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New Government or More Turmoil for Macedonia?

The Social Democrat leader seemed poised to take power. Then the right took to the streets.

28 February 2017

Supporters of Macedonia’s outgoing ruling party demonstrated in Skopje yesterday in a bid to stop the trouble-free transfer of power promised by the man who could be Macedonia’s next prime minister.

 

The conservative VMRO DPMNE party fiercely opposes the agreement between the rival Social Democrats and parties representing the Albanian minority that cleared the way for a Social Democrat-led coalition.

 

Social Democrat leader Zoran Zaev (pictured) said yesterday that three Albanian parties had signed the agreement, giving him enough support in parliament to approve a new government, RFE/RL reports.

 

"The signatures allow the crisis to end in Macedonia and the country finally to move forward," Zaev said, adding that he expected a "peaceful and quick transfer of power."

 

That appeared to be the spark that sent thousands of VMRO DPMNE supporters into the streets to denounce the coalition agreement. Protesters aimed most of their ire at the proposed law making Albanian a co-official language in the country.

 

The three Albanian parties insisted on greater language rights as a condition of joining a new government. In December’s election their combined total of 18 parliamentary seats made them the kingmakers in any potential coalition, whether conservative- or Social Democrat-led.

 

Currently, Albanian can be used officially only in areas where Albanians make up more than 20 percent of the population, Balkan Insight reports. Albanians comprise about a quarter of Macedonia’s 2.1 million inhabitants.

 

On Friday, parliamentary deputies for the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), the main Albanian party, said they would back the Social Democrat bid to form a new government, Balkan Insight wrote earlier.

 

Talks between the DUI and Zaev’s party would continue, a DUI spokesman said, adding that the deputies’ stance did not commit the party to participate in the next government.

 

 

  • The DUI has been a partner in of VMRO DPMNE-led government since 2008. It said outgoing conservative leader Nikola Gruevski had previously accepted its terms for renewing their partnership.

 

  • The closely-fought election was called early as way of resolving the long feud between Gruevski’s and Zaev’s parties. VMRO DPMNE won 51 seats compared to 49 for the Social Democrats.

 

  • Gruevski had the first crack at putting together a coalition last month when President Gjorge Ivanov gave him three weeks to form a government.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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