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In a new bid to force an early general election, opposition Social Democrat MPs say they will resign from parliament 'in days'.
Social Democrats leader Branko Crvenkovski | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
The opposition Social Democrats issued their resignation threat, saying the government of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had ignored their demands for early general elections.
The MPs' resignations will arrive “in coming days”, the Social Democratic Party's secretary general, Andrej Petrov, said.
They will resign “as it becomes clear that the opposition legislators cannot contribute to overcoming the crisis… and may only serve to legitimize this government.”
Macedonia's latest political crisis erupted on December 24 when government parties passed a budget for 2013 in only minutes, after opposition MPs and journalists were kicked out of parliament by security and police.
The day saw a tense stand-off in Skopje between several thousand pro- and anti-government protesters, separated by a police cordon.
Opposition MPs have since launched a parliament boycott and called on their supporters to stage acts of civil disobedience.
Prime Minister Gruevski has accused the opposition of attempting a coup, and has rejected their demand for early general elections in March, alongside regular local polls.
“We are still ready to talk openly… but without a deal on early general elections we will not participate in the local elections and will not return to the parliament,” Petrov said.
The opposition holds 42 of the 123 seats in parliament.
The resignations “will further deepen the crisis and will surely be bad for the country’s European integration,” Etem Aziri, a political sciences professor from the Tetovo-based South East European University, commented.
According to electoral law, if a legislator resigns, his or her place is taken by the next candidate in line from the electoral list of the same party.
The law does not say clearly what will happen if the party withdraws its list of candidates entirely.
In the last general election, the country was divided into six electoral units, each contributing 20 legislators. Three more are elected from the diaspora.
Since the opposition legislators come from all six electoral units, in theory it could mean that snap polls may have to be held nationwide.
Several thousand opposition supporters marched in Skopje on Sunday, calling on police minister Gordana Jankulovska to resign and demanding early elections.
In the Vellusha area of Prishtina, men in beards and women in full veil are a common sight, as hard-line Muslims stake a claim to part of the Kosovo capital.