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Macedonian government says if opposition MPs resign from parliament, simultaneous by-elections may take place for the vacated seats - but no general election will be held.
Macedonian parliament | Photo by: Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Macedonia's ruling party, VMRO- DPMNE, says that if opposition Social Democrat MPs resign their seats, elections will be held only for the 42 vacated seats, not for all the other seats in the 123-member parliament.
Ilija Dimovski, head of VMRO DPMNE communications, said opposition MPs had a right to quit, “but that does not mean we have to hold all-out general elections”.
On Sunday, the Social Democratic Party's secretary general, Andrej Petrov, said their MPs would resign from parliament "in days", to force the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to agree to an early general election in March.
Jani Makraduli, an MP, on Monday said the resignations would take place “as a last resort” if all other efforts to reach a deal on snap polls failed.
For more than a month, the opposition has been boycotting the parliament and has been staging continuous protests, demanding for early general elections in March, alongside regular local elections.
The political crisis erupted on December 24 when the 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.
Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has accused the opposition of attempting a coup, and has rejected their demand for early general elections.
Macedonian electoral law leaves several options in case a legislator or group of legislators resigns.
By law, the State Election Commission first offers the empty seat to the next candidate in line from the electoral list of the same party, a process that could take months to complete.
If all candidates on the list refuse the offer, the state sets a date for a by-election in the vacant seat, or seats, but not for the rest.
Even these elections may not happen, however, because by law parliament can continue to function without the presence of the opposition MPs.
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 a mass of by-elections being held across the country.
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