By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonia’s main opposition party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) formally nominated its leader, Zoran Zaev, as a prime ministerial candidate Saturday, after securing support for a parliamentary majority.
At a meeting which took place on Saturday afternoon, the party’s central presidency formally nominated Zaev to run for prime minister. Zaev will go on to claim the mandate to form a new government from the head of state, President Gjorge Ivanov.
“It is both my and SDSM’s honour to be given the opportunity to form the new democratic government of Macedonia after 11 years of a regime” said Zaev, referring to the past decade of rule by the conservative Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO DPMNE), which has faced criticism for authoritarian tendencies and widespread corruption.
Zaev himself said Friday that he expects to be able to form his team within the next two weeks.
On Friday night, Macedonia’s main ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) said it would back SDSM in its attempts to form a new government.
“The governmental talks [between DUI and SDSM] will continue” said DUI spokesperson, Bujar Osmani, on Friday, adding that “the signatures [by DUI MPs for Zaev] do not mean that we are definitely going to make a government. We are offering our signatures to preserve the deadlines and not to waste too much time.”
Macedonia has not yet formed a new government since elections on December 11 which ended in a near-tie between VMRO DPMNE and SDSM.
The delay has been largely down to DUI indecisiveness about who to back following the election.
The party, which was a coalition partner with VMRO DPMNE from 2008, insisted it needed more time to decide which of the main parties to support this time.
The SDSM won 49 of 120 possible seats but it needed the support of at least 61 MPs to command a majority.
Two smaller ethnic Albanian parties, the Alliance for Albanians and the Besa (‘Oath’) party, which together control eight MPs, have already pledged their support. However, the support of the DUI’s ten MPs was crucial for the SDSM to muster the necessary majority.
The efforts to form a new opposition-led government comes after more than ten years of VMRO DPMNE rule.
VMRO DPMNE now warns of ‘tensions’ in Macedonia should their bitter rivals form a government. It accuses SDSM of disregarding national interests and has attempted to woo the DUI by accepting DUI demands for a new law that would extend the use of the Albanian language throughout Macedonia.
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