In 1993 more than twenty political parties and movements were registered in Moldova. Until 1990 the Communist Party of Moldavia (CPM) was the dominant political force in the republic. It had controlled the administrative, economic, and cultural affairs of the Moldavian SSR from its establishment until 1990. During that period, CPM officials monopolized virtually all politically significant government positions. However, once democratic elections were decided upon, the party's power disintegrated swiftly. The CPM was formally banned in August 1991, following the abortive August coup d'état against Soviet president Gorbachev, but former communists continue to participate actively in politics through their membership in a variety of successor organizations.
In the wake of the 1990 elections, the Moldovan Popular Front, founded in 1989 and consisting of an association of independent cultural and political groups, moved into a commanding position in the country's political life. It emerged as an advocate of increased autonomy from the Soviet Union and of the rights of the Moldavian SSR's ethnic Romanian population. Popular Front delegates were able to dominate proceedings in the Supreme Soviet and to select a government made up of individuals who supported its agenda. The Popular Front was well organized nationally, with its strongest support in the capital and in areas of the country most heavily populated by ethnic Romanians. Once the organization was in power, however, internal disputes led to a sharp fall in popular support, and it fragmented into several competing factions by early 1993. In February 1993, the Popular Front was reformed as the Christian Democratic Popular Front (CDPF).
Several other parties, primarily composed of ethnic Romanians, were organized after 1990. The largest and most influential of these ethnically based parties is the Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova, which is a coalition of former communists and moderate to status-quo supporters of Moldovan statehood and closer economic ties with Russia. The party's support comes mainly from the rural populace, economic conservatives, and ethnic minorities opposed to reunification with Romania. The Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova won a majority of the votes in the 1994 parliamentary election.
A much smaller but still influential political group is the Social Democratic Party of Moldova. Most of the Social Democrats' leaders originally participated in the Popular Front but later formed their own organization in response to what they perceived as the increasingly nationalistic position of that party. The Social Democrats are multiethnic, and their constituency consists mainly of educated professional and managerial groups. Their support is strongest in the republic's capital.
Another independent formation committed to promoting a less nationalistic agenda for the republic, the Democratic Party for the Rebirth and Prosperity of Moldova (PDRPM), was formed in late 1990. The PDRPM draws its support primarily from among ethnic Romanian intellectuals and is active primarily in the capital.
At the other extreme of the political spectrum is the National Christian Party (NCP). The NCP is more expressly nationalistic than the Popular Front and its other competitors-- Congress of the Intelligentsia (which is a component of the Congress of Peasants and Intellectuals, a bloc in the 1994 elections), the Democratic Party, and the Democratic Labor Party- -and it campaigned openly for reunification with Romania during the 1994 election. Other parties active in the 1994 campaign for the Parliament were the Reform Party, the Yedinstvo/Socialist Bloc, the Republican Party, the Democratic Labor Party, the Green Alliance, the Women's Association of Moldova, and the Victims of Totalitarian Repression.
In late 1993, former Prime Minister Valeriu Muravschi, along with several other leading members of Parliament unhappy with the direction of policy under the existing government, formed yet another party, the Socialist Workers' Party, in order to counter what they saw as the excessively conservative influence of the Democratic Agrarian Party of Moldova. Non-Romanian ethnic communities have also formed political organizations representing their interests. In the early transition period, the most influential of these was the Yedinstvo-Unitatea Intermovement. Yedinstvo, whose members include not only Russians but also Ukrainians, Bulgarians, and other Russian-speaking residents of the republic, is politically conservative in its support of the pre-1990 status quo. Based primarily in Transnistria, it is strongly pro-Russian. In Parliament, its positions are represented by the Conciliere legislative club.
Yedinstvo emerged in 1988 from the mobilization of Russianspeaking workers responding to efforts to alter the republic's language laws and demote the status of the Russian language. During the transition period, Yedinstvo was the most effective and influential minority nationalist organization. Its representatives walked out of the first session of the democratically elected Moldavian Supreme Soviet in 1990. In local elections, its adherents won control over local and raion governments throughout Transnistria.
Gagauz Halkî (Gagauz People) is a second pivotal minority political group, formed to represent Moldova's population of approximately 153,000 Gagauz. Like the Russian-speaking community in Transnistria, with whom they had been close political allies, Gagauz nationalists gained control over local government in the five southern raioane, where their numbers continue to be concentrated. Like the Transnistrians, the Gagauz declared themselves sovereign in 1990.
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