Macedonia Votes amidst EU, NATO Hopes

World | June 5, 2011, Sunday // 09:56|  views

The 20-day election campaign in Macedniona had been heated and filled with mutual blame between the opposition and the ruling party. Photo by BGNES

Macedonians are going to the polls Sunday to vote in snap elections with hopes to accelerate their joining of the European Union and NATO.

1.8 million voters will elect 123 Members of the Parliament. For the first time 7 000 Macedonians living abroad will cast their ballot for 3 MPs out of the 123.

The vote, however, is not expected to end the long-running feud between the cabinet and the opposition.

According to latest surveys, the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has the lead against the left-wing SDSM of Branko Crvenkovski, but the margin is tight and it would not be enough for Gruevski to form a stable government.

According to experts, the winner will have to seek a coalition partner, most likely the Albanian minority party.

Gruevski was the clean-cut winner at the previous elections in June, 2008, and together with the Albanian party – Democratic Union for Integration, was expected to have a comfortable two-third majority. The PM, however, had to call early elections after the Social-Democrats, SDSM, walked out of the Parliament in sign of protest against "the despotic and anti-democratic rule," and the authorities freezing the assets of the opposition private TV A1 following a tax probe.

The Albanian party has been absent from the Parliament since August, 2009.

A total of 32 MPs boycotted the work of Parliament, leading to a deadlock without the needed majority.

The 20-day election campaign had been heated and filled with mutual blame.

The opposition is accusing the cabinet of corruption, pressure on the media and the justice system, failure to deal with the economic crisis, staggering poverty, and a delay in joining the EU.

The government is further criticized for putting its bid on the nationalist card and spending huge amounts of money on bling projects such as renovations in Skopje to reflect the "antique glory of Macedonia," and a giant monument of Alexander The Great, things expected to worsen even more relations with neighboring Greece.

Athens already blocked Macedonia's candidature for EU and NATO over the dispute about the official name of the country.

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Tags: elections, Democratic Union for Integration, minority, Albanian, SDSM, VMRO-DPMNE, Branko Crvenkovski, Nikola Gruevski, NATO, EU, voters, macedonia, snap


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