Macedonia: Election Re-Run Fails To Resolve Power Battle


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Despite the victory of the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, in the election re-run on Sunday in the village of Tearce in Macedonia, the number of seats that each bloc won in the December 11 elections remains the same. The ruling VMRO DPMNE party won 51 and the SDSM 49 in the 120-seat parliament.

The opposition won 245 votes in Tearce and the ruling party won just 150.

This was not enough to break the threshold, a difference of 304 votes, in the sixth electoral unit, where Tearce is located, that would have given both parties 50 seats.

Both parties have since reiterated they were the true victors in the elections and would therefore form the next government.

“This was a symbolic vote. The people of Tearce, like the rest of the Macedonian voters, opted for change and a better future, regardless of the pressures that were present,” SDSM MP Petre Shilegov said. He added that the SDSM would go on to form the next government.

The ruling VMRO DPMNE party, which initially said it would boycott the re-run as an attempt to steal its victory, said the attempt had failed.

“As the [overall] winners in the elections we remain committed to the next steps in formation of a new government,” the ruling party said in a press release.

To form a stable majority in parliament of at least 61 MPs, both main parties now need the support of one or preferably two of the ethnic Albanian parties that entered parliament.

At a meeting this weekend, the junior ruling party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI which won 10 seats, and the opposition Alliance for Albanians, led by the DPA – Movement for Reforms, which won three, agreed to the demands they would put to their bigger Macedonian counterparts.

These were official status for the Albanian language over the entire territory of Macedonia, the prolongation of the work of the Special Prosecution, which investigates high-level crime, action on EU-mandated reform priorities, a fair distribution of the state budget along ethnic lines and consensual decision-making on all important issues.

The DUI, which spent eight years in government with VMRO DPMNE, also hinted that it would not exclude talks on a government with the opposition SDSM.

The opposition Besa party, which won seven seats, and the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, which won two, declined the DUI’s invitation for joint talks.

However, they hinted at similar demands, including a condition not to include any people in government who are being investigated by the Special Prosecution. This would eliminate the VMRO DPMNE leader, Nikola Gruevski.

Now the voting is finally over, parliament has until December 31 to hold its inaugural session.

President Gjorge Ivanov has until January 9 to hand over the mandate for formation of a new government to one of the two main party leaders, Nikola Gruevski or Zoran Zaev.

After one of them proves he has a majority in parliament, parliament has until February 16 to vote for the new government.
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The Balkan Insight (formerly the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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