Macedonian MPs started debating a no-confidence motion filed by the opposition VMRO-DPMNE party against the government on April 11. The opposition party accused the government of increasing crime and corruption, and causing economic stagnation.
The Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) and its coalition partner the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), supported by another small ethnic Albanian party, have a slim majority of 62 MPs in the 120-seat parliament. This means it is unlikely that the no-confidence motion, filed on April 8, will succeed.
VMRO-DPMNE would need 61 votes for the motion to be successful, with the vote to take place probably late this evening or on April 12, but is not expected to be able to muster this number.
Instead, the vote is seen as a test for the reform agenda of the government, which came to power in May 2017, and is expected to start debating reform laws as soon as April 12. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is planning a government reshuffle and the possible expansion of the ruling majority in the parliament to include more parties.
Relations between the SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE are highly acrimonious. VMRO-DPMNE MPs only returned to the parliament for the debate after a several-month boycott following the arrest of several its MPs involved in violent incidents in the parliament in April 2017.
The party accused the government of having no capacity to run the country. Its MPs also said that in the past 10 months the government failed to meet its pre-election promises to improve the economy and implement reforms.
The government was blamed for economic stagnation, a fall in investments a failure to increase salaries and pensions, and a rise in the country’s indebtedness, on top of what VMRO-DPMNE said was an increase in crime and corruption.
Opposition MPs say that the government neglected issues of national interest, and failed to create a consensus as it tries to solve the name dispute with Greece. Zaev’s government has been in talks with Greek officials to try and solve the long-standing conflict with Athens — which objects to the use of the name “Macedonia” — in an attempt to unblock Macedonia’s EU and Nato integration processes. The government also signed a friendship treaty with Bulgaria as it seeks to mend relations with neighbouring countries.
The head of the SDSM parliamentary group Tomislav Tuntev said that the statements by VMRO-DPMNE MPs are “untrue” and not supported by “objective and measurable criteria”.
Tuntev defended the government, saying it has improved relations with Macedonia’s neighbours, introduced a cheap electricity tariff for households and solved the problem with workers laid off during illegal privatisations of factories after the fall of communism.
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