its political crisis on Monday (22 March) when the country's constitutional court ruled that Prime Minister Vlad Filat should not be allowed to create a new government.
The decision further jeopardises Moldova's bid to secure a new formal relationship with the EU at the Vilnius summit of the EU's Eastern Partnership in November. Its hopes that EU member states would sign the association agreement that has been under negotiation had already been dampened by the government's collapse in March. There are now similar doubts about the prospects of at least finalising an accompanying free-trade agreement. The absence of a political counterpart for the EU has already stalled the delivery of tens of millions of euros of funding for the country this year, an official said.
The constitutional court stated that President Nicolae Timofti should not have asked Filat to continue as interim prime minister after he lost a vote of no confidence in March that cited suspicions of corruption. It added that in a rule-of-law state, politicians under “suspicion” of corruption should not hold political posts. No formal charges of corruption have been announced against Filat.
Timofti's office called the decision a “constitutional disaster”, while Filat branded the decision “political”. The EU has not commented.
Timofti named Iurie Leanca?, the foreign minister, as acting premier on Tuesday (23 March), pending likely early elections.
Filat had recently won the backing of 58 of the parliament's 101 members, and was expected to form a new, pared-down coalition government today. His government had been praised for its reforms by the European Commission, and was routinely referred to as the most reform-minded administration in the region by EU officials. Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel also sent out a strong diplomatic message of support in August by visiting Chisinau.