VMRO-DPMNE is not scared by Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s “threats” that parliamentary speaker Talat Xhaferi will succeed Gjorgje Ivanov if the presidential elections fail this spring, and then the constitution will be changed by which the “father of the nation” would be elected in parliament, and not in direct elections. In the main opposition party, they think that it is another show for the public by the leading politician in the country.
“We do not think about a boycott at all. On the contrary, we are confident in a victory that will be an introduction to the final dismantling of the rule of this non-democratic government,” party sources told Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent Newspaper.
DUI insists on a consensus candidate
VMRO-DPMNE will announce a contest for presidential candidates in two weeks, and the names of those candidates will be known in mid-January. Candidates will have fifteen days to present their vision to municipal committees, and at the final convention on February 16th the opposition’s favorite will be known for the election to be held in late March or early April. The party claims they have not discussed specific names, and that only ratings are monitored and surveys are being made. They think of running a name that is not affiliated with the party, that is not a member, but is of sufficient quality and recognized in order to attract the votes of the undecided.
Even SDSM’s candidate is not yet known, but Zaev confirmed yesterday that he is not planning a transfer from the Government to the presidential villa in Vodno. He said the focus is currently on constitutional changes and securing a two-thirds majority in parliament, and then a presidential candidate will be elected in a fast-track procedure. Their coalition partner DUI expects that the two parties together will elect a consensus candidate that would be acceptable to most of the members of the two largest ethnic communities. DUI is not insisting that the candidate should be of Albanian ethnicity, but certainly the party would then want to be repaid for the given support. In this context, the name of Professor Denko Maleski is mentioned the most. SDSM does not want to speculate whether the party would enter a coalition with DUI, demanding a little more time for analysis.
On the other hand, VMRO-DPMNE said that the party would run independently in the presidential election, that is, together with the coalition partners from “For Better Macedonia”, as for a possible cooperation with the Albanian opposition parties, as it happened in Debar, they will think in the second round of the election.
“We are ready for cooperation with all the parties that will accept our candidate and his vision,” VMRO-DPMNE told Nezavisen Vesnik/Independent Newspaper.
720,000 votes are unachievable with a boycott
Prime Minister Zaev’s “threats” refer to the demands of some analysts close to VMRO-DPMNE to boycott the presidential election unless they are merged with early parliamentary elections. In that case, it is unlikely that in the second round of elections (unless a miracle occurs and we have a winner in the first round), a turnout of 40 percent will be secured. If we make a comparison with the results of the referendum, we will see that SDSM, DUI, and other Albanian parties are capable of generating more than 600,000 votes, but in order to secure a sufficient number of votes, turnout of at least 720,000 voters will be needed. In addition, Albanians, who did not support this government, still voted in favor of the agreement with Greece, and they are absolutely for Macedonia’s membership in the EU and NATO, and one should also take into account the additional disappointment of the voting body of the ruling parties, primarily because of the amnesty for members of the previous government.
Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi is expected to schedule the presidential election in early February. He himself said that he would not run for president of Macedonia. But, if enough number of votes is not secured in the elections, until the holding of new presidential election, the head of the state would practically be the incumbent president of parliament. Xhaferi is the first ethnic Albanian since the establishment of the country’s independence, to become the Parliament Speaker, that is, the first representative of the Albanian political bloc, who is the bearer of one of the three highest posts in the country.
Even more intriguing is Zaev’s announcement that in that case he will go for a new constitutional change, which would be elected by parliament in the future, that is, regular election would not be held.
“Certain parties indisputably think and speak out loud about the possibilities, but in order to realize this idea, a new procedure for constitutional changes is needed. Anyhow, for the time being, the constitutional decision for the president to be elected directly in presidential election remains,” Xhaferi pointed out.
According to the latest polls, Zaev has the biggest rating, followed by VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski. The two claim they will not run for president. Their favorites will be known in a few weeks.