Macedonia Opposition Looks Closer to Forming Government

Macedonia’s Social Democrats look closer to forming a government after the key ethnic Albanian party hinted that it would reveal its decision on whether to support it by Friday.
After a meeting on Wednesday night, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, confirmed that one key obstacle to backing a new opposition Social Democrat-led government – a new law extending the use of the Albanian language – had been removed.

The party said that in general it now accepted the draft language law previously ironed out with the Social Democrats, SDSM, and that only minor issues remain to be settled with the SDSM before a decision is passed.The DUI, which has insisted on the new law, did not give any details on what had been agreed with the SDSM.
But the DUI said it had given a green light to its leader, Ali Ahmeti, to decide “at any given moment” on whether to extend formal support to the SDSM and its leader, Zoran Zaev.

Sources from the party told BIRN that a final decision is expected to be reached on Friday, when the party has announced another meeting of its central presidency.

“We still have some issues to settle at that meeting but, on the other hand, the time [to reach a decision] is short,” the source said under condition of anonymity.

Macedonia has been without a new government for almost two months, since the December 11 elections ended with a near-tie between the former ruling VMRO DPMNE party and the opposition SDSM. The SDSM won 49 of the 120 seats in parliament in the elections and so needs the support of at least 61 MPs to command a majority.
Two smaller ethnic Albanian parties, the Alliance for Albanians and the BESA party, which together control eight MPs, have already pledged support.
However, the support of the DUI’s ten MPs is crucial if the SDSM is muster the necessary majority.

The DUI – and other Albanian parties – want the Albanian language made official throughout the country. It is currently official only in those municipalities where Albanians make up over 20 per cent of the population. Albanians make up about a quarter of the population of Macedonia.

The terms of the new law may also extend the use of Albanian in the government, where ministers are now compelled to speak only in Macedonian.
It is also expected that the same right may be extended to the speaker of parliament. As of now, MPs may only address plenary sessions in Albanian.

The long delay in forming a new government has been largely down to the DUI’s indecisiveness about whom to support since the election.
The party, which since 2008 had been in a coalition government with VMRO DPMNE, has insisted it needs more time to decide which of the main parties to support this time.


Source: Balkan Insight / BIRN