Macedonia fails to call local election due to political vacuum

Macedonia fails to call local election due to political vacuum
By bne IntelliNews March 7, 2017

The deadline for announcing local elections in Macedonia, due to take place this spring, expired on March 6 as there is no parliament speaker to call the vote.

Macedonia is plunging deeper into political crisis. There has been a political vacuum since the December 11 snap general election as there is no elected government, and the country will soon be without its municipal authorities as well.

According to protocol, the local election should be called by the parliament speaker, and voted on by at least 61 MPs. However, following the election, the constitutive session was held, but the speaker was not elected. Consequently, the parliament is not functional. 

The vote, according to the electoral code, should be held within 70-90 days of the date of the announcement. The constitution does allow the parliament to amend the electoral code with a two-thirds majority and to postpone local elections.

Macedonia’s conservative VMRO-DPMNE party, which narrowly won the election, failed to form a coalition government with the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI). President Gjorge Ivanov also refused to give the mandate to form a new government to the runner-up party – the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) – due to fears that the party’s concessions to the ethnic Albanian parties would lead to the disintegration of the country. 

The SDSM is still pushing for Ivanov to give the mandate to form the new government to its leader Zoran Zaev, which would make it possible to solve outstanding issues institutionally, SDSM MP Petre Silegov told broadcaster Alsat-M on March 6.

Meanwhile, the mass protests against the ethnic Albanian platform, whose acceptance was set as a pre-condition for forming a new cabinet, are continuing in Skopje and other cities in Macedonia on a daily basis.

VMRO-DPMNE has repeatedly called for a new early parliamentary election to be held simultaneously with the local elections, but the SDSM opposes this plan.

In the last local elections in spring 2013, VMRO-DPMNE won most of the major positions.

There are 81 municipalities in Macedonia, including the capital Skopje, which has its own mayor but is divided into several separate municipalities.

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