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News 18 Sep 17

More Macedonians Feel Country is Stable, Survey Shows

Since the new government was formed, Macedonians feel significantly more optimistic about their political situation and EU membership prospects, a new survey reveals.

Zoran Zaev, Macedonian Prime Minister. Photo: MIA

The number of Macedonians who see the political situation in the Balkan country as “peaceful and stable” rose from only 5 per cent in March to 44 per cent in August, a survey published on Monday by the International Republican Institute, IRI, an NGO, says.

“This development is likely linked to the recent formation of a new government after two years of bitter political conflict and uncertainty,” IRI wrote in a press statement.

Zoran Zaev and his Social Democratic Union, SDSM, formed a government in May following months a political crisis which saw the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party refusing to cede power following the result of the December 11 election.

The formation of Zaev’s cabinet ended two years of political turmoil revolving around claims that VMRO DPMNE leader Nikola Gruevski had, as Prime Minister, orchestrated the illegal surveillance of over 20,000 people.

Gruevski has insisted that compromising tapes of officials’ conversations, which the SDSM released in batches, were “created” by unnamed foreign intelligence services and given to the opposition to destabilise his government and the country.

The IRI research showed that the number of Macedonians who see the current situation as “intense and uncertain” fell from 62 per cent in March to 44 per cent in August, while the number of those who described situation in Macedonia as “critical and unstable” fell from 32 per cent in March to 10 per cent per cent.

“Whereas previous IRI polls reflected deep unease and pessimism over Macedonia’s stability and trajectory, the results of this survey are highly encouraging,” Jan Surotchak, IRI’s Regional Director for Europe, wrote.

“The new government should recognize this as an opportunity to regain the trust of the people of Macedonia and take meaningful actions to address the issues of greatest concern to citizens,” he added.

The IRI research also revealed that Macedonians now feel more optimistic about the country’s EU and economic prospects.

“The number who think the country is closer to joining the EU than when it first received candidate status jumped from just 13 per cent in March 2017 to 41 per cent.

“Support for EU membership continues to be strong at 77 per cent—a five-point improvement from March 2017,” IRI wrote in a statement.

While in March, only 21 per cent of people believed the country would see an economic improvement within the next two years, that percentage has since risen to 33.

This survey conducted for IRI by Brima market research was carried out between August 4 and 21 through face-to-face interviews with 1,105 respondents.

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