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North Macedonia's Government To Face No-Confidence Vote

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev speaks at a press conference after local elections on October 31.
Prime Minister Zoran Zaev speaks at a press conference after local elections on October 31.

North Macedonian lawmakers will vote on November 11 on a motion of no confidence in the Social Democrat-led government.

Speaker Talat Xhaferi scheduled the vote after opposition leader Hristijan Mickoski of the right-wing Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) put forward the motion following Prime Minister Zoran Zaev's failure to make good of his promise last week to resign after his Social Democratic Union (SDSM) suffered a trouncing defeat in local elections.

The main battleground in the elections on October 31 was Skopje, where SDSM incumbent Mayor Petre Shilegov lost to Danela Arsovska of the VMRO-DPMNE.

Mickoski, who has called for early elections following SDSM's defeat in the local polls, argued that the opposition now had a slim majority in parliament, with 61 out of 120 lawmakers, that would be enough to overthrow the government.

The decisive factor will be a promised change of sides by the small BESA movement, a center-right ethnic Albanian party that is currently a coalition partner in Zaev's cabinet.

If the no-confidence motion passes on November 11, President Stevo Pendarovski will have to appoint another politician who can command a majority in parliament to form a new government.

Observers believe it is possible that neither Mickoski nor the SDSM will succeed. This would then result in new elections.

Zaev was elected prime minister in 2017 after 10 years of right-wing rule led by Nikola Gruevski, whose government was shaken by a wiretapping scandal revealed by Zaev.

In 2018, Zaev struck a deal with Athens to add the geographical qualifier "north" to the country's official name in order to distinguish it from the Greek province of Macedonia.

That was a precondition to paving the way for NATO and European Union membership, but the name change did little to settle grievances of other countries, including Bulgaria, which has sought to block the country's path to joining the EU.

With reporting by dpa

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