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Macedonia - Politics 2020

Snap elections in North Macedonia, originally scheduled for 12 April, will be postponed, leaders of the political parties agreed 17 March 2020. A decree with legal force to “suspend all electoral activities and all issues related to the electoral process” was adopted at a meeting on 21 March. Up to date, 136 cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in North Macedonia. The Government made the decision to postpone the election because of a state of emergency declared to effectively prevent the introduction and spread of the coronavirus.

Snap parliamentary elections were agreed by leaders of parliamentary parties 20 October 2019 at a meeting with the President of the country, dissatisfied because North Macedonia has not received a date for the third time to begin accession negotiations with the European Union. Leaders of political parties in North Macedonia, including those in the ruling coalition, agreedto hold a snap parliamentary election on April 12, 2020 after the European Union failed to give the country a date to start talks on joining the bloc. French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday led a group of leaders who blocked opening talks with Albania and North Macedonia, despite concerns over increasing Chinese and Russian influence in the Balkans.

North Macedonia’s President Stevo Pendarovski called a meeting with party leaders to discuss further steps after Prime Minister Zoran Zaev called for a snap vote. At the meeting, the party leaders agreed to hold elections eight months ahead of the end of the current term. “I believe that on April 12 the citizens will make a wise choice that will trace the road on which we the politicians should lead the country,” Zaev said.

According to the law, Zaev will now have to step down from the post of the prime minister in January 2020, making way for a caretaker government that would include experts and some representatives of the opposition party, as well to prepare for the election. After Skopje agreed to end a dispute with Greece over the country’s name - changing it to North Macedonia from Macedonia - the former Yugoslav republic had expected to be granted a date to start entry talks with the EU.

“We have a clear state consensus of all political leaders, that despite the decision of the European Council, ... the Republic of North Macedonia should start negotiations (with the EU) as soon as possible,” Pendarovski commented.

As well as North Macedonia and Albania, four other countries - Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia - also aspire to join the EU, but the expansion process has largely stalled amid increased public concerns in western Europe about migration and the strains of dealing with Britain’s exit from the bloc. The Balkanian nation was expected to become the 30th member of NATO in 2020, once its accession had been ratified by all member states of the U.S.-led alliance.

North Macedonia's prime minister, Zoran Zaev, handed in his resignation on 03 January 2019, with a caretaker Cabinet set to assume control in order to organize the country's elections, due to take place on April 12. Lawmakers accepted Zaev's decision without debate. Oliver Spasovski, North Macedonia's interior minister, was nominated as caretaker prime minister in the wake of Zaev's resignation.

Voting was under way 15 July 2020 in North Macedonia in parliamentary elections that may determine the pace of the Balkan state’s Euro-Atlantic trajectory. The vote was the country's first poll under its new name, with opinion polls showing the pro-EU Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and right-wing VMRO-DPMNE in a tight race. The vote was originally scheduled for April but postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the outbreak resurging, the decision was made to hold the vote on July 15 and keep polling stations open for two additional hours, until 9 p.m. local time, to reduce crowding and risks.

The vote carries broader geopolitical implications, as the EU and the United States seek to bring North Macedonia closer to slow moves by Russia and China to increase their influence in the Western Balkans. U.S. and European observers see Russia actively involved in propaganda and disinformation to sow divisions in North Macedonia in a bid to undermine NATO and EU expansion.

Polls suggested the two main parties will each secure less than 25 percent of the vote, meaning neither will win the 61 seats needed in the 120-member parliament to be able to govern alone. Fifteen political parties are vying for seats. The largest ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), is the most likely coalition partner. The DUI has been in coalition governments for the past 18 years. It has suggested an ethnic Albanian, who make up about a quarter of the population, should be prime minister. SDSM and the DUI formed a coalition after the last elections in 2016, which ousted the increasingly authoritarian and corrupt VMRO after nearly a decade in power.

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Page last modified: 30-06-2021 12:05:56 ZULU