North Macedonian lawmakers will vote on November 11 on a motion of no confidence in the Social Democrat-led government.
Speaker Talat Xhaferi scheduled the vote after opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski of the right-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) put forward the motion following Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s failure to make good of his promise last week to resign after his Social Democratic Union (SDSM) suffered a trouncing defeat in local elections.
The main battleground in the elections on October 31 was Skopje, where SDSM incumbent Mayor Petre Shilegov lost to Danela Arsovska of the VMRO-DPMNE.
Mickoski, who has called for early elections following SDSM’s defeat in the local polls, argued that the opposition now had a slim majority in parliament, with 61 out of 120 lawmakers, that would be enough to overthrow the government.
The decisive factor will be a promised change of sides by the small BESA movement, a center-right ethnic Albanian party that is currently a coalition partner in Zaev’s cabinet.
If the no-confidence motion passes on November 11, President Stevo Pendarovski will have to appoint another politician who can command a majority in parliament to form a new government.
Observers believe it is possible that neither Mickoski nor the SDSM will succeed. This would then result in new elections.
Zaev was elected prime minister in 2017 after 10 years of right-wing rule led by Nikola Gruevski, whose government was shaken by a wiretapping scandal revealed by Zaev.
As the political fight to form a new majority escalates ahead of a no-confidence vote, due on Thursday, each MP in North Macedonia’s various ethnic Albanian parties feels a kingmaker.
Skender Rexhepi, MP from the small opposition “Alternative” party, on Monday raised eyebrows when he announced he had been duped into signing the opposition initiative, not knowing he would be on the same list as another small party, Levica.
“Under no circumstances will I accept to see my signature standing on the same list with the signatures of those who have built their political careers by offending Albanians,” Rexhepi told TV 21, referencing the large ethnic Albanian community.
But Ziadin Sela, MP and head of the Alliance for Albanians, and a staunch opponent of Zaev’s junior ethnic Albanian partner, the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI, scorned Rexhepi’s claims of ignorance.
“When in trouble, a person tries to find non-grounded justifications and lies. Nobody [on the list of signatures seeking a vote of no confidence] is a child and everyone knows that the list that has been signed was made to topple the government,” said Sela, whose party holds eight of the 120 seats in parliament.
All the Albanian parties that now show support for a new majority say their main motive is to oust the junior ruling DUI of Ali Ahmeti, who has been part of governments for 12 years, and whose DUI remains the biggest ethnic Albanian party in the country.
On Monday, Arben Taravari, Secretary General of the Alliance for Albanians and reconfirmed mayor of the Albanian-majority municipality of Gostivar, predicted that the DUI will be forced into opposition within “two or three weeks”.
“The majority of parties that are part of the [Zaev] cabinet are interested in creating a new majority, especially without the DUI. A new hope will arise, especially among Albanians, in sending this party into opposition,” Taravari said. / argumentum.al with reporting by RFE, dpa, Birn