A large portion of present day Moldovan territory became a province of the Russian Empire in 1812 and then unified with Romania in 1918 in the aftermath of World War I. This territory was then incorporated into the Soviet Union at the close of World War II. Although Moldova has been independent from the Soviet Union since 1991, Russian forces have remained on Moldovan territory east of the Nistru River supporting the breakaway region of Transnistria, whose population is roughly equally composed of ethnic Ukrainians, Russians, and Moldovans.
Years of Communist Party rule in Moldova post-independence ultimately ended with election-related violent protests and a rerun of parliamentary elections in 2009. Since then, a series of pro-European ruling coalitions have governed Moldova. As a result of the country's most recent legislative election in November 2014, the three pro-European partiesparties that entered Parliament won a total of 55 of the body's 101 seats. Infighting among coalition members led to prolonged legislative gridlock and political instability, as well as the collapse of four governments, all ruled by pro-European coalitions centered around the Liberal Democratic Party (PLDM) and the Democratic Party (PDM). A political impasse ended in January 2016 when a new parliamentary majority led by PDM, joined by defectors from the Communists and PLDM, supported PDM member Pavel FILIP as prime minister.
Moldova remains Europe's poorest economy, but has made steps toward expanding its market access by signing and ratifying an Association Agreement with the EU in 2014, which fully entered into force in July 2016 after ratification by all EU member states. Igor DODON won Moldova's first direct presidential election in over 20 years in November 2016.