Legislative elite formation in Moldova: continuity and change
Since Moldova achieved independence in 1991 its parliament has played a key, if sporadic, role in determining the direction of the country’s political life. It has been the primary venue for the fractious elite conflict that has plagued reform efforts. It has not, however, emerged as a stable institutional foundation upon which a democratic political system could be built. During much of the 1990s parliamentary leaders were embroiled in an on-again-off-again conflict with the presidency for control over the policy process. The nearly continuous political turmoil that plagued all aspects of Moldovan political life severely affected the parliament as well, both inhibiting its capacity and disrupting its institutional development. This chapter first briefly reviews the course of Moldovan legislative politics since independence. It then examines the post-communist legislative elites, focusing on the issues of the impact of the Soviet legacy, representation, and the professionalization of MPs. It will be argued that the nature of the Moldovan transition both shaped the legislative elite recruitment process, and at the same time undermined the development of a stable cadre of experienced MPs. The electoral victory of the Party of Communists of the Republic of Moldova (PRCM) in 2001 appears to have broken this trend. Incumbency rates and leadership experience increased markedly during the eight years of communist legislative control, and in large part survived the 2009 return of the non-communist parties to power.