The President of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Gjorge Ivanov, has until Monday to decide who should be given the mandate to form a government.
The Constitution provides that the President must give a mandate to one of the winning parties no later than 20 days after the elections.
On December 11, 2016, the country went to the polls, but the result was a virtual tie. The VMRO-DPMNE secured 38% of the popular vote, versus 37% for the opposition Social Democrats 37%. The different is 17,000 votes.
However, this 1% translated to 2 more seats. The Parliament has 123 seats, of which three are reserved for the Diaspora. However, because of low participation, Diaspora seats will remain vacant.
The incumbent VMRO won 51 seats in the election, while the opposition 49. The kingmakers will be the Albanian minority parties that secured 20 seats.
Both the former Prime Minister, Nicola Gruevski, and the leader of the opposition, Zoran Zaev, have claimed victory and want the mandate to form a government. Mathematically, both can, but in this political standoff, anyone granted initiative will have a political advantage.
What can happen?
Typically, the first party gets the first mandate to form a government.
But, the elections were not entirely unblemished. On December 11, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) found several irregularities with party funding – for VMRO-DPMNE – the electoral list, party registration, voter intimidation, misuse of administrative resources, and pressure on civil servants. Other than that “the election day was good” according to OSCE special coordinator Roberto Battelli.
The opposition calls for regime change. The Social Democrats claim they will inform the President they already have the parliamentary support necessary. And they will step forward to form a government.
The big question is ‘what will the Albanian parties that hold the key to power do,’ and at what price. Have the seats (10) are held by the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), which has ruled with VMRO for little under a decade. But, although the DUI is a potential kingmaker, its leadership is also aware that it has lost half its voters since 2014.
Call for regime change
Nicola Gruevski has served as Prime Minister for over a decade. He is burdened with an illegal wiretapping operation targeting over 20,000 people, including parliamentarians, journalists, judges, the police, and even religious leaders.
He was forced to resign at the beginning of 2016. In an interview with Republika, he is suggesting that Non-Governmental Organizations funded by George Soros are trying to topple VMRO from power.