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News 14 Feb 17

Another Snap Poll Won't Solve Macedonia's Crisis: Survey

If fresh elections were held immediately, Macedonia's ruling and opposition parties would again end up with almost-tied results, leaving the political crisis unresolved, an opinion survey suggested.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
 
 Macedonia held early elections in December. Photo: MIA

Amid the ongoing delay in forming a new government after the December 11 elections, an opinion poll published on Monday suggested that if the polls were repeated, the ruling VMRO DPMNE party and its bitter rival, the opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, would win almost equal support, as they did two months ago.

The survey commissioned and published on Monday by Telma TV and MCMS, an NGO, and carried out by M Prospect agency, suggests that the ruling party would win 23.3 per cent of the votes while the opposition would win 23 per cent.

One interesting find was that the leading ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, which now has 10 MPs and is seen as a crucial ally for any of the two main parties to form a new government, would lose its bargaining chip if the pols were repeated.

The poll suggests that the DUI, which since its formation in 2002 has been the dominant force in the Albanian bloc, would lose its primacy.

Only 3.3 per cent of voters would support the DUI at repeat elections while 3.5 per cent would support the ethnic Albanian newcomer, the Besa party. The Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA would get 2.2 per cent and the Alliance for Albanians 1.5 per cent.

The telephone survey conducted between 4 and 10 of February on a representative sample of 1,000 respondents also suggests that for the first time since independence, the majority of ethnic Albanians would not opt for an Albanian party but rather choose the opposition SDSM.

A total of 20.4 per cent of the ethnic Albanian respondents opted for the SDSM, more than any other ethnic Albanian party. Fifteen per cent of Albanians said they would support Besa, 14 per cent opted for the DUI, 10 per cent supported the DPA while six per cent supported the Alliance for Albanians.

The majority of ethnic Macedonians, 30.6 per cent, opted for the ruling VMRO DPMNE, while 23.8 per cent chose the SDSM, a gap that the opposition would manage to close with its Albanian supporters.

In the aftermath of the December 11 elections, at which VMRO DPMNE won 51 MPs in the 120 seat parliament, just two more than the SDSM's 49, neither of the two big parties has been able to secure a majority of 61 MPs and form a government.

Both need the support of Albanian parties, which control 20 MPs altogether.

The potential kingmaker, the DUI, which won 10 MPs in December, foiled the VMRO DPMNE's attempt to lure them back into a renewed government alliance.

The DUI is however yet to decide whether it will now support a government alliance led by the SDSM.

Majority against repeat elections

Immediately after failing to form government, the ruling VMRO DPMNE caled for repeat polls which would, it said, end the current political stalemate.

However, the opinion poll not only suggests this would not be the case but also that the majority of Macedonian citizens are against this idea.

A total of 56.5 per cent said they were against new elections while 38.6 per cent said it could be the right path to follow.

Support for Special Prosecution

The survey suggests that a convincing majority of respondents support the work of the Special Prosecution, SJO, which was formed through EU mediation in 2015 to investigate allegations of high-level crime.

The majority would also like its deadlines for pressing charges, which in most cases expire in two months, to be prolonged.

A total of 62.8 per cent said they wanted the extension of SJO's deadline while 28.8 per cent were against it. Eight per cent of the respondents gave no answer to the question.

Asked what they thought was the best solution for the political stalemate, 30.,3 per cent opted for a formation of a wide-ranging coalition government, 27.3 per cent chose a government led by the opposition SDSM, while 23.5 per cent said they would support a government led by the ruling VMRO DPMNE, which has been in power since 2006.

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