Macedonia’s parliament dismissed ahead of June 5 general election

Macedonia’s parliament dismissed ahead of June 5 general election
By Valentina Dimitrievska in Skopje April 7, 2016

Macedonia's parliament disbanded itself late on April 6, ahead of the planned snap general election scheduled for June 5. However, it it is still uncertain whether the election will take place as the opposition SDSM party has said it will not participate as conditions for a free election have not been met.

If the election does not go ahead as planned, this will further deepen the persistent political crisis in Macedonia. The country is due to hold early elections this year under a deal struck between the main government and opposition parties - the Przino agreement - following mass protests in 2015.

The assembly was dismissed at around 11pm local time, one hour before the legal deadline, according to a live MRTV broadcast.

Parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski, a member of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party, thanked lawmakers for being part of the assembly during a “challenging period”.

The election has already been postponed once, following an assessment by the ambassadors of the EU and the US that conditions had not been met to hold credible early elections in April. Problematic areas included cleaning up the voters’ registry, achieving agreement on media reforms “to ensure a more level playing field”, as well as concerns about initial reports of pressure and intimidation of voters.

Following the dismissal of the assembly, opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) leader Zoran Zaev announced in a party statement late on April 6 that his party will not participate in "this fake election", as the voters’ registry has not been cleared, there have been no reforms in the media and pressure on voters has not stopped.

"There will be no freedom without a free election," Zaev was quoted as saying. Zaev also announced he will withdraw SDSM representatives from the state election commission.

"I cannot say that the Przino agreement is dead but I know that the assembly has disbanded even though the minimum conditions under the agreement have not been met," Zaev said.

In addition, the parliament has not yet convened a special session to confirm the resignation of interim ministers from the SDSM, as requested by the party.

The EU-brokered Przino agreement was reached in July 2015 to overcome the political crisis in Macedonia, which deepened after the SDSM released a number of tapes with recorded conversations concerning, among other things, the involvement of the VMRO-DPMNE-led government in the judiciary, media and key appointments.