Category Archives: Macedonia

Macedonia – Government tops the poll at local elections

Local elections were held in Macedonia at the weekend. They took place against a background of political crisis that started late last year. At one time, the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) party had threatened to boycott the local elections. However, Balkan Insight reports that a few weeks ago a deal was reached between the opposition and the ruling Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO–DPMNE) party whereby the opposition would contest the local elections in return for the government holding talks about holding an early general election. This was one of the main demands of the opposition. Anyway, the local elections were held at the weekend and, as this context suggests, they were more politically significant than perhaps some local elections at other times.

The Macedonian Information Centre is reporting that the turnout was a very respectable 57.6%, which was somewhat higher than the 2009 figure. So, it appears as if the opposition voters did go to the polls. However, the results show that the government has done very well. The official report states that the ruling VMRO-DPMNE topped the poll in 54 municipalities, the SDSM led in 7, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) party led in 12, while five other smaller parties led in one municipality each and independents in two. It is a two-round electoral system. So, there will be a second round in two weeks times.

Commenting on the results last night, the leader of the opposition SDSM party, former President of Macedonia and a former PM, Branko Crvenkovski, has hinted that the opposition may boycott the second round of the election. However, external observers are quoted as saying that the number of electoral irregularities was small. There is a report on the results at Balkan Insight here.

Macedonia – Political crisis deepens

The situation in Macedonia is getting very tense.

In the autumn of last year there were severe problems within the ruling VMRO–DPMNE/DUI coalition as the ethnic Albanian party, the DUI, opposed what they saw as as the VMRO–DPMNE’s bill to provide compensation for war veterans who had fought against the Albanians in the short conflict in 2001. The DUI lodged around 15,000 amendments to the bill in parliament, effectively stopping its discussion. To my knowledge, the bill has yet to be adopted.

Then, in December 2012 there was a crisis between the government and the opposition SDSM party over the budget. There is a very nice review of events in a paper by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung here.

Basically, the opposition adopted a similar tactic to the DUI and lodged more than a 1,000 amendments to the budget. This time, there was a deadline as the budget had to be passed by the end of the year. The government adopted some of the opposition’s amendments, but was accused of acting unconstitutionally and/or flouting parliamentary procedure to ensure the passage of the budget. There were mass protests outside parliament. On 24 December when the budget was due to be discussed, opposition deputies attacked the Speaker of the House. The security services evicted all opposition deputies and journalists and the budget was passed. The PM accused the opposition of, in effect, trying to launch a coup. The SDSM has since boycotted parliament and threatened to boycott local elections that are scheduled for next month.

The SDSM really wants a general election. However, the government refuses to hold one. To try to force one, the SDSM has now resorted to a new strategy. According to Balkan Insight, it has threatened to resign en masse from parliament. Now, Macedonia has a list electoral system. So, usually if a deputy resigns, then the next person on the list takes the outgoing deputy’s place. However, the SDSM is saying that it is resigning its whole list, so there can be no replacements. According to Balkan Insight, this could lead to a ‘partial’ parliamentary election i.e. an election for the opposition’s 43 seats. Perhaps more likely, though, parliament will simply function without the presence of the opposition deputies.

It goes without saying that this is a dangerous situation. The opposition is now relying on extra-parliamentary tactics to achieve its aim. The chances of a deal when the opposition insists on a general election and the government refuses are very small. Macedonia has faced similar situations in the period since 1990, but this one is particularly tense.

Macedonia – No-confidence motion

On Friday, the Macedonian government survived a vote of no-confidence. MINA reports that the government won 68 votes, whereas 42 deputies voted against in the 123-deputy parliament.

The government is a coalition of the VMRO–DPMNE party and the Albanian DUI party. Recently, the parties have been at odds over the so-called Army Law, which, according to a report in SE Times, “envisions compensation for disabled war veterans and the families of deceased soldiers, free primary health care for defenders and the families of deceased soldiers and free medical treatment for those who were wounded.” The problem is that the bill is seen by ethnic Albanians as only rewarding those who fought against them in the short conflict in 2001.

The no-confidence vote was called on Thursday by the opposition socialists. They wanted to heighten the tensions between the ruling parties and underline the poor economic situation.

However, it seems as if the government was solid. They have, as I understand it, 71 seats in the legislature. So, there was very little slippage.

The previous no-confidence motion was in June 2007. The government also survived that one.

Macedonia – New government

Following last month’s parliamentary election, the new government of Macedonia was been approved by the new legislature.

The outgoing coalition of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO–DPMNE) and the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration has been returned. As before, there is also a member of the Socialist Party. (The Socialist Party is part of the VMRO–DPMNE alliance).

The Macedonia Information Agency is reporting that 70 deputies voted for the new government and 40 opposed it. These figures confuse me. The opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) has 42 seats. However, the MIA report states that the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), which has 8 seats, also voted against the government. So, it seems as if the opposition was not totally united.

Macedonia – Legislative election

The snap parliamentary election in Macedonia was held on Sunday. The outgoing coalition of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO–DPMNE) and the Albanian Democratic Union for Integration lost votes and seats but has done enough to be returned.

Here are the results from the Macedonia Electoral Commission.

VMRO–DPMNE – 38.98%, 56 seats (-6)
Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) – 32.78%, 42 seats (+15)
Democratic Union for Integration – 10.24%, 15 seats (-3)
Democratic Party of Albanians – 5.9%, 8 seats (-3)
National Democratic Revival (Albanian) – 2.67%, 2 seats (+2)

Turnout was 63.48%

Macedonia – Snap election called

There will be a snap parliamentary in Macedonia on 5 June. The previous parliamentary election was held in June 2008. At that election, the coalition led by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO–DPMNE) won a small majority. At the presidential election in April 2009 the VMRO–DPMNE candidate was successful.

A crisis has been brewing in Macedonia since the end of January. At that time, the opposition parties in the legislature walked out of parliament and boycotted proceedings. They did so because of a court decision that froze the bank account of the A1 TV station. They saw this decision as a limitation on freedom of speech. They have still not returned to the legislature. The opposition is led by former president, Branko Crvenkovski, who leads the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM).

There have been various meetings between the government and the opposition to try to resolve the crisis. The opposition has been particularly wary of an election held on the basis of the old electoral register, which, it says, contains many inaccuracies.

While both the VMRO–DPMNE and the SDSM have accepted the need for early elections, it has been difficult to reach agreement on the details. Now, it seems as if an election will be held on 5 June. The SDSM party has agreed to take part in the election, but will not be returning to parliament.

Cohabitation – Macedonia

This is a series of posts that records the cases of cohabitation in countries with semi-presidential constitutions. Cohabitation is defined as the situation where the president and prime minister are from different parties and where the president’s party is not represented in the cabinet. Presidents classed as non-party cannot generate any periods of cohabitation.

Here is my list of cohabitations in Macedonia:

Nov 2002 – May 2004
President – Boris Trajkovski (VMRO-DPMNE); PM – Branko Crvenkovski (SDSM/ZMZ): Coalition – SDSM/ZMZ, DUI

Aug 2006 – April 2009
President – Branko Crvenkovski (SDSM/ZMZ); PM – Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE); Coalition – Until July 2008 VMRO-DPMNE, DPA, NSDP, DOM; From July 2008-; VMRO-DPMNE, DUI

Source of party affiliations: http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Macedonia.htm

Party abbreviations:
VMRO-DPMNE: Vnatresna Makedonska Revolucionerna Organizaija-Demokratska Partija na Makedonsjo Nacionalno Edinstvo (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity)
SDSM/ZMZ: Socijaldemokratska Partija na Makedonija (Social Democratic Party of Macedonia)/Za Makedonija Zaedno (Together for Macedonia)
DUI: Bashkimi Demokratik për Integrim/Demokratska Unija za Integracija (Democratic Union for Integration)
DPA: Partia Demokratike Shqiptare/Demokratska Partija na Albancite (Democratic Party of Albanians)
NSDP: Nova Socialdemokratska Partija (New Social-Democrat Party)

Macedonia – Presidential election 2nd round

The second round of the presidential election in Macedonia was held on 5 April. The Macedonia Information Service has the following figures:

Turnout 42.69%

This figure is very important because if fewer than 40% had voted, then the election would have been invalid.

In terms of the votes cast the following figures are provided:

Gjorge Ivanov (VMRO-DPMNE), 451,365 votes, 63.1%
Ljubomir Frckovski (SDSM), 263,457 votes, 36.9%

The VMRO-DPMNE win ends the current period of cohabitation.

Macedonia – Presidential election

Macedonia held a presidential election on 22 March. Southeast European Times reports the following results with most of the votes counted:

Turnout 53.9%
Gjorge Ivanov (VMRO-DPMNE), 35.1%
Ljubomir Frckovski (SDSM), 20.3%

In addition, Balkan Insight gives some other figures:

Ljube Boskoski (Independent), about 15%
Imer Selmani (New Democracy), about 15%
Agron Buxhaku (Democratic Union for Integration) 7.5%
Nano Ruzin (Liberal Democrats) 4%
Mirushe Hoxha (Democratic Party of Albanians) 3%

The second ballot will be on 5 April. Recall that Macedonia’s president is weak with a Shugart and Carey score of 2 (Elgie and Moestrup eds., Semi-presidentialism in Central and Eastern Europe, 2008), though with a Siaroff score of 4, and that a VMRO-DPMNE win would end the current period of cohabitation.

Macedonia – Election resources

Macedonia will hold a presidential election on 22 March. The incumbent, Branko Crvenkovski (SDSM/ZMZ), is not standing for re-election. Recall that since August 2006 there has been cohabitation between the president and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski (VMRO-DPMNE) and his VMRO-DPMNE, DPA, NSDP, DOM coalition (since July 2008, just VMRO-DPMNE, DUI).

One report suggests that the VMRO-DPMNE candidate, Georgi Ivanov, is leading the polls. A real twist is that an ethnic Albanian candidate, Imer Selmani, from the new New Democracy party (if you see what I mean) is within a whisker of being able to contest the second ballot ahead of the social democratic candidate (the candidate of the incumbent president’s party).

Anyway, Balkan Insight has a nice set of resources about the election, including candidate profiles etc.