CONTENT PREVIEW
Country Risk

FYR Macedonia's Social Democrats likely to form government by end-May, early election unlikely in six-month outlook

19 May 2017

Key Points

  • A SDSM-led government is likely to remain in power in the six-month outlook challenged by the VMRO-DPMNE, which will be in opposition.
  • Nationalist protests, mainly in the capital Skopje, are likely within the next six months.
  • Relations with Albania and Bulgaria are likely to deepen, while those with Serbia face slight deterioration.

EVENT

On 17 May 2017, Former Yugoslav Republic (FYR) Macedonia president George Ivanov awarded a mandate to form a government to Zoran Zaev, leader of the centre-left Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM).

Protesters entered the parliament building in Skopje after the Social Democrats and Albanian parties voted for Talat Xhaferi as President of parliament. (PA)Protesters entered the parliament building in Skopje after the Social Democrats and Albanian parties voted for Talat Xhaferi as President of parliament. (PA)

SDSM is the second largest party in parliament with 49 seats, following the early election in December 2016. The election was aimed at ending almost two years of political stalemate, which had undermined the country's economic performance.

In granting the government formation mandate to SDSM, Ivanov stated that prior obstacles to giving Zaev a mandate had been removed. He noted that SDSM's leader had provided written guarantees to the president that the unitary character and territorial integrity of FYR Macedonia will be preserved under his leadership. Ivanov had been refusing to grant Zaev a mandate since March, arguing that the latter's aim to form a government in coalition with ethnic Albanian parties with a policy goal of granting more rights to the Albanian minority would threaten the country's "sovereignty and integrity". These additional rights include giving the Albanian language official status throughout the country.

The nationalist Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) - the country's largest party with 51 parliamentary seats - has argued that the conditions of the Albanian parties, the so-called 'Tirana platform', would lead to the federalisation of FYR Macedonia and has called for a new parliamentary election to be held together with the slated local election.

Divergent trends in relations with neighbouring countries

Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borisov has stated that as soon as the government in FYR Macedonia is formed, there will be a bilateral meeting of foreign ministers.

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