Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
Update No: 289 - (27/01/05)
Parliament Election 2005
Moldova has the unusual distinction of having the last genuinely communist
government in Europe.
Curiously, they are doing rather well, being idealists and not generally
corrupt, even though they are governing the poorest country of the European
continent, another rebarbative distinction. They have a good chance of winning
forthcoming elections to parliament, which duly elects the president. The
president is elected to a four-year term by Parliament. The Parlamentul
(Parliament) has 101 members, elected to four-year terms by proportional
representation. The prime minister is Vasile Tarlev, but the president, Vladimir
Voronin, head of the communist party, calls the shots - so far.
In the February 25 2001 parliamentary ballot, Moldova became the first former
Soviet Republic to democratically elect a communist administration. The
Communist Party of Moldova (PCRM) won 49.9 per cent of the vote and 71 seats.
The Parliament later picked Voronin as president.
On Dec. 24, 2004, the Parliament voted to hold a new legislative election on
Mar. 6, 2005. The Central Election Commission (CEC) set Feb. 5 as the deadline
for candidate registration, requesting all parties and blocs to provide résumés
and an income statement for each contender. Independent candidates must also
supply at least 2,000 signatures supporting their application.
The governing Communist Party of Moldova (PCRM) was the first political
organization to present a list of candidates, headed by Voronin. Several
opposition parties have complained about the way campaign procedures were set.
On Jan. 5, Democratic Moldova Bloc (BMD) leader Serafim Urechean said that
Voronin has not established the "necessary conditions for the civilized and
fair unfolding of the electoral campaign."
The BMD was formed in December 2004, and includes the founding parties of the
Our Moldova (MNA) alliance-the Social-Democratic Alliance of Moldova (ASDM), the
Liberal Party (PL), the Independents' Alliance of Moldova (AIM) and the
Democratic Peoples' Party (PPDM)-as well as other democratic, liberal and
The Christian-Democratic People's Party (PPCD) has adopted the colour orange for
the campaign, in reference to the recent successful campaigns of Ukraine's
Viktor Yushchenko and Romania's Traian Basescu.
The historic background
Following the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, the territory of Bessarabia-or Eastern
Moldova-declared its independence. In 1924, the area became the Moldovan
Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.
In 1940, the territory of Transdniester-which had been an autonomous area within
Ukraine-was merged with Bessarabia to form the Moldavian Soviet Socialist
Republic. The territory became independent in 1991 after the collapse of the
Soviet Union, and joined the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Moldova remains split along ethnic lines. Transdniester's population has a high
concentration of Russian and Ukrainian speakers, while two-thirds of all Eastern
Moldovans are of Romanian descent. Transdniester attempted to become sovereign
in the early 1990s. At least 1,500 people died after a civil war broke out. In
1992, Russian peacekeepers were deployed to secure the area. Transdniester's
independence has not been acknowledged by any state.
In 1994, the Moldovan Parliament allowed the Gagauz region-which houses a
Christian Turkic minority-to achieve a form of autonomy with special powers. Two
years later, Petru Lucinschi-who had commanded the area's Communist Party in
Soviet times-became president.
How can a country develop in an adequate, viable manner without a unified
Moldova depends largely on Russia for energy supplies. Around 25 per cent of all
Moldovan adults work outside the country.
Moldovan Premier Tarlev says that much of Moldova's economic doldrums can be
blamed on its inability to control its border -- hence, customs -- with
separatist Transdniester. Transdniester is seen as a major international
contraband and trafficking hub.
Tarlev says Moldova's economic growth would increase tenfold if customs in
Transdniester could be brought under Moldovan control. "Speaking of the
difficulties we have to confront, they are also a major consequence of the lack
of a single customs space," he says. "How can a country develop in an
adequate, viable manner without a unified customs service? This is a painful
problem. If it hadn't been for this problem with Transdniester, we would have
had at least 10 times better economic results. This is painful for me personally
and for Moldova's people as a whole."
The unlikely saviours - the communists
Tarlev says the Communist government, which took power in 2001 by promising to
restore living standards to Soviet-era levels, has managed to turn the economy
around after three years in power. He says taxation was reduced from 28 percent
in 2001 to 20 percent this year, and is set to decrease to 18 percent next year.
He says the underground economy was already reduced from up to 65 percent in
2001 to some 30 percent this year.
Furthermore, Tarlev says a strategy to fight poverty has been finalized.
"First of all, it is a strategy which determines clearly the priorities for
Moldova," he says. "It was a wide-ranging process, which involved the
local administration, civil society, NGOs and international organizations. In
other words, the whole society took part in the making of this strategy. We have
recently finalized it, and it has been approved by the government."
In Moldova's villages, however, antipoverty strategies are a distant notion, and
people confront the stark reality of not being able to feed their children.
Not everybody is displeased with the job the government is doing. Many old
pensioners in rural areas praise one achievement of the Communists over the past
four years -- paying pensions and salaries on time.
Seventy-seven-year-old Gheorghe Dohocheru lives in Pelivan. "They [the
ruling Party of Moldovan Communists] have done a lot of good," he says.
"We get the pension every month, on the same day. I get my pension on the
eighth of every month. They increased our pension, too, in the last four years
[since the Communists came to power]. I used to get 160 leis [US$13] per month.
But now I get 400 leis [US$34]."
Moldova sets up state energy company
The Moldovan government has decided to set up a new energy company with 100 per
cent state capital, Energocom, which will be in charge of energy import and
export. The authorized capital of the company was set at 100,000 lei (about
US$8,000), Basapress News Agency reported.
Prime Minister, Vasile Tarlev, said that "to strengthen Moldova's energy
security, the government should support the Energy Ministry's initiative to set
up a state-run company which will deal with the import and export of energy
because so far Moldova has had no such company."
Tarlev said the new company will sell energy at regulated rates and will start
its activities only after the National Agency for Energy Regulations issues it
with a licence.
Moldova signs major investment deal with Azeri oil companies
The Moldovan government signed an investment agreement with the group of
companies Azpetrol, Azertrans and Azpetrol Refinery on 29th December. The
government said this will be the largest project ever implemented in Moldova,
Infotag News Agency reported.
The project provides for the completion of the construction of the oil terminal
in Giurgiulesti, southern Moldova, the construction and use of a harbour for
goods and passengers and the construction of an oil refinery.
The Moldovan government managed to reach an agreement with the Azeri companies
only after two months of negotiations. In the last two years, several others
attempts to re-launch the construction of the Giurgiulesti oil terminal, stopped
four years ago, have failed.
The government said the parties reached a mutually advantageous agreement
"on all key issues."
The Moldovan authorities are to adopt a package of legislative documents which
will allow the Azeri companies to start the implementation of the project
"as soon as possible."
The government also hopes that after signing the agreement it will manage to
solve the problem of a credit offered by the European Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (EBRD) in the mid-1990s. The investor is to take over
commitments amounting to 10.2m euros.
The oil terminal in Giurgiulesti is one of the largest and the most
controversial project ever implemented in Moldova with the help of the EBRD. The
total cost of the project is US$38m. Under the initial project, the terminal had
to become operational in 1999, but the construction has been stopped several
times and now it is only at the level of 50-60 per cent. Previously, it was said
that the cost of the harbour with a capacity of 500,000 tonnes of products and
10,000 passengers per year is estimated at US$14.6m. Experts say the investment
will be recouped in 10 years.