Balkan Insight reports that Macedonia has passed a constitutional amendment that affects the election of the president.
The amendment reduces the turnout needed to elect the president. Assuming no candidate won a majority of the registered electorate at the first ballot, a second ballot is required. Regarding the second ballot, Article 81 of the 1991 constitution stated:
1) A candidate is elected President if he/she wins a majority of the votes of those who voted, provided more than half of the registered voters voted.
2) If in the second round of voting no candidate wins the required majority of votes, the whole electoral procedure is repeated.
In other words, the successful candidate still needed to win a majority of the registered electorate.
It appears that the various parties and the EU considered the threshold to be too high. Therefore, it has been reduced. Now, the threshold is 40% of the registered electorate – the clause that only two candidates can contest the second ballot has not been changed. (The BDI party had proposed a change to a parliamentary system with the president elected by parliament).
Constitutional amendments can be made by a two-thirds majority in the Assembly.
The next presidential election will be held on 15 March 2009.
There are new governments in both (FYR)Macedonia and Serbia following the recent elections in the two countries.
In (FYR)Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s VMRO DPMNE party, which won the election convincingly, has switched Albanian coalition partners. Now, the Democratic Union for Integration has joined the government, displacing its bitter rival the Democratic Party of Albanians. Together, they hold about two-thirds of the seats in parliament.
In Serbia there is a new prime minister with Mirko Cvetkovic taking over from former Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. Prime Minister Cvetkovic represents President Boris Tadic’s For a European Serbia coalition that was the largest group following the election. Balkan Insight reports that President Tadic’s coalition has joined forces in government with the Socialist Party of Serbia, while there are four non-party ministers and one representing Serbia’s predominantly Muslim region of Sandzak. This gives the government a slim majority of 127 seats in the 250-seat parliament.
The ruling party in Macedonia, the VMRO-DPMNE, seems to have won a big victory in Saturday’s election. RFE/RL reports the following results:
VMRO-DPMNE – 48 %
Social Democrats (SDSM) – 23%
BDI (Albanian) – 11%
PDSh – 10%
The election was marred by violence in some parts of the Albanian areas. There will be a revote in these areas. This vote will not alter the VMRO-DPMNE’s dominant position in the government, but it may change the balance of power between the two Albanian parties. It may also change the complexion of the coalition as the VMRO-DPMNE has been in coalition with the PDSh since 2006, yet the BDI is again likely to be the largest Albanian party and will consider that it should be the privileged partner in government.
Given the president is from the SDSM party, this vote will continue the period of cohabitation in Macedonia. The next presidential election is scheduled for 2009.
There is a parliamentary election in Macedonia on 1 June. The election was brought about when the Macedonia parliament voted to dissolve itself on 12 April. The decision was taken in reaction to Greece’s decision to veto Macedonia’s entry into NATO largely because of the dispute over country’s name. The decision to dissolve was supported by the governing parties. The last elections were held in 2006.
As I mentioned in a previous post, Macedonia is currently experiencing a period of cohabitation. The president is from the Social Democratic Union (SDSM), while the prime minister is from the VMRO-DPMNE, which is in a coalition with the DPA, NSDP, DOM, PDP and PEI. The president is a largely symbolic figure, though the president does enjoy some powers in the area of foreign and defence policy making.
Macedonia has a two-block party system. In this election, according to Balkan Insight, the VMRO-DPMNE-led block is a coalition of 18 parties, while the SDSM-led block comprises 8 parties. The incumbent VMRO-DPMNE-led expects to do well, which would make sense given it supported the snap election and the opposition SDSM opposed it (or at least they abstained in the dissolution vote).