After VMRO DPMNE failed to form a government on Sunday, President Gjorge Ivanov said he wanted proof of a parliamentary majority before giving any other party or alliance a mandate to make the same attempt.
|Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov. Photo: MIA|
Following a day of meetings with leaders of the main political parties, Macedonia’s President said he wanted proof of a parliamentary majority before handing any party or alliance a mandate to form a government.
“In other words [I want] first confirmation and proof of a majority, and then [I will give] a mandate for forming a government, as stipulated in … the constitution,” President Ivanov explained.
The statement ended the dilemma over whether Ivanov would now give the mandate to the main opposition Social Democratic Union, SDSM, led by Zoran Zaev, whose party came second in the December general elections.
The head of the winning VMRO DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski, was first given the mandate but missed Sunday’s deadline to form a majority.
Ivanov this time set no deadliness for party leaders, but said that if neither side can muster a majority, parliament would have to convene, opening the way for yet another early election.
In the December elections, VMRO DPMNE won 51 of the 120 seats in parliament, while the SDSM won 49.
Either side needs the support of at least 61 MPs to have a majority. This makes both parties dependent on the support of ethnic Albanian parties who together control 20 seats.
While the SDSM had called on Ivanov to entrust them with the mandate after the ruling party failed to form a government, VMRO DPMNE has since Sunday called for early elections.
It also claimed that giving the SDSM a mandate would only destabilize the already divided country.
Ivanov said that during his talks with party leaders they had discussed all possible options, including the possible formation of a broad coalition government.
He said whoever succeeded in forming the government should have two priorities, protection of Macedonia’s unitary state and systemic reforms to get the country out of its current political crisis.
President accused of discrimination:
Ivanov’s decision not to give a mandate to the opposition, after previously giving that privilege to the ruling party, drew criticism from some observers who accused him of double standards and of discriminating against the opposition.
|Opposition SDSM leader, Zoran Zaev. Photo: MIA|
“This is utterly unprincipled behaviour”, university professor and former Education Minister Nenad Novkovski said.
“The procedure started with one set of rules and now he is introducing different rules,” Novkovski added.
It was a “political scandal that has thrown the country straight into the depths of the crisis”, university professor and former Foreign Minister Denko Maleski told Deutsche Welle.
After meeting the President, SDSM leader Zaev said they had been informed about Ivanov’s decision. “We will make our own decisions and inform the public about our future steps,” he added.
Zaev criticized VMRO DPMNE’s insistence on fresh elections, saying that would not be good for Macedonia, “because the crisis will deepen further”.
It had been hoped that the December 11 elections would resolve a prolonged political crisis that revolves around opposition claims that as Prime Minister, Gruevski illegally wiretapped thousands of people.
The claims emerged from tapes revealed by the SDSM in 2015. Gruevski says foreign intelligence services gave the wiretaps to the opposition in order to destabilize the country.