The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) also known as Macedonia, held early parliamentary elections, after months of a political and institutional crisis that started in 2014. It was the 8th time that Republic of Macedonia held parliamentary elections after the disintegration of Yugoslavia. 1,784,416 Macedonians were eligible to vote, over 20,000 were registered to vote abroad.
Macedonian crisis and Pržino Agreement
The crisis started at the end of 2014 with students (Студентски Пленум) protesting against an educational reform that the Macedonian government wanted to implement. The government defended that this reform would bring a better educational system to Macedonia, but the students and professors understood that the external exams would be a government interference in the autonomy of universities. The students achieved their goal and the government withdrew its proposal after weeks of demonstrations.
However new protests started in 2015, when the opposition leader and mayor of Strumica Zoran Zaev, from the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), started to release wiretaps (бомба) that revealed diverse corruption scenes from the nine-year government lead by the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE). The Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and other ministers were involved in the scandal. The SDSM boycotted the Macedonian Parliament during months and big demonstrations, pro and anti government, where held in many cities of Macedonia specially after the Kumanovo attack.
The European Union had to mediate meetings between the main political parties,and they achieved an agreement in the 2015 summer. The Pržino Agreement defined that the main opposition party would be part of a caretaker government, the Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski had to resign before end of January 2016 and that a special and independent prosecutor would be nominated to investigate the cases linked to the wiretaps. It was complicated to keep the agreement, the prosecutor team was not elected in the first row. With the new prosecutor team elected and the deal about the transitional government, Nikola Gruevski resigned as Prime Minister in the beginning of 2016, which lead to early general election in June.
In April of 2006 new protesters began in Macedonia, this time Macedonian people were in the streets against the President of the Macedonian Republic Gjorge Ivanov and the interim Prime Minister Emil Dimitriev. The reason for this protest, that was called Colourful Revolution (Шарената револуција), was because of the controversial decision of the President in stopping the investigation about the wiretapping scandal. Macedonians did not want this, so together with opposition political parties claimed that there were no conditions to conduct early elections in June in a free and transparent way. More big demonstrations anti and pro demonstrations were held around Macedonian cities.
There was a boycott from the elections list, the VMRO-DPMNE was the only one to delivery its electoral lists for the June elections, this made it impossible to held elections in June, the early elections were postpone. EU and US ambassadors played another important role during the Colourful Revolution in mediating talks between the two main political parties in Macedonia but no real progress was made, making that international community fear an "Ukrainization of Macedonia”.
The new early elections were finally held on the 11th of December. The electoral night was a bit confused because both SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE claimed victory during the night and their supporters went to the streets to celebrate. SDSM won more fifteen seats, mainly because of the Albanian support, but this was not enough to win. The majority of the 120 available seats in the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia were won by the VMRO-DPMNE, but they lost ten seats compared to the last elections.
VMRO-DPMNE was not able to guarantee an absolute majority with 63 seats as Nikola Gruevski wanted to “allow for political stabilityand steadyprogress in Macedonia to kick in”. The VMRO-DPMNE leader will have to find a political partner to help him to form a stable government, as stated by the President of the Citizens Option for Macedonia (GROM) on the election day when he casted his vote and said that "the loser of these elections should accept the outcome with grace and dignity and congratulate the winner, and he (the winner) should not settle scores but immediately start working. So we may focus on solving the citizen's everyday problems and make up for two lost years from the political crisis”.
This is not so easy in a divided Macedonia which stood still for a long time, prejudicing its own development and the improve of its population life conditions, now is the time for the political parties work together for the welfare of Macedonians. The two main political parties have totaly different perspectives for the future of their country. Zoran Zaev promised official bilingualism, constitutional changes and the redefinition of the Macedonian State, in an attempt to win some votes from the over 25% ethnic Albanians in Macedonia. Nikola Gruevski criticised Zaev's plans, saying that he will be “changing the country completely by instating Albanian as a second official language, implies a Swiss model encompassing cantons, an eventual name change and other issues” and the former Prime Minister is seen with suspicion by the Albanian community.
The Albanian parties will have an important role in the formation of the next Macedonian government, they have lost seven seats in the Parliament but they still hold 20 seats that will make all the difference for a stable government. The Democratic Union for Integration (DUI) was the winner between the Albanian parties with ten seats, however they had the biggest lose of seats with almost half of the seats lost. the new political party BESA won five seats, while the DPA-Movement for Reforms won three seats and the Democratic Party of Albanians won just two.
DUI was part of the coalition with VMRO-DPMNE, and this might be the main reason for their loss in the last elections. Both together will have 61 seats the necessary number to form a government, but it is not predictable that they will be again partners in the new government. Albanians are already saying on social networks that Albanian parties should not support VMRO-DPMNE, they were summoned by the Albanian PM in Tirana for talks right after the elections in Macedonia. In this situation if SDSM is able to unite all the Albanian parties to sustain a government with Zoran Zaev as Prime Minister, Macedonia might have a government as Portugal. Last elections in Portugal were won by the right wing collation but they were not able to sustain the government, this made that the socialists were called by the Portuguese President to form a minority government, with the support of the Left Block, Communists and Greens.
The new structure of the Parliament must start working before the end of December, but the deadline to form the new Macedonian government is 16th of February. There still time for all parties to discuss future coalitions, but with this results will not be easy to find consensus between Macedonian politicians, which can lead to another political crisis and new early elections.