Macedonia's SDSM to form broad opposition front for Dec 11 election

Macedonia's SDSM to form broad opposition front for Dec 11 election
By bne IntelliNews October 4, 2016

Macedonia’s main opposition party the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) plans to join forces with other left-wing and centrist parties to form a wide front in the upcoming snap general election on December 11. 

The SDSM aims to defeat the governing VMRO-DPMNE, which has ruled since 2006. The party says it believes it will win the election even though the latest poll conducted by the local Pavel Satev Institute shows that the conservative VMRO-DPMNE leads with 25.9%, ahead of the SDSM supported by just 15.7% of those surveyed.

“We came to a a decision, the SDSM and all left-wing and centrist parties will form a wide front in alliance with individuals, intellectuals and all interested citizens of Macedonia,” SDSM leader Zoran Zaev told the party congress on October 2, according to a party statement

Zaev said efforts are also being made for right-wing parties to establish a separate opposition block.

During the party congress, the SDSM adopted a plan for urgent reforms, including measures to increase employment, eradicate poverty and raise salaries. Macedonia is one of the poorest countries in Europe with one of the highest jobless rates in the continent, of 24% in Q2.

Zaev also pledged support for micro and mid-sized companies, as the main drivers of Macedonian economy, initially with €20mn per year which will gradually reach an annual €50mn.

The SDSM has accused VMRO-DPMNE of corruption and other criminal actions. In early 2015, Zaev released a series of illegally wiretapped conversations between senior party and government officials, which erupted into a huge scandal with almost daily protests against the regime.

In July, the four main political parties in Macedonia, which include VMRO-DPMNE and the SDSM as well as the two main ethnic Albanian parties, reached a deal to work on holding a free and democratic election as a way for the country to exit the crisis. The election date was agreed on August 31.

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