On July 28, 1994, the Moldovan Parliament approved a new constitution, declaring Moldova a republic, which went into effect August 27, 1994. Moldova's previous constitution was that of the old Moldavian SSR (1979), with amendments. The new document defines Moldova as an independent, democratic, "single" state and declares the country's permanent neutrality. The Moldovan language, written in the Latin script, is designated as the official language, but guarantees are made for the use of Russian and other languages. The new constitution includes a ban on the stationing of foreign troops on Moldova's territory.
Moldova is a democracy with a unicameral legislature, the Moldovan Parliament, previously called the Supreme Soviet. Following the earlier Soviet model, the Moldovan Parliament maintains a Presidium, which performs legislative functions when the larger body is not in session. Parliament has 104 members elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term. Any citizen eligible to vote (eighteen years of age and not prohibited by law) is eligible for election to the Parliament. The next parliamentary elections will be held in 1998.
Parliament ordinarily meets in two sessions per year. The first session starts in February and may not go beyond the end of July. The seocnd session starts in September and may not go beyond the end of December.
Parliamentary leadership consists of a chair and two deputy chairs elected by the delegates. The work of Parliament is carried out by fifteen permanent committees, which have purview in the following areas: agriculture and rural social development, crime prevention, culture and religion, ecology, the economy and the budget, foreign affairs, health and social assistance, human rights and relations among nationalities, law, legislative ethics, local administration and the local economy, public relations and the mass media, science and education, state security and military affairs, and women and family issues.
Moldova's head of state is the president of the republic, who shares executive power with the Council of Ministers. Under constitutional arrangements prevailing at the time of the 1990 national elections, the president was elected by members of the Supreme Soviet, but provisions introduced in 1991 called for the president's direct election by all members of the population over eighteen years of age. The president, who must be over thirtyfive years old, a resident of Moldova for at least ten years, and a speaker of the state language, is elected to a four-year term of office. The next election is set for December 1995. In early 1995, the president was Mircea Snegur, named president by the Supreme Soviet in September 1990 and confirmed by popular election in December 1991.
The president's duties include nominating the prime minister and members of the Council of Ministers, taking part in Parliament's proceedings and debates, dissolving Parliament under certain conditions, negotiating and concluding international treaties, serving as commander in chief of the armed forces, granting political asylum, and iniating national referendums.
Council of Ministers
The activities of the government are directed by the cabinet, or Council of Ministers, headed by the prime minister and the first deputy prime minister. In early 1995, the prime minister was Andrei Sangheli, appointed in July 1992 and reappointed in March 1994. Candidates for the Council of Ministers are nominated by the president (on the prime minister's recommendation) and must be confirmed by Parliament before taking office. In 1995 there were eighteen ministries: agriculture and food, commercial services and housing, culture, defense, economy, education, finance, foreign affairs, health, industry, information and communication, interior, justice, labor and social and family protection, national security, parliamentary relations, privatization and administration of state property, and transportation and road assistance.
In addition to these ministries, the government has state departments subordinate to the Council of Ministers. In 1995 there were nine state departments: architecture and construction; customs control; energy, energy resources, and fuel; environmental protection; national relations; standards, metrology, and technical assistance; statistics; trade; and youth and sports.
The Judicial System
Independent Moldova's judicial and legal systems are carryovers from the Soviet period and conform to practices that were standard throughout the former Soviet Union. The most powerful legal institution is the General Prosecution Office, formerly called the Procuracy. Headed by the prosecutor general, the General Prosecution Office directs investigations, orders arrests, and prosecutes criminal cases. It is also charged with administering the judicial system and ensuring the legality of government actions. In the early 1990s, the Procuracy's corruption and political ties to the Communist Party of Moldavia made it the subject of substantial controversy in discussions on constitutional reform. A significant element of political opinion advocated the abolition of or the radical transformation of the Procuracy.
Moldova's judicial system is based on a network of local courts and higher-level appeals courts, with the highest court being the Supreme Court (Curte Suprema). Judges do not have a tradition of political impartiality and independence, and the role of defense attorneys is limited. The government of Moldova has initiated reform efforts, but corruption and a lack of organization continue to plague the legal system. Many former Soviet-era judges and chief prosecutors were replaced in 1990 and 1991 during a parliamentary review, but an independent judiciary was still not realized. The system was being reviewed in 1995.
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