“Let’s not miss the chance as in 2005 when we were in power, and we did not hold early elections, so we lost to the regular ones the very next year.” This is how officials in the ruling Social Democratic Union think after the demands submitted by VMRO-DPMNE for holding early general elections that would be held along with the presidential elections in late March, or early April. The SDSM Executive Committee still hasn’t been called for a session, but the party’s most intensive leadership weekend is in coordination and is holding meetings. Even Prime Minister Zoran Zaev thought of postponing his planned winter vacation in order to participate in the decision making that would be in the interest of the party and the country.
In fact, they are calculating whether and how much would early elections stall the processes in the country, because the institutions will not be able to work as usual, and there will be a new delay in the reforms, which have already been put aside because of the name agreement with Greece. For these reasons, neither the international partners are thrilled with the idea of early general elections, especially because months and months will pass until the whole process is complete and a government is formed, and the result cannot be predicted with certainty.
There will be no obstruction of the processes
“There will be no obstruction of the processes linked to the invitation to join NATO and receiving a green light for the start of EU accession negotiations, because we have completed the task and ratified the Prespa Agreement. Now Greece has to implement what has already been agreed, after which the NATO countries will have to confirm NATO’s invitation for Macedonia in their parliaments. On the other hand, there has to be a presidential election, whether we like it or not, and it will take a lot of time and energy, therefore we would not lose much if we had early general elections along with it,” claims a SDSM official.
According to our information, the biggest obstacle to accepting VMRO-DPMNE’s demands at the moment is the part of a “technical government” that should conduct the elections. SDSM says that everything that has been agreed in Przino will be respected, but they emphasize that a technical government is valid only in regular general elections, and not for extraordinary, as is now the case.
“We need to make the right decision. Polls are in our favour and maybe we should use that advantage. It was similar in 2005 when Vlado Buckovski was Prime Minister. When in the beginning of November we got the status of candidate for EU membership, the party’s ratings increased and we thought of scheduling early general elections, but we decided to wait one more year and wait for regular elections. Unfortunately, we lost, and VMRO-DPMNE with Nikola Gruevski stayed in power for more than ten years,” SDSM pointed out.
Deputy Prime Minister Radmila Sekerinska said yesterday that the VMRO-DPMNE submitted the initiative immediately after the vote in the Assembly on constitutional changes because they wanted to change the subject and forget that Macedonia managed to solve one major problem.
“They want to change the subject because they don’t like it. The subject shows that if you want to solve something – you will solve it, if you want to free the country from isolation – you will free it, if you want a perspective for your citizens – you will offer open, not closed doors. It was due to the initiative to seek elections, but to find a way to prevent them from happening. We will seriously consider the initiative, there are many arguments in favour of such an initiative,” Sekerinska said.
Osmani: Let’s focus on the economy
According to Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani, DUI would now achieve two and a half times better results than in December 2016. The party, as he said, opposed the idea of early elections immediately after the referendum, although even then all the polls showed that they would have an excellent result.
“We maintain our position that the issue of NATO membership and the start of accession negotiations with the EU should be completed. That is the idea why we signed the Prespa Agreement and made the constitutional changes that guarantee our NATO membership. I consider that all political energy should be focused on completing NATO membership and negotiations with the European Union, and applying the idea of 2019 as the year of the economy,” Osmani says without clearly announcing whether Ali Ahmeti’s party is in favour of early general elections.
On Friday evening, while voting in the Parliament on the name change took place, opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski called VMRO-DPMNE’s MPs at the party’s headquarters to ensure that there would be no “traitors” in their ranks this time, as on October 19th. When it became clear that the government has successfully provided two-thirds support, a meeting of the Executive Committee was urgently called, and it was concluded that VMRO-DPMNE did not support the change of the Constitution and the name agreement with Greece, which they consider extremely harmful.
“It is important that citizens have not made the decision to accept the agreement, but the government has trampled their will, and with blackmail, threats and bargaining got the necessary votes in parliament. We will do everything in our power to correct this injustice. The people gives the power and the people can take it away. We need elections at which Zaev will be defeated. If these people remain in power Macedonia continue to lose in politics, in economy, in society… This must stop, this must be reversed, and that will only happen if they are removed from office. VMRO-DPMNE demands urgent dismissal of the Parliament and early general elections, in accordance with the agreed election law. Based on past experience VMRO-DPMNE will win at these elections,” said Mickoski.
The State Election Commission says that the presidential election will cost the country about five million euros. A maximum of three million euros will be allocated for fees for election boards, while the rest are for transport and electoral material. About 300 thousand euros will be allocated for placement of the election boards.