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Opposition Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, has officially joined the Social Democrat-led opposition bloc against Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
Menduh Thaci [left] and Branko Crvenkovski [right]
DPA leader Menduh Thaci and Social Democrat leader Branko Crvenkovski, who have never cooperated before, symbolically met half way on the road from the capital, Skopje, to Tetovo, the largest mainly Albanian town in Macedonia.
“We have united over three points - the catastrophic economic situation, the blocked European and Euro-Atlantic integration process and our crippled democracy,” Crvenkovski announced, after the meeting.
The two parties still have opposing views on some other matters, however. While the DPA calls for the revision of the 2001 Ohrid Agreement that improved the rights of ethnic Albanians in the country, Social Democrats oppose the idea.
“This cooperation may be scary for the government but Albanians will approve it, because it has been agreed in a transparent way,” Thaci said.
The DPA-SDP deal is part of a wider push to unite the opposition, aimed at unseating the VMRO-DPMNE-led government of Nikola Gruevski.
Now that the DPA has joined the SDP-led bloc, practically all relevant opposition parties stand under one banner.
In June, two former Prime Ministers and one-time political rivals, Ljubco Georgievski and Branko Crvenkovski, started the process of unification.
The two politicians, from opposing ends of the political spectrum, whose bitter political rivalry dominated the 1990s, put their differences aside to focus on unseating Gruevski.
The first test for the opposition parties will come in March 2013, when they will have to face Gruevski in the local elections.
Gruevski has not lost a single election since taking power in 2006.
VMRO DPMNE recently attacked the opposition bloc as an “unprincipled” union that had come together “only for grabbing power and nothing else”.
“Let them come. I would be happy to defeat them all, gathered together,” Gruevski said recently.
The opposition front could also pose a threat to Gruevski’s junior coalition partner, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.
This party has dominated Albanian politics in Macedonia since its formation in 2002.
However, the DUI leader, Ali Ahmeti, last week said that the party will probably run alone at the next local elections and will not team up with their government partners VMRO DPMNE.
The Social Democrats say they may call for early general elections if they emerge victorious in the forthcoming 2013 local elections.
Ljubco Georgievski and Branko Crvenkovski, whose bitter political rivalry dominated the 1990s, agreed on Thursday to cooperate in unseating the VMRO-DPMNE-led government of Nikola Gruevski.
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