The Republic of Moldova gained its independence and became a sovereign state on 27 August 1991. Under the Constitution adopted in July 1994, Moldova is a democratic republic based on the rule of law. The Constitution separates the state powers into three branches – the legislative, the executive and the judicial branches. The legislative power belongs to the Parliament, elected for a four-year term. The Parliament consists of 101 deputies – representatives of parties and electoral blocks, as well as independent candidates.
Executive power is exercised by the Government. Its role is to carry out the domestic and foreign policy of the state, as well as to control the activity of public administration. The Government consists of a prime minister, deputy prime ministers, ministers, and other members.
The President, as the Head of the State, represents the state and is the guarantor of national sovereignty, independence, of the unity and territorial integrity of the nation. The President is elected by the Parliament to a four-year term.
The judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court of Justice, Courts of Appeal, and ordinary courts. The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court and has the power to review decisions made by lower courts. The Constitutional Court of Moldova is the sole authority with constitutional jurisdiction.
The Constitution recognizes the principle of local autonomy and states that all local issues shall be resolved and managed by local authorities, which shall operate independently pursuant to law. Each level of public administration has its own and delegated functions. The basic functions of local government include the organization of: public and social services, care for the elderly, housing and utilities, water supply and sewerage, physical planning, public transport, and the maintenance of local roads and streets.
Moldova is divided into 37 first-tier units, including 32 districts (raioane), 3 municipalities (Chişinău, Bălţi, Bender), 1 autonomous territorial unit (Gagauzia), and 1 territorial unit (Transnistria). The capital and largest city is Chisinau. Moldova has 65 cities (towns), including 5 with municipality status, and 917 communes. Another 699 villages are too small to have a separate administration; so they are administratively part of either cities (40) or communes (659). This makes for a total of 1,681 localities of Moldova.