SKOPJE -- The president of North Macedonia, Stevo Pendarovski, has handed Social Democratic Union (SDSM) leader Dimitar Kovachevski a mandate to form a new government.
Kovachevski, the new leader of the ruling SDSM, received the mandate after the SDSM announced that it had secured a majority in parliament. He is expected to be the party's nominee to become the next prime minister.
"From today, I am starting to form a new team with people who must respond to the serious challenges that await us from the beginning of the new year," Kovachevski said on December 29. "The new government will have a clear goal -- to provide security, a better life, and a bright future for our citizens."
He said his personal commitment would be to restore trust in the country's politics and institutions.
Kovachevski, 47, a former deputy finance minister, will have 20 days to submit the composition of the new government to parliament for ratification.
The SDSM has allied with a small ethnic Albanian party to create a new coalition with 64 seats in the 120-member parliament.
Kovachevski succeeded Zoran Zaev as the president of the SDSM after Zaev resigned as party leader on November 27. He announced the move after a poor showing by the SDSM in local elections in October. Last month, he stepped down as head of the party.
During an address to parliament on December 22, Pendarovski praised Zaev's resignation as a democratically minded act that he performed even though his party was in power.
Zaev served as prime minister from May 2017 to January 2020 and again since August 2020. He oversaw the resolution of his country's long-standing dispute with Greece over the name "Macedonia," paving the way to advance its European Union accession bid.
However, Bulgaria objects to that because of disputes over history and linguistics. Kovachevski has promised to invite Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov for talks in a bid to ease tensions over the name.
Zaev also secured North Macedonia's membership in NATO in March 2020.
The conservative opposition on December 29 renewed its calls for early national legislative elections. North Macedonia is currently expected to hold elections in 2024.