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North Macedonia coalition blocks no confidence vote in parliament

North Macedonia coalition blocks no confidence vote in parliament

The parliament of North Macedonia was due to meet on Thursday to vote on a motion of no confidence in the government.
The ruling coalition in North Macedonia has blocked a parliament vote on a motion of no confidence in the government.

Just 60 MPs attended the vote on Thursday, one short of the quorum needed to hold the vote.

The motion was tabled by the opposition in the wake of the left-wing government’s defeat in the municipal elections.

The main opposition party, the right-wing VMRO-DPMNE, had presented signatures of 61 MPs supporting its initiative, out of the 120 MPs in the parliament.

But an MP from the Besa small party representing the Albanian community failed to show up in parliament, stating on Facebook that he had changed his mind.

The opposition now has until midnight to try to reach the quorum, or the session will be postponed.

The political turmoil comes as the small country of two million people faces a resurgent COVID-19 epidemic and an energy crisis.

After his SDSM party lost the municipal elections in October, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev announced his resignation but suggested that the same majority would form a new cabinet.

The current majority includes the SDSM and the main Albanian community party (DUI).

But VMRO-DPMNE president Hristijan Mickoski says he has built a new majority, with the support of several other small Albanian groups, which make up a quarter of the population.

Zoran Zaev, whose popularity was already falling due to little progress in the country's march towards the European Union, never formally submitted his resignation to parliament and even seems to have changed his mind.

His party's executive committee decided on Tuesday that his resignation would be "postponed" indefinitely, "to ensure the stability and European perspective" of the country.

"I sincerely hope that the democratic parliamentary majority will be stabilised," Zaev said.

If his government does not survive the no-confidence motion, the opposition will have the opportunity to form a new government. If this then fails, early elections must be held.

"I will try to form a new government, seriously credible and effective in managing crises and fighting crime and corruption," said Mickoski.

Zaev, who has led the country since 2017, struck a difficult deal with Athens in 2018 to change his country's name to North Macedonia to unblock rapprochement with the European bloc.

Greece, which has a province with the same name, considered that its neighbour's use of the name was a usurpation of its heritage.

The agreement allowed North Macedonia to join Nato in March 2020, but EU accession negotiations never started, despite a formal go-ahead.
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