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News 19 May 17

Zaev Mulls his Cabinet Lineup in Macedonia

Macedonia's Prime Minister-designate, Zoran Zaev, is counting on several well-known names from his party as new ministers, although he may invite some civic activists into his cabinet as well, BIRN has been told.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
 Macedonia's Prime Minister-designate, Zoran Zaev. Photo: MIA

The Social Democrats' vice president Radmila Shekerinska and the party's secretary general Oliver Spasovski are almost sure candidates for key ministerial posts in the new government led by the Social Democrat head Zoran Zaev, BIRN has found out.

Shekerinska, who was Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs back in 2005 when Macedonia acquired EU candidate member status, is a serious candidate for resuming the same office or for leading the Foreign Ministry, an unnamed source close to the party's leadership told BIRN.

Spasovski, on the other hand, "is a serious candidate for new Interior Minister, should this ministry belong to the SDSM [the Social Democrats]", after inter-party government talks which are on the way, conclude, the source said.

Spasovski led the Interior Ministry during much of the past two years, but as an interim minister in the government that was assembled in order to prepare the December 11 general elections. As such, he had only limited authority over the ministry which he was forced to share with members of the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party.

Another former participant in the interim government, Kire Naumov, is mentioned as a candidate for new Finance Minister.

Another prominent SDSM member, law professor Renata Deskoska, is mentioned as a probable pick for the post of new Justice Minister.

According to BIRN's source, "nothing is definite yet, as we still have to talk to our partners [the three ethnic Albanian parties that form part of the new majority] and divide the ministerial positions".

However, the same source said that the SDSM will try not to recruit many new ministers from the ranks of current MPs, "as we would like to have a strong parliamentary group as well".

In that regard, the Prime Minister-designate is allegedly mulling offering some ministerial positions to prominent experts and civil activists who were critical of the former VMRO DPMNE led government. However, names have not been mentioned.

After much delay, Zaev received a mandate to form the new government from President Gjorge Ivanov on Wednesday. Starting from then, Zaev has 20 days to finalize his government platform and submit his proposed cabinet to parliament.

However, he has said he will try to speed things up and submit it earlier, within ten days.

This will depend on how quickly he wraps up government talks with his ethnic Albanian partners from the Besa [oath] party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, and the Alliance for Albanians. Together with the SDSM they control 67 of the 120 seats in parliament.

On Friday, Zaev plans to meet DUI leader Ali Ahmeti to discuss the new government after which more details may be known.

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