By Fatjona Mejdini
Macedonia’s tight election result has shifted attention to ethnic Albanian parties, which together won 20 MPs and are seen as possibly holding the key to the formation of a new government in Macedonia.
According to the latest results, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party won 51 of the 120 seats in parliament and the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, won 49.
Pressure is particularly high on the largest of the Albanian parties, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, led by of Ali Ahmeti, which won 10 seats and has ruled the country in a coalition with the VMRO-DPMNE since 2008.
Fearing a repeat coalition scenario, some Albanians in Macedonia have taken to social networks to call on the DUI and on other Albanian parties not to help VMRO DPMNE leader and former prime minister Nikola Gruevski form another government.
They say his Macedonian nationalist policies have damaged the interests of Albanians who make up a quarter of the country’s population.
One online petition launched on Wednesday listed 12 arguments against any collaboration between ethnic Albanian parties and VMRO DPMNE, including biased court cases against Albanians and Gruevski’s nationalist language.
“Albanian public opinion in Macedonia asks Albanian parties to isolate Nikola Gruevski … who closed his election campaign with clearly nationalist rhetoric,” the petition read.
Known public figures in the ethnic Albanian community have also taken to social networks to call on the community’s parties not to collaborate further with VMRO DPMNE.
“Albanian political parties should not even negotiate with a party that in its campaign showed its ‘Albano-phobia’ and said false things about Albanians without never apologizing for them,” Ramadan Ramadani, an assistant professor at Tetovo university wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.
Albanian media are meanwhile talking about a possible meeting between the Albanian Prime Minister, Edi Rama, and leaders of the four Albanian parties that won seats in Macedonia’s next parliament. BIRN asked Rama’s office about this but did not get a reply by time of publication.
Albania’s Top Channel, referring to souces from the Albanian parties in Macedonia, questioned whether the DUI leader would be willing to meet Rama in Tirana, however.
Tirana is being careful not to issue any statement that might be considered interference in the internal affairs of Macedonia, however, its preference for the SDSM over VMRO DPMNE is no secret.
The SDSM positions itself as a non-ethnic, values-based party and it campaigned actively for ethnic Albanian votes in this election.
On Monday, the Albanian Foreign Minister, Ditmir Bushati in a TV interview personally congratulated Muhamed Zekiri, who is going to be an MP for Zoran Zaev’s SDSM, saying he welcomed Macedonian Albanians “taking the opportunity … to go beyond ethnic divisions”.