Moldova’s parliament approves pro-EU government

BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Moldova’s parliament on Friday approved the pro-Western president’s government after her party won an early election this summer on promises to improve ties with the European union and fight corruption.

Parliament approved the government nominated by President Maia Sandu with 61 votes in Moldova’s 101-seat legislature. The government will be led by new Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita, an economist.

The new government was confirmed after the Party of Action and Solidarity, a pro-Western and center-right party founded by Sandu, won a snap election in July.

The party, known as PAS, promised closer ties with the European Union instead of Russia and to clean up corruption in Moldova, a country of 3.5 million, Europe’s poorest, sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine.

“The current government has an extremely important mission,” 43-year-old Gavrilita, who served a brief period as finance minister in 2019, said Friday. “To show people that the Republic of Moldova can be governed by honest people, well-intentioned people.”

The election on July 11 saw PAS take almost 53% of all votes, compared to the Russia-friendly electoral bloc of Communists and Socialists, which took 27% — giving PAS a clear parliamentary majority.

After the July election, Sandu said she hoped it would “be the end of the thieves’ reign over Moldova.”

“People expect changes for the better,” Sandu said, saying that will require “firm actions and competent decisions that put the citizen’s interest in the forefront.”

In 2014, Moldova signed a deal with the European Union to forge closer ties, but rampant corruption and lack of reforms have blocked development in the country, which ranked 115th out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index.

Dionis Cenusa, an analyst at the Chisinau-based think tank Expert Group, told The Associated Press that Friday’s vote in parliament “proves again that President Sandu’s party has a legislative superiority” and that there is “no visible internal obstacle to produce radical reforms.”

“The planned anti-corruption reforms are based on strong public support, future full control of state institutions, and the openness of Western partners to help,” Cenusa said. “The resistance of the old system will face difficulties.”

In June, the European Commission announced that Moldova would receive a 600 million-euro ($707 million) economic recovery package from the EU, but that it would be conditional on judicial and anti-corruption reforms.

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