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News 24 Sep 14

Macedonia Ruling Party Threatens Early Election

If the opposition does not end its boycott of parliament soon, Macedonia’s ruling party is considering holding fresh elections in November.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

VMRO DPMNE llegislator, Ilija Dimovski

The ruling VMRO DPMNE party is mulling fresh general elections this November, the coordinator of the party's legislators, Ilija Dimovski, told the media.

“Time will tell whether elections will be held only for the vacant 31 seats of the opposition, or for all the 123 seats in parliament,” Dimovski said on Monday.

“Deadlines are approaching and there has to be an end to the political crisis. There is no space for calculations, or parliament will be pushed against a wall,” he added.

The opposition Social Democratic Party, SDSM rebuffed the idea as counter-productive, insisting on a resumption of political talks.

“It is obvious that VMRO DPMNE does not want to solve the political crisis. This will only deepen the crisis,” SDSM spokesperson Petre Silegov said on Tuesday.

Almost all opposition MPs submitted written resignations to parliament in May after alleging that the ruling parties won the April general and presidential elections by fraud.

The opposition insisted that the ruling VMRO DPMNE party won the elections illegitimately and demanded the formation of a caretaker government to prepare new polls.

However, the VMRO DPMNE leader, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, who has held power since 2006, insisted that no elections in Macedonia had been more democratic than the ones that his party won in April.

Dimovski on Monday said the opposition demand for a caretaker government “was not and will not be acceptable” to his party.

Although the resignation of opposition MPs does not directly affect the work of the new parliament, the dispute is clearly damaging the country's already stalled prospects of further European and Atlantic integration.

Dimovski’s hint of fresh elections comes days after the parliamentary speaker, Trajko Veljanoski, urged the opposition to “act responsibly” and to return to parliament by October 8, when the European Commission is set to publish its annual report on Macedonia’s progress towards EU accession.

The Socal Democrats immediately declined to do so and reiterated their list of demands.

The Prime Minister and the opposition leader, Zoran Zaev, met only once in June in a futile bid to diffuse the row.

For the purposes of general elections, Macedonia is divided into six electoral units, each contributing 20 legislators to the 123-seat parliament. The three remaining seats are elected by voters in the diaspora.

The parties propose lists of 20 candidates in each of the six electoral units. The more votes that a party wins in each of the six units, the more candidates from that list enter parliament.

If additional elections are called, only the vacant seats won previously by the opposition will have to be filled.

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