According to the constitution, freedom of religion prevails, but a special law of religion involves certain restrictions. Among other things, “abusive missionary” is prohibited. The Orthodox Church has a strong position in society.
More than nine out of ten Moldavians are Orthodox Christians. The country also has the unified Greek-Catholic Church dominated by Ukrainians. Other Christian communities are the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Roman Catholic Church, Seventh-day Adventists, Baptists and Pentecostal friends. Moldova also has a Jewish minority and a small group of Muslims.
During the Soviet era (1944–1991), religion was suppressed and many churches were destroyed. Since independence in 1991, religious freedom has increased, but Muslims, Pentecostals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Jews, among others, have had difficulty getting their communities registered with the authorities. When the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Religious Freedom visited Moldova in 2011, he criticized the special position of the Orthodox Church, especially in schooling.
- Countryaah: Population statistics for 2020 and next 30 years in Moldova, covering demographics, population graphs, and official data for growth rates, population density, and death rates.
The election campaign started
The Socialist Party starts its campaign ahead of the election on February 24 with a grand meeting in the capital. Thousands of followers march through the streets with red flags under the slogan “Our time is coming”. President Dodon, who was the party’s leader before being elected president in the fall of 2016, gives speeches and proclaiming that “this is the last battle to give people hope.”
EU grants are slimmed down further
The EU decides to continue withholding the € 100 million economic aid package, which was frozen in July as a result of the cancellation of the Mayor’s election in Chisinău (see June 3). The EU also decides to cut other grants to Moldova by EUR 40 million, citing democratic development in the country. The decision of the European Commission is announced the day after the European Parliament approves a resolution that is very critical of Moldova. According to the resolution, Moldova has developed into a state “hijacked by oligarchswhich exerts influence over most parts of society ”. The country’s leaders are accused of undermining core values by collaborating with business interests, and the resolution points to a diminishing scope for civil society by bringing its representatives to justice on fabricated grounds. The European Commission clarifies that the funds withdrawn can be released if the Moldovan authorities deal with issues such as the “very questionable” decision on the mayor’s election or the scandal in 2015 when values equivalent to one billion US dollars disappeared from the country’s banks.
The president’s veto is voted down
Parliament votes down a veto that President Dodon filed against a bill to sell a land area in the capital to the US state; The US plans to build a new embassy on the ground that previously housed a sports arena. Dodon argues that it is unfair that, through the acquisition, the United States has access to a much larger area in Chisinău than the Russian embassy. By Parliament voting down the veto, according to the Constitution, Dodon has to sign the Sales Act. If he refuses, the Constitutional Court may temporarily take away his powers, which has happened on several occasions during the past year when Dodon opposed the government’s decision (by September at the latest).
The President again lost power
The Constitutional Court once again deprives President Dodon of his powers (see January 2018). The court has been acting since Dodon opposed Prime Minister Pavel Philip’s appointment of two deputy ministers. Moldovan law allows the president to oppose a nomination at most once. Through the Constitutional Court decision, it will be possible for Philip himself or the President of Parliament to assume the powers of the Head of State and approve the appointments. Once that is done, Dodon regains his powers.
Continued protests against the government
A demonstration against the government brings together thousands of people in Chisinău. The protesters criticize both the annulment of the mayor’s election in the capital on June 3, and the new electoral law (see July 2017) which the opposition claims will benefit the ruling Moldova Democratic Party. The campaign is the latest in a series of anti-government manifestations that have taken place since the election results were lifted in July. The demonstration is organized by the opposition parties Action and Solidarity, Platform for Dignity and Truth and Moldova’s Liberal Democratic Party. The protests continue the day after, August 27, when Moldova celebrates its independence.
The parliamentary elections are postponed
Parliament votes to postpone the planned parliamentary elections for three months. The election would have been held in November 2018. A new date is set for February 24, 2019. The election will be made in accordance with the new system that was decided in the summer of 2017 and which benefits the larger parties.
Controversial tax reform is assumed
Parliament adopts a fast-paced tax reform proposal that will reduce taxes for both households and businesses. A 12 percent tax rate is introduced for individuals, and people who earn less than the equivalent of $ 95 per month do not have to pay taxes at all. This rule means that many moldavans will be tax exempt. In 2016, the average salary was US $ 106, according to the country’s statistical office. The reform will reduce companies’ employer contributions from 23 to 18 percent. At the same time, a kind of tax amnesty for assets is introduced. If the owner pays 3 percent tax, no one will ask how the assets have been obtained. The reforms are criticized by the EU, the US, the World Bank and the IMFrequesting that they be withdrawn. The new system is expected to deprive the state of large revenues, and according to the head of the EU’s office in Chisinău, the tax amnesty is incompatible with the reforms intended to strengthen legal security in the country: the fight against corruption, money laundering and organized crime. The government defends the new law by helping the residents of poverty and reducing the informal sector of the economy.
The EU penalizes the cancellation of election results
The EU decides to withhold a € 100 million financial aid package to Moldova. The EU says that Moldova has not met the EU’s demands to pay the money. The requirement is that Moldova should respect democratic mechanisms and principles of legal security. The EU refers to the country’s courts canceling the mayoral election in Chisinău won by an opposition politician (see note 3 June).
Election gains for opposition politicians are abolished
The second round of the Chisinău mayoral election ends with a win for Andrej Năstase, candidate for the EU-friendly opposition party named Yes – Platform for Dignity and Truth. Năstase wins over 52 percent of the vote, while counter candidate Ion Ceban gets just over 47 percent. Ceban is running for the country’s largest party, the Socialist Party. Two weeks after the election, June 19, a court declared Nastase’s election win illegal, citing irregularities in the election. Năstase’s supporters are staging a series of protests against the decision, which is confirmed by the Supreme Court on June 25, leading to new demonstrations. Năstase accuses the courts of acting on behalf of businessman Vladimir Plahotniuc, chairman of the ruling Moldovan Democratic Party.
Moldova becomes an observer in the Moscow-elected union
At a meeting in the Russian city of Sochi, Moldova is assumed to be an observer in the Eurasian Economic Union consisting of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia.
Arguments about expulsions of Russians
President Dodon condemns the government’s decision to expel three Russian diplomats. The trio is expelled by the government in a gesture of solidarity with Britain accusing Russia of being behind a nervous gas attack against a former Russian double agent in the UK (see UK / Calendar). The expulsions are labeled as an “anti-Russian provocation” by Dodon who wants to strengthen ties with Russia. Dodo’s wish is in conflict with the government’s EU-friendly policy.
March for reunification with Romania
More than 10,000 people are demonstrating in Chisinău demanding that Moldova be reunited with Romania. Moldova was part of Romania from 1918 to 1940 (see Older history and Modern history, respectively). A former Romanian president participates in the manifestation and calls on the parliaments of the countries to vote for a reunification. Two days later, the Romanian parliament adopts a resolution in support of the reunification minds, while the President of Moldova announces that the country appreciates its independence. According to a few-month-old opinion poll, made by an independent domestic think tank, just under a fifth of residents support the idea of connecting Moldova to Romania.
The seven ministers are taking office
The seven EU-friendly ministers that President Dodon tried to stop from taking office are sworn in by Parliament Speaker Aandrian Candu.
The president’s veto is stopped again
For the second time in a few days, the Constitutional Court is depriving President Dodon of his powers after trying to veto a parliamentary decision twice in a row. The President is only entitled to stop a decision in Parliament at one point. This time, the decision concerns a new media law that will prevent Russian TV channels from spreading Russian propaganda. The Media Act will instead be signed by Parliament Speaker Andrian Candu. Dodon has good relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, while the Moldovan EU-friendly government has a strained relationship with Russia.
The President is temporarily deprived of his powers
The Constitutional Court temporarily waives President Dodon’s powers because he has repeatedly refused Prime Minister Philip’s election of five new EU-friendly ministers and two EU-friendly deputy ministers. According to the constitution, the president has the right to reject a choice of minister at most once. The new ministers will formally take office in January 2018 according to the Constitutional Court.