In North Macedonia, prime minister resigns after municipal defeat

The Prime Minister of North Macedonia Zoran Zaev announced his resignation on Sunday October 31 after the poor results of his party, the SDSM (left), in the municipal elections in this small landlocked country in the Balkans. “I take responsibility for these election results. I am resigning from my post as Prime Minister ”Zoran Zaev told reporters.

In this election, the second round of which was held this Sunday, the SDSM lost the capital Skopje and most of the country’s major cities and urban centers after having, in 2017, won more than half of the 80 municipalities of Macedonia in the North. “I brought freedom and democracy, and democracy implies taking responsibility”, explained Mr. Zaev who also resigned from his post as president of the SDSM.

Parliament has yet to confirm his resignation. Elected prime minister in 2017, he put an end to ten reigns of Nikola Gruevski and his right-wing party the VMRO-DPMNE, shaken by an illegal wiretapping scandal that seemed to bear witness to rampant corruption.

Proclaiming the victory of VMRO-DPMNE, its current leader Hristijan Mickoski estimated that “The government has lost its legitimacy”. Mr. Mickoski expressed the hope that this “New reality would emerge in Parliament”. “However, the best solution would be for this to happen during early legislative elections”, said Mickoski.

European membership pending

Zoran Zaev is opposed to an early poll and intends to secure a majority in Parliament for a new government of the SDSM and its allies. In 2018, Zaev reached an agreement with Athens that resolved a dispute with Greece over the name of Macedonia, and providing for the addition of the qualification «Du Nord» in the name of the country in order to avoid confusion with the Greek province of the same name.

The conclusion of this agreement should in principle open the door to the country’s accession negotiations with the European Union. But North Macedonia subsequently encountered reluctance from France and Bulgaria, and has still not started these negotiations. Sofia, which threatens to block North Macedonia’s EU membership negotiations, and Skopje have a dispute over the origins of the Macedonian language. Sofia considers it to be a Bulgarian dialect.

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Despite its victory in the 2010 legislative elections, the government of Zaev, which has a narrow majority, has not been spared by business, which probably explains in part the result of the municipal elections. The government was committed to curbing the coronavirus pandemic and its effects on the national economy while progressing towards EU membership but without recording notable results in these two files.

The World with AFP

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In North Macedonia, prime minister resigns after municipal defeat