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News 30 Apr 14

Macedonia Opposition Spurn Seats in Parliament

The board of the opposition Social Democrats said the party will not take up its seats in parliament following its defeat in Sunday's elections, which the party blames on fraud.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

 SDSM leader, Zoran Zaev

After the executive board of the Social Democatic Party, SDSM, on Thursday unanimously supported the decision not to take up any seats in parliament, the party’s central committee is due officially to confirm the move on Thursday evening.

“After the systematic theft of votes in the elections, the executive board voted unanimously not to take up seats in parliament. The central committee is to formalize this decision and decide on other steps at a session today,” party spokesperson Petre Silegov told Balkan Insight.

According to the initial results of the general election, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski won 61 of the 123 seats in parliament, and the SDSM 34.

Gruevski said that the SDSM's move would harm the country, and he hoped they would change their minds.

“This is a harmful decision, both for the country and for the opposition party itself. The party still has time, until the formation of the [new] parliament, to reconsider its decision,” Gruevski commented on Wednesday.

By law, the constituent session of the new parliament must take place within 20 days of the end of the election. If the SDSM persists is refusing to take up its seats, one possible option is staging fresh elections for the empty seats.

It remains to be seen whether a political solution will be reached, or whether the opposition will now call on its supporters to stage protests, which it has not ruled out and would certainly deepen political rifts in the country.

In a joint statement, the delegation of the European Union and the US embassy in Skopje, urged party leaders “to engage constructively on reforms that will further the process of Euro-Atlantic integration” and jointly address shortcomings in the election process.  

They said they “echo” the assessment of OSCE/ODIHR election monitors that the polls were well administered but overshadowed by “deficiencies and inequities in the broader electoral system” that, if left unaddressed, “risk undermining faith in the democratic process”.

The OSCE previously said the election failed to meet key standards concerning the separation of state and party activities, the existence of level playing field between the parties, neutrality of the media, accuracy of the electoral roll and the possibility of gaining redress through an effective complaints procedure.

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