The incumbent Social Democratic-led ‘We Can’ coalition has gained a slender lead as per the preliminary results of the parliamentary elections in North Macedonia that were held on July 15, Wednesday. With 98.3% of the votes counted, the Social Democrats led by incumbent Zoran Zaev had secured 46 seats and the right-wing Renewal Coalition led by Hristijan Mickosi had got 44 seats in the 120-seat parliament.
The left-wing party Levica achieved a breakthrough by winning two seats and securing 4.1% of the votes. The Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) with 15 seats, a party which predominantly represents ethnic Albanians and was a junior partner in Zaev’s government, is likely to play a key role in the formation of the government.
The elections were held in the six electoral districts in the country, each of which sends 20 MPs to the parliament. The voter turnout was just 51.34% in the polls. The ruling bloc and the major opposition force lost 8 and 7 seats respectively while the ethnic Albanian parties gained more seats.
The elections were called by PM Zoran Zaev after North Macedonia’s EU membership bid was put on hold in October 2019 due to opposition from France. The lead in the election will strengthen Zaev’s push towards integrating with the EU. Zaev will also seek to spin the victory as a validation of the Prespa Agreement which has been widely criticized in the country.
The Prespa Agreement was signed in June 2018 between North Macedonia (then known as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and Greece and was touted as one of the steps to ensure the former’s membership in the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). As part of the agreement, the country adopted the name North Macedonia. Leftist sections, especially Levica, opposed the agreement due to its role in facilitating the expansion of the imperialist NATO and the integration of the Balkan regions into the neoliberal EU project. They also opposed the change of the name. The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) also opposed the agreement.
The far-right in North Macedonia had protested the deal and fanned up hyper-nationalist sentiments over what they claimed was the surrender of the name Macedonia.
The putting on hold of the membership to the EU was a huge blow to the pro-western bloc in the country. However, the process has continued. In March, the country joined NATO. The European Union has also given the go-ahead for resuming membership talks.
Levica (The Left) is a socialist, anti-imperialist party founded in November 2015. Candidates from the party, including its president, Dr. Dimitar Apasiev, contested from all the 6 districts with the slogan ‘The state for the people – Left in parliament!.
Following their victory, Levica stated that “Despite the fraud and the unfavorable electoral model, The Left is a parliamentary party this evening!”