North Macedonia: VMRO-DPMNE to fight an uphill battle in upcoming general election

North Macedonia: VMRO-DPMNE to fight an uphill battle in upcoming general election

In three days, perhaps the most unusual election campaign in the country will begin, ahead of the July 15 parliamentary elections. This campaign will be held without rallies and with reduced gatherings of citizens, with a presentation of the parties’ programs via video on social networks. Also, the elections will last three days and will be held in accordance with special protection protocols for Covid-19.

Under these conditions, 15 political entities with 87 lists, which originally planned to compete on April 12, will compete for the 120 seats in parliament.

This is the first parliamentary election for VMRO-DPMNE leader Hristijan Mickoski, but not the first election challenge for the party’s leadership, for which the first test was last year’s presidential election. The upcoming elections are, in fact, the first direct confrontation between Mickoski and SDSM leader Zoran Zaev over the position of Prime Minister.

For Zoran Zaev, this is the third parliamentary election since he became SDSM leader. Although Zaev is Mickoski’s main opponent, SDSM is not the only competitor to VMRO-DPMNE, as several other political entities from the twelve provinces have declared their participation in the election. Given that they are smaller parties, the question is whether they will secure seats, but it is very likely that they will “steal” some votes from the electorate that is more inclined towards VMRO-DPMNE.

In this regard, the independent electoral representation of part of the VMRO-DPMNE reform wing in this election is obvious, after the split in the party following the referendum in 2018, ie before the approval of the constitutional amendments. Petar Bogoyevski’s “Macedonian Idea”, who was ousted by VMRO-DPMNE’s deputy secretary general, secured participation in the elections through a party registered as the Social Democrats, ie through SDU, which was once formed by Lazar Elenovski.

On the other hand, the new Voice for Macedonia party, formed by former MP Solza Grceva, who was ousted by SDSM and was among the right-wing groups fighting for the boycott of the referendum, makes its first electoral appearance. From the camp that openly supported the boycott of the referendum on the Prespa Agreement comes also Jianko Basev’s United Macedonia, which has formed a coalition with Jiove Kekenovski’s Frodem. Basev and Kekenovski formed a coalition called “Never North – Always Macedonia”.

Ljupco Ristevski’s newly formed Integra party, which is said to be a conservative party, is also participating for the first time in this election.

Despite the stratification of VMRO-DPMNE during the political crisis with the wire taps, and then about the referendum on the name change, which is reflected in the candidacies in these elections, the situation in the left camp seems clearer.

The “Your Party”, which was created before the election, will also premiere in this election, but only in three constituencies, where its lists contain several well-known names from legal circles, such as lawyer Aleksandar Tortevski, university professor Mirjana Najcevska and retired professor Gjorge Marjanovic.

For the “Left”, it will be the second parliamentary election since the party’s “premiere” in 2016, when it almost won a seat. But after the last parliamentary election, the party underwent a lot of changes. Of the party’s leaders at the time, only Dimitar Apasiev, who challenged the constitutionality of the referendum for the name change, now remained on the ballot of the first constituency.

Two parties formed in 2018 will also run in this parliamentary election, the “Political Democratic Union” and the “Democrats”. The list also includes the ILO – Labor Party, which already has experience in the 2014 and 2016 parliamentary election.

Competition in the Albanian political bloc in this election has waned in a coalition – the Alliance for Albanians of Zijadin Sela and the Alternative Afrim Gashi, which had its first test election in 2016, as well as the former main opponents in this bloc, DUI and the DPA, which competes independently in the battle for parliamentary seats. Bilal Kasami’s BESA Movement, on the other hand, as it is known, signed a cooperation agreement with SDSM and became a member of the “We Can” coalition./ibna