Macedonia’s long-time coalition partners, the conservative VMRO-DPMNE and the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), have agreed on the main points of a new coalition deal, Macedonian media reported on January 23. The agreement is expected to be announced over the weekend.
A new VMRO-DPMNE - DUI coalition will leave Macedonia where it was three years ago after the spring 2014 election, which was contested by the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM). Although the SDSM increased its share of the vote in the December 2016 snap election, the party has not succeeded in dislodging VMRO-DPMNE, which has been in power since 2006.
A new coalition between the two parties still seems to be possible even though VMRO-DPMNE said on January 13 it will not accept the two main demands set by the ethnic Albanian DUI, even if this means it fails to form a new government.
The two demands are amending the constitution to allow the Albanian language to be used on the whole territory of Macedonia and extending the mandate of the Special Public Prosecution (SPO).
“DUI’s sources revealed some details about the deal, which contains sections for extending the use of the Albanian language, even in municipalities where Albanians are less than 20%,” Albanian-language daily Lajm reported. However, the two parties did not agree on the use of the Albanian language throughout Macedonia.
Neither VMRO-DPMNE or DUI have yet confirmed the information, and no further details have been provided.
In Macedonia's December 11 general election, VMRO-DPMNE won 51 seats versus 49 gained by the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM). DUI took 10 seats. The remaining seats are divided among other three ethnic Albanian parties. SDSM, which campaigned hard against its conservative rival, still says it expects that VMRO-DPMNE will fail to form a new government.
Meanwhile, broadcaster Telma said on January 23 quoting VMRO-DPMNE sources that the party is holding talks with DUI, but that it will stick to its previous standpoint not to allow the SPO's mandate to be extended. Telma sited MP Antonio Milososki from VMRO-DPMNE as saying that the negotiations between the two parties will be intensified in the next few days.
Gruevski has to propose the new cabinet by January 29 or the mandate to form the government will be given to another party.
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