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Breaking news in Moldova: MPs are voting on a coalition between the socialists and the anti-corruption alliance ACUM, with Maia Sandu proposed as new prime minister. Vlad Plahotniuc's PD is opposing this move. Embassies of EU, Russia and US all in favour according to reports.
The aim of the proposed coalition would be to de-oligarchize (what a word!) - this is a direct reference to the all-powerful leader of the PD, Vladimir Plahotniuc, also one of the richest and most influential people in Moldova
The constitutional court has decided against this coalition due to rules around snap elections, but coalition representatives say this is an unfair call and will defy it. Today and tomorrow will be crucial for the future of Moldova. NGOs are organising a pro-coalition protest.
The main source of electricity in the country's parliament seems to have been cut during the voting process, there are sidelights on however... now MPs are in recess - live coverage and commentary in Romanian here: jurnaltv.md/page/live
Meanwhile, Plahontiuc's PD & supportive TV stations accuse the coalition of a coup. Counter-protests against the coalition organised by PD with, reportedly, help from oligarch Ilan Shor of 'missing billion' fame. The PD side of the story may be seen here: publika.md/live
Zinaida Greceanîi who minutes ago was elected as president of parliament, from the socialist side of the coalition, has assumed her role and is referring to Plahotniuc's PD as "the opposition". Most Moldovans even a week ago would have said such an idea would be impossible.
The importance, and surprise, of turn of events, this coalition, cannot be underestimated. Plahotniuc's power has taken on mythical dimensions in recent years. Moldovans see him as controlling all of the state's institutions and its power, including police, judiciary, gov.
To see his party swept from power like this, even for a day, shows that there is no such thing as absolute control in Moldova, someting many Moldovans just don't believe, although maybe they are beginning to change their mind now.
Vicepresidents of parliament elected from Maia Sandu's grouping ACUM: Mihai Popșoi and Alexandru Slusari; live blog in Romanian: agora.md/live/2575
Might be a good time to revisit the lazy 'torn between East and West' theory about Moldova. This trope drove countless foreign news stories, although as today's extraordinary political moves show, it was lazy. "There is no East versus West today in Moldova," said Greceanîi.
But it is still too early to tell if any of this will last, despite semeingly unambiguous support for the coalition from the EU, US and Russia. (Ex-?) Parliament speaker Andrian Candu, on Plahotniuc's PD side, just said all proceedings are illegal and will be attacked in court.
Remember that the elections for mayor of the capital Chisinau were voided in court after Andre Nastase won. Nastase is Maia Sandu's junior coalition partner in the ACUM group. rferl.org/a/moldovan-sup…
The coalition reserved a parliament vice-president seat for Plahotniuc's PD - "the opposition" - an effort to play fair by the new coalition
The PD is having none of this. They have confirmed again that they see the entire process as illegal and they will take it to the constitutional court, which, in theory, could reverse things. Things far from certain, but Plahotniuc is unlikely to accept change.
here is a link to the US embassy in Moldova expressing support for the anti-Plahotniuc coalition: facebook.com/U.S.EmbassyMol…; Russia and the EU also issued similar messages - an extremely rare moment of agreement between the three sides;
pro-coalition media speculating that the PD will try to raise protests against the new government tomorrow in the capital, Chișinău, fears of violence
same anti-Plahotniuc media breathlessly speculating that if the (yet to be elected) government survives the weekend, Plahotniuc will not risk facing the inevitable corruption inquiries and is likely to leave the country; he owns several properties abroad: rise.md/articol/video-…
the Moldovan parliament is now back in session - source from the ACUM group texted me now: they expect Maia Sandu to be prime minister in about "1-2 hours"
whoever's reading this badly written rushed thread, thanks. Proper story later on @POLITICOEurope
back in session, new Parliament president Greceanîi said she is not afraid of the PD's legal challenge: "we also have our own very good legal experts"
Andrei Nastase speaking now in parliament, very forceful against Plahotniuc, accusing him of fostering "endemic corruption" a culture of "blackmail," "poor administration," "torture" of opponents. Says Plahotniuc controls virtually all sides of law enforcement
Nastase files amendment formally recognizing in law that Moldova is "captured" by Plahotniuc. It's a seriously damning text and if passed will be huge blow for PD.
The amendment passed in parliament.
Now voting for the next Prime Minister. It's the crucial moment.
Folks, this is nothing short of a revolution in Moldova.
That elected MPs have so strongly, and suddenly, turned against the PD of Vlad Plahotniuc is almost miraculous. I have pinched myself several times this afternoon.
The Constitutional Court just voided the whole proceeding now on live TV. What this means will become clear in the next few days. The new Prime Minister was not elected yet, though expected to be Maia Sandu, if the government stands.
Maia Sandu speaking: "the dictator has fallen."
Sandu giving a forceful speech, damning Plahotniuc. also warns "we cannot be sure of the duration of this alliance."
She turned somber, outlining the details of her government's program - economic reforms, judicial reforms, rekindling relations with the EU, overhauling public admin, says "the most important task of this government will be to restore trust that there can be a good future here."
She is now naming her executive team. We are coming closer to the vote.
Maia Sandu won the vote. She is now Prime Minister in Moldova, in defiance of Vlad Pahotniuc and the Constitutional Court. What a trip!
The officials are now moving to swear in the new government right in the dimly-lit parliament building. The president of parliament had a tremor of fear in her voice when she warned MPs not to leave the building.
Maia was sworn in. Ministers taking turns being sworn in. Maia is smiling. Others are a bit wary. Dodon, the president, thanks them. "Today is a historic day for Moldova," he says. Plahotniuc announced a press conference this afternoon.
Dodon is calling for "the peaceful transfer of power". Not out of the woods yet and he knows it.
Plahotniuc speaks. Says the coalition is "an obvious putsch" - "Dodon lacks legitimacy".
Accuses Dodon of double-crossing him, proposing "treasonous" conditions and being "financed from abroad".
Plahotniuc does not accept today's change. Says that "the PD will take all the legal and democratic measures to stop the assumption of power by the new government."
Plahotniuc calls for snap elections both for the president and parliament.
Plahotniuc said he will make revelations in the coming days that will prove "illegitimacy" of the new government which "usurped" power.
The gist of the thing in a neat new @POLITICOEurope article right here: Moldova gets surprise new government
couple of late updates: Sandu and her government are not in the clear yet. They accuse the Constitutional Court of conflict of interest and bias for Plahotniuc but the fact remains they need a legal way around the veto issued Saturday and they don't have it yet.
second: it's far from certain there will be a peaceful transfer of power. Journalistis in Chișinău report groups of men being bussed in around government buildings, tents being put up. There could be an attempt underway to physically prevent the new government taking office
It's not clear what, if any, international institutions of solid reputation are on the ground to accurately observe the transition. The foreign countries that provided support for the coalition - EU, US, Russia, might send their own certified observers but they also might not.
sounds like a cliche but the next 48 hours are vital and it could still go either way
Morning! Day 2 of Moldova's anti-oligarch coalition: The Constitutional Court suspended President Igor Dodon and ex-prime minister Pavel Filip was named interim president. It also ordered to disband the parliament. Not clear what this means, parliament in session now.
Meanwhile the streets are fairly quiet but key government buildings still surrounded by groups of men that were bussed in overnight, and pro-coalition protesters are gathering also, reportedly.
Sandu and Năstase are defying the Court order and they are calling on the police to refuse to apply the decision to disband parliament. They are calling on Dodon to come back as President and on Filip to quit. Volatile.
Pavel Filip, the new president (apparently) as of today, called elections for 6 September. He signed a decree to disband parliament.
Confusingly, Filip is calling on Dodon to resign from the job of president. But wasn't Dodon just sacked by the Constitutional Court? Not clear.
The Parliament is fighting back: just passed a motion accusing Vlad Plahotniuc's PD of "usurping power".
This is from earlier this morning: when he heard of the suspension, Dodon said there would need to be "mobilisation" internationally and in Moldova in order to support the new coalition. The PD "does not want to hand over power peacefully," he said. Sandu to speak shortly.
Weirdly, the most staunchly pro-coalition television station, Jurnal TV, has gone off air about a half hour ago and is currently playing promo clips on a loop. Was transmitting live from the parliament.
Jurnal TV is back on. Live at Parliament. So no creepy stuff.
Might add for balance that Publika TV, Plahotniuc's station, is also live and is emphasizing the decision of the constitutional court, also the elections called for Sept 6.
Text from a high-ranking member of Sandu's team: "The champagne is postponed. The situation is growing tese. The oligarch won't go kindly."

Police now cordoning off a main square in the capital in preparation for a 'concert' and demo by Plahotniuc's PD.
Sandu speaks: "As Prime Minister I call on police, carabinieri, special forces, penitentiary authorities," to support the new government. "Plahotniuc does not want to ensure the peaceful transifion of power." Says to police: "do not endander the lives of our citizens." Grim tone.
Sandu speaks: "As Prime Minister I call on police, carabinieri, special forces, penitentiary authorities," to support the new government. "Plahotniuc does not want to ensure the peaceful transition of power." Says to police: "do not endanger the lives of our citizens." Grim tone.
Adds: "all that Pavel Filip and the others in their gang are doing is abusive and illegal." Ends talk.
Dodon speaks: "Today we discussed next steps" for the coalition. "We received encouraging messages from external partners," both from East and West. "We received messages of recognition that ths process was legal."
"Nobody thought that Plahotniuc would leave peacefully." Adds that he is calling on supporters of coalition should stay home today to avoid violence, but says people might be called to the street in support in the coming days. "The process [of transition] has started."
"Pressure is needed from our external partners both from East and West." Says he is talking to the Russians and Sandu with the EU and Americans. But (my addition) no official direct communication from there yet today. Dodon says there will be official messages in "hours".
Writing badly again due to rush, sorry. People, if you're still reading, will have better notes and story later. My credible source from Moldovan civil society confirms expectation EU and US will recognize gov and call for calm and peace soon. Russia here: duma.gov.ru/en/news/45250/
Dodon says that people protesting in favour of PD/ Plahotniuc are "pressured to be there" and they are paid. "They work for the state and are putting bread on the table. I understand them." Says election on 6 Sept is not needed.
Plahotniuc speaking in the square on his party's stage in the capital. Large crowd listning an live TV transmission. He is giving an angry speech, chanting with the crowd, "traitor, traitor," in deference to Dodon. Calls on state institutions to "defend the constitutional order."
Plahotniuc calls on police to "sanction in the harshest form this attempt to usurp the power of the state, this putsch. At the same time the PD calls on people to be peaceful." Now chanting "Judas" from the stage. "We are the people."
Plahotniuc's speech ends. Chants of "Plahotniuc." Fair to say these chants are being picked up with less than bracing enthusiasm by the crowd. Men in police officer uniform now joined the PD stage, chanting.
Romanian President Iohannis calls for "calm" and "restraint". Emphasises Moldova's EU path but does not mention new government or Sandu. Calls for "responsible dialogue" and "respect for democracy". Can be read as rather timid support for the coalition. presidency.ro/ro/media/comun…
Iohannis also said Moldova needs "stability" to carry out "an ample process of reforms including on rule of law and good government" - reference to Sandu's promises made yesterday.
Chișinău - Vladimir Plahotniuc's PD and its supporters (estimated at around 5,000 by pro-coalition media, 30,000 by pro-PD media) marching from the square to the President's office. Plahotniuc leading the march on foot. A rare treat for his fans, usually he is more private.
might add that Plahotniuc and his top PD leaders are surrounded by at least ten bodyguards as they march. it's a sunny day in the Moldovan capital.
Plahotniuc's protest reached the Moldovan parliament building and is gathered around the gates. Some protesters, for some reason, are throwing dead chickens over the fence. Some are throwing live chickens. Pity these chickens. The crowd is chanting for the resignation of Dodon.
The anti-coalition prostest led by Plahotniuc has ended. No violence and no serious effect yet. But Sandu's government still under pressure as the chief of police said that he does not recognize the authority of the coalition.
correction: the birds thrown on the steps of the parliament were not chickens but some rather young turkeys, according to journalists from Agora.md - I apologise for the error, am not an ornithologist. Pity these turkeys.
snangs for both sides: coalition can't bypass constitutional court without massive legal overhaul with foreign support & possibly official support from the people via something like a referendum. Plahontiuc cannot explain why it's a coup if legitimate MPs vote in a new government
SNAGS, Jesus
Sandu speaks: tomorrow her government will hold its first official meeting. Cites messages of support from EU's EPP, Council of Europe and Romanian government. Says the government will attempt to replace heads of various institutions. Big test for the authority of her coalition.
Link to Council of Europe message: refers to democratically elected MPs and reforms promised by Sandu. But stops short of naming her and backing the government outright: coe.int/en/web/portal/…
The Sandu coalition seems to have survived its second day but nobody knows what tomorrow might bring. The constitutional court is an important institution in Moldova and it cannot be ignored. This is likely the reason why foreign governments are showing diplomatic caution.
Boost for Sandu: EU's @FedericaMog comes out for the coalition. Mogherini says the EU "takes good note of the decisions taken yesterday by the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova" and "stands ready to work with the democratically legitimate government." eeas.europa.eu/headquarters/h…
Radio Chișinău reports that a group of 86 NGOs in Moldova, some of them international, are calling for the resignation of the Constitutional Court judges who took decisions against the new government. Romanian: radiochisinau.md/86-de-onguri-c…
The NGOs say decisions of the court go against the spirit of the law and are biased in favour of Plahotniuc's PD. The court "compromised its role" and "acted exclusively in the interest of a single political party," the NGOs say. They ask foreign countries to recognize the gov
Sandu spoke with jornos -- she said that the EU's recognition of her government is a reason for Vlad Plahotniuc's PD to give up power peacefully. My note: the EU couched its message in careful diplomatic language which didn't name Sandu. Not yet fully hitching their wagon to her.
Conclusion for today: the new Moldovan coalition is still very much reversible, just as it was yesterday. In fact not much has changed in the interim. It's still hanging by a thread. We will see if the various public sector departments recognize the Sandu government tomorrow.
Second conclusion after a beer and a Jameson in the pub: what is happening now in Moldova, in the minds of US and EU diplomats, might look a tiny bit like the Venezuela situation a few weeks ago. They backed the opposition full throttle but Maduro clung on. Now they are careful.
Big boost for the coalition from the Council of Europe (@coe) - calls into serious question the decisions of the constitutional court, calls Sandu's government "legitimate", urges inquiry by the Venice Commission. The strongest show of foreign support yet. coe.int/en/web/portal/…
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